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Old 11-18-2008, 01:34 PM   #16
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Electrified Wall?


First off thanks for the input to date. So here's where I am at so far. The walls are actual plaster over wood lathe (not metal). I swapped the breaker with an extra new one I had on hand and there was no change. I then proceeded to trace how the wire was run throughout the basement. It went into a metal junction box and is secured with wire nuts. Tested with a Fluke digital multimeter and read 120VAC (actually 119 and change). Then it ran uniterupted into what looks like an old, original fuse panel (metal box about 12" square 3" deep with a D-ring pull to open the box). Tested at that point and had 120VAC.

Now it gets interesting. In the old fuse panel it is connected to the classic knob & tube cloth sheathed wire that heads up to the first floor. The closest outlet box that is not working is about 6 feet or so away from were the other wires are fed up from and is the end of the run (only 2 wires enter the box). So I know that the feed probably heads up to the ceiling fixture first and then goes from there. I have not pulled that fixture yet as I had go to work the rest of the weekend.

Issue #2 that has come to light from working on this is the amount of items fed off of this circuit. The list is as follows: Living room light, living room outlet, parlor light, dining room light, 1st floor bedroom light, 1st floor closet light, stairwell to 2nd floor light, 2nd floor office closet, 2nd floor hallway light, 2nd floor bedroom lights (3 seperate bedrooms), 2nd floor closet lights (2 closets), and all 2nd floor bedroom outlets (6 total). I'd say too much for one 15A circuit to handle.

The items on the 2nd floor were from an attic remodel in the mid 1950's. I am guessing that they fed everything off of a single attic light and more than doubled the load on the circuit. Even if I can find what the issue is it may not matter as I am guessing rewiring these spaces may be a must.

Thoughts? Next steps? Is it time to start cutting openings in the walls to feed new circuits?
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:54 PM   #17
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Electrified Wall?


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First off thanks for the input to date. So here's where I am at so far. The walls are actual plaster over wood lathe (not metal). I swapped the breaker with an extra new one I had on hand and there was no change. I then proceeded to trace how the wire was run throughout the basement. It went into a metal junction box and is secured with wire nuts. Tested with a Fluke digital multimeter and read 120VAC (actually 119 and change). Then it ran uniterupted into what looks like an old, original fuse panel (metal box about 12" square 3" deep with a D-ring pull to open the box). Tested at that point and had 120VAC.

Now it gets interesting. In the old fuse panel it is connected to the classic knob & tube cloth sheathed wire that heads up to the first floor. The closest outlet box that is not working is about 6 feet or so away from were the other wires are fed up from and is the end of the run (only 2 wires enter the box). So I know that the feed probably heads up to the ceiling fixture first and then goes from there. I have not pulled that fixture yet as I had go to work the rest of the weekend.

Issue #2 that has come to light from working on this is the amount of items fed off of this circuit. The list is as follows: Living room light, living room outlet, parlor light, dining room light, 1st floor bedroom light, 1st floor closet light, stairwell to 2nd floor light, 2nd floor office closet, 2nd floor hallway light, 2nd floor bedroom lights (3 seperate bedrooms), 2nd floor closet lights (2 closets), and all 2nd floor bedroom outlets (6 total). I'd say too much for one 15A circuit to handle.

The items on the 2nd floor were from an attic remodel in the mid 1950's. I am guessing that they fed everything off of a single attic light and more than doubled the load on the circuit. Even if I can find what the issue is it may not matter as I am guessing rewiring these spaces may be a must.

Thoughts? Next steps? Is it time to start cutting openings in the walls to feed new circuits?
It is code to have all of that on one circuit. So its ok, but probably not satisfactory if your tripping breakers all of the time.

First off, check the old fuse panel...maybe a fuse is blown, it happens...

If that doesn't work, cut the power and open that close outlet, what does it look like in there? Check some of the switch boxes. You might just find a burnt connection.

Always test even if you assume its dead.

Last edited by rgsgww; 11-18-2008 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 11-28-2008, 09:34 AM   #18
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Electrified Wall?


I found the problem (only had to cut one hole in the wall and two in the ceiling to find it). I backfed power through one of the outlets on the circuit while the breaker was off using a length of 14 ga. NM (plugged it in directly to a good circuit). Found out that the issue was between the first light fixture and where the circuit was fed from the basement. It turns out the first splice for the neutral was not making good contact. I removed all old tape and cleaned the wires thoroughly. Insulation looked good so I just used some linesman's pliers to crimp down the wires, soldered the connection and retaped with heavy gauge 3M electrical tape. Now we're back in business.

I still can't figure out why the probe tester gives false readings though. Maybe something to do with lack of a true ground? Oh well.
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Old 11-28-2008, 09:51 AM   #19
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soldered the connection and retaped with heavy gauge 3M electrical tape.


Ever heard of a wire nut?
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Old 11-28-2008, 11:07 AM   #20
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Electrified Wall?


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Ever heard of a wire nut?


Isn't that method allowed? I never done that method...only seen it done in k&t setups...
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Old 11-28-2008, 11:23 AM   #21
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Electrified Wall?


Splice is within the wall cavity - Typical 100 year old knob and tube installation - Not inside a junction box. I didn't think wire nuts were acceptable in this type of application. A friend sent me the info below.

ARTICLE 394 of the 2002 NEC
Commentary from the NFPA Handbook
ARTICLE 394 Concealed Knob-and-Tube Wiring

394.56 Splices and Taps.
Splices shall be soldered unless approved splicing devices are used. In-line or strain splices shall not be used.
Wire nuts are not allowed to be used outside of boxes; neither would butt-splices or WAGO connector type
connections. Split-bolt connections are allowed, but not practical, and subject to failure over time. Also none
of those connectors could be concealed. This only leaves a “Mechanical” splicing method, such as a “Pig-tail”,
“Knotted Tap” or “Western-Union”. (Modified or Traditional) These splicing methods will be covered later in
this document. According to 110.14(B), all splices need to be mechanically and electrically secure, and not
dependant on solder for continuity, it also requires that the splice be insulated with rubber, and friction tape, or
thermoplastic tape greater than the thickness of the insulation of the conductor.
110.14(B) Splices. Conductors shall be spliced or joined with splicing devices identified for the use or by brazing, welding,
or soldering with a fusible metal or alloy. Soldered splices shall first be spliced or joined so as to be mechanically and
electrically secure without solder and then be soldered. All splices and joints and the free ends of conductors shall be
covered with an insulation equivalent to that of the conductors or with an insulating device identified for the purpose.
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Old 11-28-2008, 11:29 AM   #22
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Electrified Wall?


It should also be noted that when I say I "crimped" the wires they were already pigtailed together and I was just using the pliers to insure good contact before soldering.
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Old 11-28-2008, 11:38 AM   #23
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Electrified Wall?


Sounds like you know what you are doing. I didn't realize you were dealing with such an old installation.
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Old 11-29-2008, 05:58 AM   #24
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Electrified Wall?


perhaps its time to consider rewiring that circuit up to date and code, as naustalgic as having old knob and tube in good working condition may be nothing lasts forever and you will find it to become more problematic over time, plus if you do not gfi protect that circuit it does contain the potential to some day through an electrical fault (due to the lack of a ground) to electricute someone.

besides insurance companies hate it and sometimes demand it to be removed or will refuse to insure or renew insurance.

for resale it is a hinderence as it gets a big X on a home inspectors list
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