Old wiring, looking for security...


Old 01-23-07, 10:03 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2
Old wiring, looking for security...

Can I do this myself, or should I call in a Pro?

Here's the bit ::: House built in 1920, old copper, and where I'm looking to replace a dining room ceiling light, the wiring is covered with a VERY brittle black (rubber?) material, which is in turn covered by a crumbling brown braided material. Now the copper is covered, and so far the insulation has just cracked and crumbled off of the ends where I twisted off the old wires from the old lamp.

The new fixture is a pendant, hangs around 24" down from the ceiling, and has four wire sets. Takes 4 100W bulbs-- we'll be using fluorescents.

Can I safely wire all 4 blacks to the old wire with the fine red cord knitted into the insulation, and all of the new whites into the old wire that's obviously neutral?

Or would the degraded insulation warrant making a phonecall and paying someone to check it over?

Any help appreciated!
Sponsored Links
Old 01-23-07, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
If your wiring is that old and that brittle, then you need to have the wiring in the entire house checked.
Old 01-23-07, 06:30 PM
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: North of Boston, MA.
Posts: 2,113
When it falls apart, time to fix it.

Undesturbed, thats OK, once you touch it, a problem waiting to happen.
Old 01-23-07, 06:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 749
Definately have your wiring checked out. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, hire an electrician. But it may not be as bad as you think..

If the existing fixture was flush mounted, then it's understandable why old knob and tube, which is what you have, has the insulation cracking. This type of insulation is not 90C rated, unlike Romex. So the rest of the wiring may be ok, definately have it looked at, but this run would need to be repaired/replaced.

Also check other flush mount fixtures, and change them out to something else (semi-flush, pendant, etc). There are safety issues with knob and tube and flush mounted lighting.

My home is/was partially knob and tube. I had the same experience you did on every flush mounted light. After an inspection of the other wiring, I found no cracking or other problems; but the heat generated by the flush mount light basically destroyed the insulation. I replaced the damaged runs of knob and tube by running new Romex circuits.

Good luck.
Old 01-23-07, 08:45 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2
Thanks to all!

I will definitely have all the ceiling lights run through an inspection.

Appreciate the good help.

Best regards,
Old 01-23-07, 08:47 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 749
you would want to check the rest of the wiring, at least all that is accessible. Even if the insulation is intact on the ceiling fixtures, still change them out to semi flush if they are flush mounted.

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes