K&T replacement...finally

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  #1  
Old 02-02-06, 07:29 PM
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K&T replacement...finally

So I'm ready to tackle the project of a new 200A panel and replacement of the knob and tube wiring in my attic.

The new panel will be installed by an electrician. After that, I plan on doing the rest.

My plan is once the new panel is in, remove all the knob and tube, 1 circuit at a time. Replace with Romex, and then land the Romex in a J-box right before the lines go down into the wall. Connect the existing K&T and the Romex. I'm not going to bother with the wiring in the wall, because 1) it's ridiculous to rip apart the wall, and 2) I'm doing this primarily to be able to insulate the attic with fiberglass. The blown in stuff is, well, 50 years old and isn't doing much.

I will of course speak with the electrician, but a couple questions come to mind.

What do I do with the ground wire in the J-box where the K&T is connected?

When the panel is changed out, is all the power to the house shut down for the duration of the install? I'm assuming that it is, but I'm not sure.

Also, how would you recommend replacing the existing K&T (in what sequence). I'm assuming all the power will be shut down, so I'll need a generator at least at the beginning until I can get a circuit that powers the attic lights.

Thanks in advance.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-02-06, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by fuente
What do I do with the ground wire in the J-box where the K&T is connected?
Fold it neatly and leave it there for when you finish the job.

If you really have knob and groove or knob and tube going down the walls, I believe you have a problem if you want to insulate without removing it.


When the panel is changed out, is all the power to the house shut down for the duration of the install?
Yes. Your electrician (or the poco) will pull the meter to cut power. Local practice might require inspector approval before he can put the meter back in.
Otherwise, the poco will put the meter back in after the inspector approves.



I'll need a generator at least at the beginning until I can get a circuit that powers the attic lights.
A 100' extension cord is cheaper and safer. Plug it in downstairs.
 
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Old 02-02-06, 11:17 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply. So the ground wire just gets wire-nutted and left in the J-box?

Also, there will be knob and tube in the walls, but I'm not insulating the walls, just the attic. In the area where the knob and tube enter the top plate, I will not be putting insulation in that area, though.
 
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Old 02-03-06, 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by fuente
When the panel is changed out, is all the power to the house shut down for the duration of the install? I'm assuming that it is, but I'm not sure.
Its up to the inspector.

If the new panel is in a different location some times the electrician will jumper wires from the old panel to the new one
that will give you power until the inspector comes out and then the poco.

Also, how would you recommend replacing the existing K&T (in what sequence).
Make a drawing.

------------------------------------
If you have head room in the attic.
They make 5' long flexible drill bits, you may be able to drill new holes to feed wire down the walls.
 
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Old 02-03-06, 07:57 AM
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thanks. I plan on getting one of the wiring books recommended here to ensure I do things right.
 
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Old 02-03-06, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fuente
So the ground wire just gets wire-nutted and left in the J-box?
That's interesting... I suppose you can if you are afraid of poking yourself with it.
If you are using a green wirenut with a hole in the top, it won't work too well.
 
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Old 02-03-06, 02:09 PM
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what I'm saying is that I have no plans to continue the replacement in the walls. So I guess because the ground wire is not connected to anything, doesn't matter whether it's wire nutted or not...?
 
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Old 02-03-06, 04:11 PM
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If it is folded neatly into the box, I don't see how it matters unless you will have a hard time spotting the free end later.
 
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Old 02-03-06, 05:13 PM
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thanks. That's what I thought. Also, when I run the wire parallel to the joists, obviously I'll screw the J-boxes to the sides of the joists. When I need to go perpendicular, I'll need to drill a hole in the joists I assume, and leave enough slack to make a 'u' so the insullation will lay flush..?
 
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Old 02-03-06, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by fuente
When I need to go perpendicular, I'll need to drill a hole in the joists I assume
That is one way. Another way is a 2x4" stringer preferably where protected from foot traffic by the roof trusses.

Might you ever put a floor in this attic?
If the junction boxes are on top, they are unlikely to be inadvertantly concealed later.
Regardless, go where the roof is much too low to walk under and the boxes won't be a tripping hazard.




and leave enough slack to make a 'u' so the insulation will lie flush..?
No, you should go near the tops of the joists so that batts can go completely underneath the wire. If later you put a floor in the attic and the cables are less than 2" from the top, you'll need a steel protection plate at each joist.
 
