Friday, June 23, 2006


Getting ready to do a refinance I found out that I was going to have to have a 4-point inspection (electrical, plumbing, HVAC and roof) for the insurance company. I knew that the house wouldn't pass the electrical because I still had the knob and tube wiring. I knew I was going to have to get it done eventually. I had gotten bids before I bought the house 2 years ago of $5000 and $7000. I called a couple of places and couldn't find anyone to even show up on short notice, much less do the work. I decided to do it myself. My recommendation -- don't try this at home. Now I know why electricians want so much for rewiring houses. It is hot dirty work. I spent many hours in my crawl spaces above and below my house.
It actually turned out to be, probably, relatively easy. I have a balloon frame house with no firestops. From my 2nd floor attic I could drop a weight on a string straight down to the ground, no holes to drill. My baseboard recepticles could be easily reached by bending the wire a bit and poking it up from the crawlspace below.
There were certainly some interesting problems. As required by code, ( and apparently 1926 common sense) three-way switches are required for stairways. I was determined not to have to do any major plaster work so even though the direct distance from the top switch to the bottom switch is about 12 feet, the length of the wire that connects the 2 is over 100 feet.
I was pretty concerned about getting power to the lights (LR Kit, DR) that lie under the 2nd floor. When I opened my crawlspace over my porch (there was no access to any attic spaces in the house) there were 2 x 12 joists between the ceiling and floor and I could see all of the way to the back of the house, including all of the wiring. I was able to tape my wire to a piece of 30' PVC and slide it all of the way down to my kitchen.
I ended up with about 80 hours of labor and there is now just over 1500 feet of wire in the house.
I did find some real potential problems. The knob and tube wiring was in pretty good shape actually even though I only had 2 original circuits one for all the lights and one for all of the outlets. Others had gotten added and my fuse box got updated to a breaker box in the 50's. The wiring that got added then was cloth covered romex, which was not in as good a shape as the knob and tube. I found some exposed wire ( no insulation) at one place and in general the insulation was dry and crumbly. The other place I found exposed wire was in the original lighting fixtures. The heat rising from the light combined with the age made those wires in general the worst in the house.


At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Rafe said...

I'm going to have to do something similar, though only halfway; whoever rewired my 1918 home -left all the old wire there- when they did it, so I get to remove it all, even though it's not connected to anything anymore.

It's frustrating that the person or persons who did the previous rewiring and re-plumbing work in my home didn't bother to remove any of the old lines anywhere.

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous tony said...

Hi Mike,
Just curious. Since you're a longtime Seminole Heights resident and diner at Nicko's if you knew my good buddy Jack Luper of On-line Electric?

I'm also a handyman over on the east coast of Florida and have a blog myself.

At 3:01 AM, Anonymous Electrical Rewiring said...

Nice informative post


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