Can I remove this metal box from my wall?

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  #1  
Old 10-23-06, 07:12 AM
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Can I remove this metal box from my wall?

Hi all!

I have a really old house and there's a metal box sticking out of one of my walls that I want to rip out so I can patch it up and just paint the room. My guess is that this is some kind of ancient electrical box or has something to do with a doorbell. This wall happens to be upstairs in a bedroom right in a dormer, so there's no crawlspace or attic on the other side of it (if my estimates are correct).

I pried the box open after cutting through about 3 layers of paint and saw that there are 2 wire "terminals" on the top and bottom, but they don't seem to be connected in any way, and one of the terminals on the top looks like the wire was pulled out (nothing's in it). The insulation goes right to the end of the wire (if that's even what it is) so I haven't tested it with my multimeter yet.

I took pictures and posted them on my spaces page at http://padearmore.spaces.live.com/photos

Anybody have any ideas what this is and if it's safe to remove, and how would you safely remove it?

Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 10-23-06, 07:25 AM
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This looks like an old abandoned electrical box. You need to find out if the wires are live. If they are then you need to find the other end and disconnect them at that location BEFORE you think about removing this box. Even if the wires aren't live, you need to find the other end to make sure they are truly abandoned, and not just loose in some box.
 
  #3  
Old 10-23-06, 04:06 PM
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Looks like it may be knob and tube wiring. If it is and the house wiring has been upgraded from K&T that would give more weight to it being abandoned. Of course a meter test is first priority.
 
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Old 10-23-06, 04:49 PM
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I believe Ray hit it on the head.... looks like old K&T to me also. I've also got an old (80yrs) home and it was renovated years ago to replace all the old knob and tube..... SO I THOUGHT,,,,,,,, Since purchasing the home, I've found about 5 different circuits that were not upgraded - and have work ahead of me to replace those circuits. What I'm saying is..... check for voltage before ripping it out.....
 
  #5  
Old 10-23-06, 04:54 PM
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that looks like an old knob and tube fuse box. I have seen these before. The service used to enter the house on the second floor and there were two 30 amp fuses on that number 12 wire feeding the whole hose. Yes it was just 120 volt.

If I am right you house was build circa WWII. Or just before the war.

I still would be concerned that the wires may not be disconnected at the other end.

Tracking this down will not be easy. good luck.
 
  #6  
Old 10-23-06, 07:51 PM
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If the wires are hot, and you don't mind a smaller blank on the wall, you could always cut an oversized hole around the existing box and pull the wires out from below.

Then install a new regular sized box (new or old work depending on where you want it) and terminate the wires there.

At least the blank will be smaller. Then again, if your walls are plaster it's another story.

FWIW my home is 55 years old and I have/had all K&T. .
 
  #7  
Old 10-24-06, 08:16 AM
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Hey, thanks for identifying this! That makes sense, my house is real old. The previous owner told me that all of the wiring had been modernized, and indeed, every outlet, light fixture, etc. that I've worked on has been up-to-date. That leads me to two follow-up questions...

First, how do I test this? There's no white wires that I can see--there's just three wires coming in and all of them have black insulation. And maybe more importantly... You know this wall might be plaster. If so, I don't know how to patch it up. How do I tell for sure if it's plaster if it's got a few layers of paint plus wallpaper on it?

Thanks!
 
  #8  
Old 10-24-06, 08:32 AM
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Old wiring of this sort often is nothing but "black" (or appears so as it tends to get filthy black with age) - one hot, one neutral - no ground wire. A circuit tester should tell you if those are "hot circuits".

As far as repairs - yes, it's more than likely plaster - and, when fixing those minor holes, I use a durabond putty material that goes on like drywall mud, but dries a lot harder.
 
  #9  
Old 10-24-06, 05:29 PM
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Just on the outside possibility that there is a "hot" wire but no neutral I would test each against a known good neutral. I'd plug a polarized (or grounded) extension cord in to a reseptacale and test between the neutral, wide slot, to each wire.
 
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