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mnp13 11-09-2011 11:32 AM

Just want to share my nightmare
It's time to insulate my attic... (sigh)

I hate the attic. It has spiders. Lots of spiders. LOTS of them.

But I hate no insulation even more. So the husband is clearing the spiders so I can insulate, and in cleaning up the mess up there from previous owners / tenants we found - live wires attached to each other with electrical tape. Many many connections with wire nuts just sticking out - not a junction box to be seen. And the bestest part - what appears to be live wires attached to knob and tube, then back to live wires again.

So, instead of insulating this weekend it looks like I'm going to be rewiring the entire upstairs. I'm not amused.

AllanJ 11-09-2011 11:42 AM

For the time being you can turn off the power, then untape the various wires joined together without wire nuts, and twist a wire nut onto each exposed junction.

The exposed knob and tube wires may not have insulation poured around them. You can trace each circuit and rewire things a little at a time.

mnp13 11-09-2011 11:47 AM

True... but I know me, and once I get started I'm just going to want to get it done... :laughing:

I may just do it room by room, and insulate over each section as I complete it.

Thankfully I can turn off the entire second floor but keep power to the first floor so I'll have lights (no windows in the attic.)

Tonight I'm mapping everything that's there, so I can figure out what I'm going to do. Hopefully some of the newer stuff is in good enough shape to save - I'll just install junction boxes and do it correctly. I don't want to think about how much that copper would cost!!!

Snav 11-09-2011 11:48 AM

One thing that will hopefully make it easier and less time consuming - if you have to remove wire from walls and feed in new wire - is to connect the new wire to the old wire before you pull it out. . . a tight crimp connection between the two will allow it to pull through holes if they're small. In my house I've been able to overlap the wires a little and tape them together because the feed-holes were large enough.

Jim Port 11-09-2011 12:14 PM

@ Snav, most of the times the wiring should be stapled in the wall cavity.

Snav 11-09-2011 01:07 PM


Originally Posted by Jim Port (Post 767328)
@ Snav, most of the times the wiring should be stapled in the wall cavity.

Very true.

jimmy21 11-09-2011 01:20 PM

39 Attachment(s)
if it were me, i wouldn't touch the old wiring. Run a new circuit from the electrical panel and start from scratch. If there is nightmares like that exposed, there are probably a bunch buried too

Snav 11-09-2011 01:47 PM


Originally Posted by jimmy21 (Post 767364)
if it were me, i wouldn't touch the old wiring. Run a new circuit from the electrical panel and start from scratch. If there is nightmares like that exposed, there are probably a bunch buried too

Well - to do that she'd still have to remove the old wiring and feed in new wiring. . .what the previous 'diyer' should have done to begin with.

mnp13 11-09-2011 02:50 PM

Not touching the old wiring is not an option unfortunately, but I'm going to replace what needs replacing as I find it. I don't really know how some of it was put in in the first place, as the house was built with gas lights, not electric. It also has fire breaks half way down all of the walls, so feeding wires would have been nearly impossible. I'm thinking that there were some holes made, but most likely they pulled baseboards for some of it. The height of plugs and switches are very weird - or that's what we thought until we found the fire breaks. (who installs an outlet four feet from the floor??) And to be honest, though I do want to get it right this time around, pulling baseboards is just not in the plan right now - and bordering on impossible, as we have found some woodwork that was installed using screws (found that by accident) so I'd have to find each fastener.

Someone did install a complete breaker box on the second floor, which is nice, so I'll be able to cut power completely upstairs. I found out the very hard way that there is some sort of cross wiring going on because even after a breaker is off on the first floor sometimes there is enough current to be quite... um... shocking. My father taught me to always treat wiring like it's live, even when it's off - and that saved me from getting knocked off my ladder that day!

It's good I love this house, because some days... well... I'm sure I'm not the first one here to think that!

I'm sure it will go pretty quick once I get going on it.

mnp13 11-09-2011 07:36 PM


It's not what we thought...

The circuit box has romex coming out of the top of it, that goes to the attic, then across the attic... where it connects with the beginning of a maze of knob and tube. The knob and tube is spliced in with romex in different areas of the attic, depending on when the plug or fixture was installed. The "first round" of fixtures is still run by the original knob and tube. The second round is romex.

Am I capable of taking care of this? Yes. Do I want to? No. However, I have the feeling I'm not going to want to know the cost of fixing this mess correctly.

What initially looked like electrical taped wires is electrical taped wires - the knob and tube wires. The splices with the romex are just bare in some places, wire nutted in others.

Well, at least I don't have to play in insulation any time soon...

Anyone know an electrician in the Rochester, NY area?

Billy_Bob 11-09-2011 07:57 PM

For spiders, get one or more of those "fogger" insecticide cans at the grocery or hardware store. Set it off, then close attic over night. Air out good before going back in.

Then I would advise you to take pictures of all the wiring before doing any work on anything.

Also test all the outlets, lights, switches in the house before doing anything. Then you know they were working. After doing some electrical work each day, test all those below that area to be sure they still work. If not, then you will know the general area you were working in and where the problem might be.

Otherwise if you rewire the whole works, then something does not work, it is like "where do I begin???" :)

mnp13 11-09-2011 08:58 PM

Unfortunately we can't do the foggers. I get migraines from smells, and the only place to "air it out" to is the house because there are no windows and only one small vent in the attic.

Great idea on the outlet testing / sectioning. If I do the work I'll take that advice! I may just ignore it until spring and then start. We've had four cold winters, another won't kill us. And that will give me time to do it correctly and not be up against freezing temps moving in.

I can also make a solid plan on what to do and how I want to go about it.

If we can afford to have it done I'll bite the bullet and pay someone, but that will be a stretch.

Snav 11-09-2011 09:30 PM

Yeah - just get an electrician. They're faster, more efficient - they know all the rules and tricks.

I hired an electrician to install a new box and 'reverse' the incorrect wiring schematic . . . nothing wrong with bringing in help!

mnp13 11-10-2011 11:46 AM

2 Attachment(s)
A couple of pictures from the attic.

jimmy21 11-10-2011 08:50 PM

39 Attachment(s)
glad thats your project and not mine :laughing:

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