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Old 02-03-06, 06:32 PM
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Ground that J box

If that Jbox is metallic you will have to terminate the Equipment Grounding (Bonding) Conductor to the box by using a listed clip or a machine screw that serves no other purpose. I would suggest that you use the four inch square by 1&1/2 inch deep plastic junction boxes. The conductors between the last knob or tube and the box must be in loom. For practical application you will just use insulating plastic tubing. It must extend from the last point of support fort the wire to the interior of the box. If you do end up using metallic boxes you will need to cut a slot in the metal between the two knock outs (KOs) that you use for the insulating tubing to enter the box. That slot makes the two KOs into a single opening in the metal wall of the box so as to prevent inductive heating of the box. The heating that would result without that precaution can result in the wood to which the box is attached being dried out and rendered far more susceptible to ignition. Whether the resulting heating would lead directly to ignition is a subject of some debate.
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Old 02-03-06, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by bolide
That is one way. Another way is a 2x4" stringer preferably where protected from foot traffic by the roof trusses.

Might you ever put a floor in this attic?
If the junction boxes are on top, they are unlikely to be inadvertantly concealed later.
Regardless, go where the roof is much too low to walk under and the boxes won't be a tripping hazard.







No, you should go near the tops of the joists so that batts can go completely underneath the wire. If later you put a floor in the attic and the cables are less than 2" from the top, you'll need a steel protection plate at each joist.
Got it. I plan to screw the boxes to the sides of the joints, and run the wire over the insulation. The attic cannot and will not ever have a floor, but the way I see it, this method will allow the boxes to be out of the way.

BTW, is there a practical/safety reason why I cannot put the romex under the insulation, opposed to over it?
 
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Old 02-03-06, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by hornetd
If that Jbox is metallic you will have to terminate the Equipment Grounding (Bonding) Conductor to the box by using a listed clip or a machine screw that serves no other purpose. I would suggest that you use the four inch square by 1&1/2 inch deep plastic junction boxes. The conductors between the last knob or tube and the box must be in loom. For practical application you will just use insulating plastic tubing. It must extend from the last point of support fort the wire to the interior of the box. If you do end up using metallic boxes you will need to cut a slot in the metal between the two knock outs (KOs) that you use for the insulating tubing to enter the box. That slot makes the two KOs into a single opening in the metal wall of the box so as to prevent inductive heating of the box. The heating that would result without that precaution can result in the wood to which the box is attached being dried out and rendered far more susceptible to ignition. Whether the resulting heating would lead directly to ignition is a subject of some debate.
--
Tom Horne
Not sure I understand.

The last 'point of support' would be down in the wall somewhere, which is not practical. Or, up in the attic upstream of the hole in the top plate. So what you are saying is that I need to insulate the K&T conductors at the point of entry in the J-box? Why not use a regular connector, and put the wires in the insulated tubing that way?

And you're saying I need to attach the ground wire from the Romex to the J-box? I'm not sure what I'd be 'grounding', but maybe it's a safety in case the hot wire touches the box?

Also, I see the plastic j-boxes..do they make plastic covers as well, or do you use the metallic?

Forgive my ignorance..it's a great learning process though.
 

Last edited by fuente; 02-03-06 at 09:47 PM.
  #14  
Old 02-03-06, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by fuente
I plan to screw the boxes to the sides of the joints, and run the wire over the insulation.
You do realize that the wire must be stapled to the joist before it goes into the box. Plan for the box to be 8" or so from the hole.

is there a practical/safety reason why I cannot put the romex under the insulation, opposed to over it?
Yes, it can't be sagging as much as you suggested, nor can it be supporting the insulation.
Besides, you'll use less cable with a straight (but not taut) run.


You want your insulation to lie flat against the ceiling (or old insulation) for maximum effectiveness.
 
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Old 02-04-06, 07:43 AM
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yep, I know it has to be stapled to the joists as well.

Thanks for the info on the insulation.

Still am a little confused about the heat load generated by the K&T, and the insulating sleeve, though.
 
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Old 02-04-06, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by fuente
Still am a little confused about the heat load generated by the K&T
Are you using steel boxes?

See the Mike Holt article on neutral-ground connections for discussion of magnetic heating.

If using metal anything-bigger-than-a-screw, it must be grounded.
So yes, you ground all metal boxes.
 
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Old 02-04-06, 08:28 AM
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by 'grounding', do you mean attaching the romex ground to the box at the point where I make the K&T connection? If so no big deal. Or does EVERY J-Box need to be grounded..?

I guess my question is this, to put it in a simpler way: How would you do about doing what I am planning to do...? I want to connect existing Romex to the old K&T wiring, right before it enters the top plate.

Thanks for all the great help...!
 
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Old 02-04-06, 06:42 PM
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Tubes are a point of support

fuente Wrote:
by 'grounding', do you mean attaching the romex ground to the box at the point where I make the K&T connection? If so no big deal. Or does EVERY J-Box need to be grounded..?

I guess my question is this, to put it in a simpler way: How would you do about doing what I am planning to do...? I want to connect existing Romex to the old K&T wiring, right before it enters the top plate.

Thanks for all the great help...!
Is the wire that goes into the top plate going through a tube? IF the answer is yes than that tube would be the last point of support. Better practice is to salvage two insulating knobs from each run and install them in the attic joist or stud channel just above the plate. Loop the wire back on itself through the other side of the insulating knob and install insulating plastic tubing over it from there to the KOs of the J-box. Alternatively you would use two sets of insulaters and tap in the conductors to the box from the line between the two insulators by using very small split bolt conectors which you then insulate with three layers of insulating tape or a patent insulating cover.
 
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Old 02-04-06, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by fuente
Does EVERY J-Box need to be grounded?
Yes (unless it is non-conductive)! Even more than that, each EGC passing through the box must be joined.
 
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Old 02-04-06, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by hornetd
fuente Wrote:

Is the wire that goes into the top plate going through a tube? IF the answer is yes than that tube would be the last point of support. Better practice is to salvage two insulating knobs from each run and install them in the attic joist or stud channel just above the plate. Loop the wire back on itself through the other side of the insulating knob and install insulating plastic tubing over it from there to the KOs of the J-box. Alternatively you would use two sets of insulaters and tap in the conductors to the box from the line between the two insulators by using very small split bolt conectors which you then insulate with three layers of insulating tape or a patent insulating cover.
Ok, got it. I haven't looked at the supports where the K&T goes into the top plate, but I think I do remember seeing the wire being insulated at that point. And I think there would have to be some support there. Shouldn't be too difficult insulate the wire from there, thru the J-box and up to the romex. My goal of getting as close to the top plate with the Romex was due to not being able to insulate over the K&T. But I guess this is the solution to get as close as possible Thanks !

Only question would be where to get the insulating tubing? Is this a common item at HD or Lowes? Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-04-06, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bolide
Yes (unless it is non-conductive)! Even more than that, each EGC passing through the box must be joined.
Yep, just did some research and see that you must make a pigtail and attach it to the grounding screw. So I guess the box where the romex/K&T connection is, there will be no pigtail, and I just fasten the ground to the box...?

I just ordered the Black and Decker wiring book that is recommended by some here.

It's one thing to get it done, but I'd like to continue learning how to do it absolutely right.

Thanks again !!
 

Last edited by fuente; 02-04-06 at 08:23 PM.
  #22  
Old 02-05-06, 04:33 AM
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where the romex/K&T connection is, there will be no pigtail, and I just fasten the ground to the box...?
Correct.


> I just ordered the Black and Decker wiring book

I doubt it covers splicing to K&T.


> It's one thing to get it done, but I'd like to continue learning how
> to do it absolutely right.

Same here.
Or as the saying goes, if you are going to break any rules, first you should understand why the rules were made so you know how to break them properly.

In your situation, I would see about replacing the last few feet of K&T with new cable.
If K&T goes inside a wall, it surely cannot be that hard to fish in new cable, perhaps to a new old-work box.
 
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Old 02-05-06, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by bolide
Correct.


> I just ordered the Black and Decker wiring book

I doubt it covers splicing to K&T.


> It's one thing to get it done, but I'd like to continue learning how
> to do it absolutely right.

Same here.
Or as the saying goes, if you are going to break any rules, first you should understand why the rules were made so you know how to break them properly.

In your situation, I would see about replacing the last few feet of K&T with new cable.
If K&T goes inside a wall, it surely cannot be that hard to fish in new cable, perhaps to a new old-work box.
Of course all the overhead lights can be replaced, and anything else I can get to. Kitchen will be a no go, as the boxes are tiled over already. And I'm debating what to do when I hit fire blocking; give up or tear into the wall. The wife is already tired of me tearing the house apart...

Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-05-06, 04:08 PM
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the other issue is what is the inspector going to want to see, if the only thing I pull the permit for is the new panel. I guess I"ll have to find that out before getting started with any of this.
 
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Old 02-05-06, 09:08 PM
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fuente,

Since I may be embarking on a similar project, I hope you don't mind if I barge into this conversation.

If I'm understanding things correctly, you're going to have the K&T in the walls joining new romex in the attic in a junction box? And all you have to do is join the hots and the neutrals in that j-box and screw the ground from the romex to the j-box?

