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Fixing multiple attic electrical issues before blowing in insulation

Fixing multiple attic electrical issues before blowing in insulation

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  #1  
Old 11-18-11, 04:32 PM
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Fixing multiple attic electrical issues before blowing in insulation

We decided to blow in cellulose insulation, because there was only 3" of insulation in the attic. While preparing for the job, ran across several electrical spots that scared the heck out of me. Decided to remove existing insulation, to make sure I found everything that was wrong. Glad I did. Need to get this fixed ASAP so I can get the insulation in before there's snow on the ground!

Took a few classes in electrical and robotics in high school, but no real practical experience. Able to follow directions extremely well, and want to get this right.

Don't know what's actually a problem and what can be left alone, and want to make sure the fix is properly done.

I realize there's quite a few questions in here. I appreciate your help very much!!! I'm so worried I'm not going to get all this done before snow's on the ground.

Click any picture to see a much larger version of it
(Your browser may fit it all on the screen page, but when it comes up, you can click it a second time to enlarge it to full size.)



Ceiling light and bathroom fan enclosures

Question 1 - As marked in picture, can see exposed copper wire underneath one of the ceiling light boxes. How should I seal underneath before insulating? I have a bunch of GreatStuff Fireblock already, but wondering if I need to use high temperature rated caulking.

Question 2 - Should I build an enclosure around boxes like this, so there's quite a few inches of air, preventing cellulose insulation from touching these boxes?

Question 3 - Most of the other boxes look decent, except two look like the wire is a tiny bit frayed as it goes into the box. Do I do anything here?





Electrical going into wall cavities

Question 4 - I assume since it's a solid electrical wire that going through a hole drilled in the wood is OK. Am I correct here? To air seal this, GreatStuff Fireblock - or high temperature caulk?





Electrical in open cavity above basement stairway

Question 5 - I'm going to be closing off the open cavity above the basement stairway. I see some loose hanging, free floating, connections down in there. Does this need to be fixed? (If so, the back wall of our close hallway will give me easy access, because it's quite a few feet down from where I can get in the attic.)

Question 6 - Does the un-attached wire that dangles down from a rafter need to be changed?





Tapped-in extension

Question 7 - I think this is an easy one. The ceiling light enclosure you see no longer has a light. Someone moved it about 4 feet away. Looks like they snipped the electrical wire that was there, and spliced in an extension. This was hanging out under the existing insulation. Put this in a box, right?





Another splicing

Question 8 - Looks like someone spliced in an electrical wire, but it runs about 6 feet, then is capped off. No idea what its purpose was. I really can't tell what the ball of mass is at the splice. Doesn't quite look like electrical tape. All this was hanging out under the existing insulation. Do I put the splice point and the capped wires in a box, or should I remove the splice and put that spot in a box?





Yet another splicing

Question 9 - Ugly-looking extension, that leads to a bare cutoff wire, that's not even capped. Unsure this wire's live, of course treating it like it is. Should I cut at the splice, cap the ends, and put in a box? This was of course hanging out under the existing insulation.

 
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  #2  
Old 11-18-11, 05:16 PM
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Looking at the pictures you provided it's lucky you haven't had a fire already! To say there are numerous code violations be an understatement. While we could certainly walk you through repairing everything you showed there's no telling how many other problems you probably have. I think to be safe you should an electrician and have him review everything.

Every splice needs to be redone and put inside of a box, the wire going through the sheet metal needs a grommet and quite a bit of the wiring needs to be replaced at the very least. These are just things I noticed off the top of my head but I'm sure there are others.
 
  #3  
Old 11-18-11, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Msradell View Post
Looking at the pictures you provided it's lucky you haven't had a fire already! To say there are numerous code violations be an understatement. While we could certainly walk you through repairing everything you showed there's no telling how many other problems you probably have. I think to be safe you should an electrician and have him review everything.

Every splice needs to be redone and put inside of a box, the wire going through the sheet metal needs a grommet and quite a bit of the wiring needs to be replaced at the very least. These are just things I noticed off the top of my head but I'm sure there are others.
This is the answer I was expecting, but not the one I was hoping for, LOL.

We have a non-existent budget. Haven't been getting a paycheck for a while, and have been getting by with family assistance from family members whose budgets are all running red, too.

To give me a general idea of magnitude, what would we expect something like this to cost? I'm not looking for an exact figure, but I don't know if it's more like $500 or $5,000. (EDIT: $500 would be very painful, but possible. $5,000 I just don't see how we could do it. It's going to be more like $5,000, isn't it...)

The person who we bought the house from said they had an electrician re-do the home's wiring. I don't know whether this means they replaced everything but the attic, had an unlicensed person do it who didn't know what they were doing, or completely lied about it.


I don't know when we're going to be able to pay for this. Although I realize it's not optimum, if you or someone else could let me know what to do myself for now if the estimates come in out of budget, I'd appreciate that.
 
  #4  
Old 11-18-11, 06:50 PM
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Nothing I saw in the pictures would be that expensive to repair but I'm not sure about anything else. For what I saw in the pictures I wouldn't expect the cost to be much more than $500 and maybe less. The material costs will be minimal, just a few boxes and wire so the majority of the costs will be labor. He didn't show where you lived but assuming nonunion labor is available I would look for it. Also look for a smaller shop so overhead isn't a big issue. Have them give you an estimate before starting work and notify you of anything else they find.
 
  #5  
Old 11-19-11, 01:51 AM
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Darnit! I just notices the pictures in my original post are all in reverse order from the headings they belong to.

Too late to edit the post, now.

My headings go:
Ceiling light and bathroom fan enclosures
Electrical going into wall cavities
Electrical in open cavity above basement stairway
Tapped-in extension
Another splicing
Yet another splicing

But the pictures are in the order of:
Yet another splicing
Another splicing
Tapped-in extension
Electrical in open cavity above basement stairway
Electrical going into wall cavities
Ceiling light and bathroom fan enclosures
 
  #6  
Old 11-19-11, 11:01 AM
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While I saw many code violations in the pictures I did not see anything that I thought was an immediate threat of fire or life safety. I have no doubt that a competent DIYer can repair all the problems.

All splices need to be made up in boxes, this may require to boxes with a short piece of appropriately-sized cable between. I personally would move any junction boxes to framing above the proposed level of the new insulation.

Any cable that enters a box needs to be secured (stapled) to the framing within a specific distance of the box, I don't remember if that distance is 6, 8 or 12 inches. It may be different depending on whether or not the box has a cable clamp. Most boxes DO require some kind of clamp for the cable.

Any "dead-ended" cables (cables not connected at one end) should be removed back to a splice (junction or fixture) box. If this is impractical then the end should be enclosed in a box and the conductor ends insulated. I like to use appropriately-sized wire nuts on the ends of UNstripped conductors.

I suggest that you buy the book Wiring Simplified and read it cover to cover. The book is readily available in the electrical aisle (NOT the books and magazine section) of the big box mega-mart homecenters
 
  #7  
Old 11-19-11, 01:04 PM
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The only other thing I can add to Furd's post is ad cable entering through a hole, like the one for the fan, requires some type of connecter listed for the type cable being used.

The cable being run through the framing appears to be fine.
 
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