Modern Electrical

There are only a few remnants of the original wiring left in the house. This weekend, Noel spent some time getting a few of them into a slightly more modern trim.

Testing where the wires run

We first spent some time figuring out where the wires that came out of the old fuse box on the second floor (hidden in the closet of the front bedroom) were connected. We did this with a terribly professional setup of an ohmmeter and an extension cord, and let me tell you it feels super safe to be doing this.

On the other hand, it did explain some wacky wiring things with the old knob and tube.

New wiring in the attic

The very last knob and tube goes to the lights in the hallway. There's a light over the stairs, one in the entry, and one outside on the porch. We don't have access to all of those spaces right now, but we will, so Noel replaced what he could. Most significantly, the box for the light over the stairs, which stopped working when we did the new subpanel upstairs because of more scary old wiring.

Today Noel spent some time re-running the attic electrical through the ceiling joists instead of over them. With the big renovation we are going to put down plywood in the attic to give a walkable surface, with access panels for getting to things. Having the wiring out of the way will help with that.

Those buckets are there because the roof is leaking. We had some very windy weather which tore more shingles off the roof and the last couple of times it rained, well, let's just say the buckets were necessary. I'm looking forward to a new roof, even though the city planning department has insisted on a style of roof that actually can't be waterproofed, so I'm not sure how that is going to shake out. I had an idea today but I have exactly two days to get it onto paper before any changes become a royal pain in the ass.

Labeled wires on the box

A kind of sensible thing to do when wiring is to use a labelmaker and label all the wires. It will save you trouble or possibly injury in the future. And it is very emotionally satisfying. And of course the breaker box should have labels, too, but the wires themselves being labeled helps a lot, especially with this kind of box in an attic or crawlspace.

The old fuse box is not a fuse box any more

So, after a couple of hours of fiddling, the old fuse box is not a fuse box any more (it was wired to a breaker ages ago so the fuses were kind of beside the point anyway). In the future those will be continuous runs of wiring and the box need not be there, either, which will be nice since it takes up quite a lot of space in the closet.

The hall light works again

And now the hall light works again! It has a nice new box and everything, and I'm considering what kind of fixture to install there. Maybe just screwing this fixture in for the time being, since we'll be tearing the place apart in a few months.

holy cow

We found this in the switch box downstairs while working. It has been replaced with pigtails of modern wiring. And this does not even make the top ten scariest wiring in the house.

stripped plate

Since we had it off, anyway, Noel soaked the downstairs switch plate in Safest Stripper and got it cleaned up. It's a little wabi-sabi, but it works.

Now we have a bunch of old knob and tube wiring pieces and parts, and I need to come up with some kind of interesting shadow box display for them. Maybe when I've gotten this big renovation project through permitting I will have free time.

posted by ayse on 05/24/15


We are planning on making a wind chime using our knobs and tubes.

"the city planning department has insisted on a style of roof that actually can't be waterproofed,"


Karen Anne, they nixed the metal roof (though the low-slope parts of our roof were metal) and insisted that we either use wood shake (fire hazard) or asphalt shingle (not invented at the time of the house's construction), neither of which can be used on a low-slope roof. I'm not sure exactly how they intend for us to work that around the building code, but it will probably mean going back to them to say, hey, remember how I said that roof would not work? It doesn't work.

The whole thing is very frustrating and I should write a lengthy post about it, but first I'm going to get us through the planning process.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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