Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Old wiring

We spent this past weekend at Norman's House, a recent acquisition that we plan to rent out after some modest renovation. The good news is that the house isn't haunted. The bad news is that the wiring covers multiple generations. At least some of the wiring is covered in plastic instead of fabric. That makes me happy. Most, but not all, of the wiring coming from the circuit breaker is plastic coated and colored somehow. By the time it reaches the second floor the only plastic stuff is from where someone decided "You know what this room needs? A light switch!" and added one. 

What you see below is what I've figured out about the wiring upstairs. Black lines are all upstairs. Red lines are in the basement. Pinkish lines are there, but not really important to the task at hand. Remember, these old wires are single wires, not the bundles of 3 or more you can expect, today. 

I don't know where the power is coming from! Two wires go into the wall from the basement and probably go to that switch at the bottom of the stairs. But only one wire comes out. THAT'S NOT HOW ELECTRICITY WORKS!!! Maybe in the back of the house? But... then what's going on with the two switches and the hall light? And, really, that needs to be a three-way switch with one at the bottom of the stairs, one at the top, and one at the far end of the hallway.

I'm getting close to just saying "gee, that's interesting. Now it all needs to go away and something sensible take it's place." I'm only being held back by the fear of mystery wires coming up with unexpected loads in unwanted places. Most of the work needs to be done between the roof and second floor ceilings. The diagram reflects lights in the front half of the house. Beyond that I need the skinny, 12 year old version of myself to crawl back there.

Anyone know of a particularly nifty circuit panel? This one is of a brand known for not flipping when it should. That's kind of the opposite of the problem we've been having, but whatever. The company has been out of business for awhile now. And I've seen some nifty light up panels with LEDs and stuff in recent years. No idea how to find them, though. "Awesome staircases" is a productive search. "Awesome electrical circuit panels"... less so.

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