Are you doing the same thing for the switches which control the ceiling lights?

Thanks for any help on this- and good luck on your project.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by findtheriver
fuente,

Since I may be embarking on a similar project, I hope you don't mind if I barge into this conversation.

If I'm understanding things correctly, you're going to have the K&T in the walls joining new romex in the attic in a junction box? And all you have to do is join the hots and the neutrals in that j-box and screw the ground from the romex to the j-box?

Are you doing the same thing for the switches which control the ceiling lights?

Thanks for any help on this- and good luck on your project.
I believe that is the only way to do it. As for the switches, I'll get to what I can, but most likely I'll have to make the romex/K&T connection; I don't really feel like ripping apart the walls. I just got finished with a remodel of three other rooms.

But I'm not sure what an inspector is going to look at if only the panel is replaced. Splicing K&T is a code violation, so I'm in a holding pattern until I find out about the inspector's scope.

EDIT: Just spoke to the inspector. They only look at the panel and the connections to the existing circuits.

good luck to you as well.
 

Last edited by fuente; 02-06-06 at 11:01 AM.
  #27  
Old 02-06-06, 12:10 PM
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I appreciate your comments. I'm also reluctant to tear up walls and ceilings to run new romex from the switches to light fixtures. When you say that splicing K&T is not code, do you mean the romex-K&T connection in the j-box? Arggh.

Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 12:43 PM
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I'm pretty sure that when you start tearing into the wiring, you must complete the entire run as per the current code.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 06:15 PM
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Thanks again, fuente.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by fuente
The last 'point of support' would be down in the wall somewhere, which is not practical.
You push the covering hose over it until stops when it hits an insulator.


Or, up in the attic upstream of the hole in the top plate.
Whatever you leave as K&T you cannot add attic insulation around.


So what you are saying is that I need to insulate the K&T conductors at the point of entry in the J-box?
Yes.



And you're saying I need to attach the ground wire from the Romex to the J-box? I'm not sure what I'd be 'grounding', but maybe it's a safety in case the hot wire touches the box?
Yes!!


do they make plastic covers as well?
Yes.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 06:34 PM
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Thanks. There is a tube where the wire enters the top plate, so I'll get the romex as close to that as possible, insulate the wires, them land them in a plastic J-box. Is the cover just a standard blue cover? Never seen those.

Also, I understand the ground wire is meant to trip the breaker rather than energize the box; for a plastic box, is there a hole for a grounding screw? And where do I find this insulating covering?

Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 07:55 PM
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K&T wiring sleeves

There is a tube where the wire enters the top plate
I think that is not your last support. Has to be a knob.



so I'll get the romex as close to that as possible
Close doesn't matter; alignment does. You need to be pretty much straight in line.



Is the cover just a standard blue cover?
What are you using as a junction box?
If a 4" box, you need a 4" blue cover plate.




I understand the ground wire is meant to trip the breaker rather than energize the box
Correct. Or at least to keep the box at low potential until the breaker trips.




for a plastic box, is there a hole for a grounding screw?
Do you have green plastic screws?


No, you do not ground a plastic box, plastic pipe, or anything else that is plastic.


And where do I find this insulating covering?
Or to rephrase this, what coverings are suitable to use as sleeves for K&T wiring?

I don't know. It is extremely rare that I leave any K&T behind when I'm done.
In rare instances of wiring for first floor ceiling lights that was impractical to gain access to within the owner's budget, I used 3/8" O.D. clear vinyl tubing or usually material that I salvaged from wiring that I removed.

You could test 1/4" tubing, that might work also. But you do not want to damage the existing insulation which might have become brittle.
 
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Old 02-06-06, 08:14 PM
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great. Thanks for the answers. So for the plastic boxes that I will be using, just connect all the grounds together, and nothing goes to ground the box. Sounds a lot easier than the metal

I wanted to get the box as close to the k&T as possible, in order to insulate as much as possible. But a few inches here and there are not going to make one bit of difference anyway.

Thanks for the tip on the insulating tubing. I guess I'll have to see what is up there. It will only probably be a few spots where I will need this. Much of the house was an addition and the receptacles were wired with romex.

Also, looking at the photos of the boxes, it looks like they nail in with the box paralell to the topside of the ceiling, not flat against the joists. I'm sure they make boxes without tabs with nail holes in them though.

I guess my local HD is either out of stock or does not carry the plastic boxes/covers. I"ll try another store. BTW I'm in California.

Thanks again !!
 
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Old 02-06-06, 09:13 PM
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Sounds a lot easier than the metal
Not at all. Putting in a ground screw doesn't take long.
The screw will keep the box from lying flat depending on how the box is fastened. So it could require a little extra drilling.

But two short drywall screws holds the box, no hammering.
It isn't possible to overtighten or crack the box.
When you step on one or kick it, it doesn't break.
Anyway...



> the receptacles were wired with romex.
This is typical. I think in many cases lights were wired first. Receptacles were added later.

> I'm sure they make boxes without tabs with nail holes in them though.
Metal boxes work great.
 
  #35  
Old 02-06-06, 09:36 PM
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Again- my apologies for butting in here. Just trying to understand the concept.

From the NEC:

300.16 Raceway or Cable to Open or Concealed Wiring.
(A) Box or Fitting. A box or terminal fitting having a separately bushed hole for each conductor shall be used wherever a change is made from conduit, electrical metallic tubing, electrical nonmetallic tubing, nonmetallic-sheathed cable, Type AC cable, Type MC cable, or mineral-insulated, metal-sheathed cable and surface raceway wiring to open wiring or to concealed knob-and-tube wiring. A fitting used for this purpose shall contain no taps or splices and shall not be used at luminaire (fixture) outlets.

Does this mean a j-box CAN be used to join K&T with new romex? If so, does connecting them with wire nuts violate the "no taps or splices" rule?

In other words, is it permissible to replace, say, one stretch of K&T between two receptacles with romex? Also, if a room only has 1 receptacle and you wish to add another, can you extend from the existing K&T receptacle and add another receptacle with romex?

Thanks very much.
 
  #36  
Old 02-06-06, 09:52 PM
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just my opinion

Does this mean a j-box CAN be used to join K&T with new romex?
I believe so, though it might actually mean with new K&T.

> does connecting them with wire nuts violate the "no taps or splices" rule?
I think that means other than for the changeover.
Iow, if you want a tap, you need another box and there can't be any K&T or open wiring in that one.



> is it permissible to replace, say, one stretch of K&T between two receptacles with romex?

Hmmm.
No. You have to upgrade everything.



> if a room only has 1 receptacle and you wish to add another, can you extend from the existing K&T receptacle and add another receptacle with romex?

Not a chance.
 
  #37  
Old 02-06-06, 11:48 PM
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I appreciate your comments, bolide. There are so many houses/buildings with K&T in my area and I've seen every kind of connection and splice imaginable. Everyone I talk to has a different idea of what's allowed and not allowed and I've always wondered if there was some accepted way to deal with K&T besides total replacement, which isn't always practical for a variety of reasons.

Even going to the building dept. yields varying answers. And I suppose that each AHJ has its own way of dealing with K&T too. The upshot: Does anyone in North America know exactly what you can and can't do with K&T? fuente's situation seems so common it sure would be nice if definitive information was available.

I'm still not sure why replacing K&T in the attic with new romex and connecting it to the existing K&T in the wall is different from replacing K&T between 2 receptacles. This whole thing is such an intriguing mystery.

Thank you for your help.
 
  #38  
Old 02-07-06, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by findtheriver
I've always wondered if there was some accepted way to deal with K&T besides total replacement, which isn't always practical for a variety of reasons.
Not always.



Does anyone in North America know exactly what you can and can't do with K&T?
The NEC subcommittee that handles this.



I'm still not sure why replacing K&T in the attic with new romex and connecting it to the existing K&T in the wall is different from replacing K&T between 2 receptacles.
The latter is a tap in the same box.
 
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Old 02-07-06, 01:02 AM
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I've always wondered if there was some accepted way to deal with K&T besides total replacement, which isn't always practical for a variety of reasons.

Not always.

Understood.


Does anyone in North America know exactly what you can and can't do with K&T?

The NEC subcommittee that handles this.

Good point.


I'm still not sure why replacing K&T in the attic with new romex and connecting it to the existing K&T in the wall is different from replacing K&T between 2 receptacles.

The latter is a tap in the same box.

That makes sense. Does this mean that you could, say, cut the K&T entering a bedroom before the receptacle, connect it to romex in a j-box, then install new receptacles down the line?

I hope I'm not being tedious here. Thank you for the information. This is very interesting.
 
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Old 02-07-06, 01:31 AM
bolide's Avatar
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Could you cut the K&T entering a bedroom before the receptacle, connect it to romex in a j-box, then install new receptacles down the line?
No. To what are you going to connect the equipment ground wire?
A two-wire system cannot be extended.
 
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