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WillK 01-07-2011 10:44 PM

My utility room's wiring, before rewiring
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Hi. I'm an engineer. I'm probably on the autistic spectrum. I'm really not very social, but on subjects of interest to me (such as engineering, cars and home repairs) I can speak at great length, and I like doing this online especially because I can ramble endlessly without anyone stopping me - and I can add pictures, which themselves say a thousand words. I do really try to regulate myself, though, when I post because I know that if I ramble too much, I loose my audience and therefore won't get answers to questions I'm asking.

This time, I'm not asking any questions. I'm just venting, and I felt this would be a good place to do so as perhaps it might have some entertainment value. So with all of this said about who and how I am, consider yourself warned.

My objective on my current project is to rewire my kitchen and second floor bedrooms, with most new circuits running to a new subpanel in the utility room. At a later date I plan to do another round of wiring which will include upgrading service from 100A to 200A, moving the service entrance from the current main panel to this new subpanel, running 100A to the garage and more...

Within the scope of the current project, I've run all of my wires to the new outlets, the subpanel is installed and so on... I'm putting finishing touches this weekend to prepare for my rough inspection. So I'm in the attic of my utility room preparing to clean out old insulation, lay down new insulation, staple down cables on top of joists and so on. Old wires are present, and thus I present the subject of my story - the old wiring.

As the house was when we purchased it, there is a circuit labelled as "utility room". This, of course, does not apparently shut off the ceiling light in the utility room. Also, it apparently also serves:
- the countertop receptacles on the exterior wall of the kitchen,
- the disposal in the kitchen, a ceiling light over the sink in the kitchen,
- an exterior light (possibly a second, but we've not had that other one working because the bulb may be burned out - never had occasion to check).
- the garage

No GFCI of course. I've removed the countertop outlets that were on this circuit.

One outlet near the utility sink had the appearance of being newer, and I've found most of the newer electrical things in the house are professionally done or at least appear so. Being that I had earlier diagnosed that it was on the same circuit as the afforementioned countertop outlets, I had pulled it out because I was trying to trace the origin of a reverse polarity situation with the countertop outlets. This outlet was not reversed polarity. Nevertheless, I noted something peculiar.

This outlet was physically at the bottom of a surface mounted raceway that goes up to the ceiling, across to the light, then across and down to the switch on the opposite wall. Remember, the light I said was not on the utility room circuit? Or did I forget that?

Anyway, this wire was connected to a feeder that went into the wall. But there was 1 black wire and 2 white wires, the white wire runs up into the raceway.

Today I had occasion to further investigate what was up with the light, because as I began removing old insulation, I observed a cable that went into the light from above. Which seemed odd because I had assumed that everything for the light must be running in the surface mounted raceway, and now apparently that is not the case. I openned the light fixture.

Inside the light fixture, a single white wire comes from the raceway connecting to the outlet and a single white wire comes from the switch on the opposite wall. A third white wire wrapped with black tape comes from above the ceiling. This third wire is connected to one side of the light fixture's wires, the other 2 connect to the other side.

At this point, I know that at the least, I have a light fixture with a hot from one circuit and a neutral that is always connected to a different circuit, so I assume it must be switched from a hot but I don't yet know if the other neutral wire is connected to the circuit of the plug that is on the "utility room" circuit or if it's on the same circuit as the light, in which case it is bridging 2 circuits... Which technically happens in the breaker box, but I don't think it would be favorable if he existing circuit wanted a GFCI or AFCI.

The garage needs work, but I can keep it shut off so it can wait. Enough said on that.

As for the state of the remainder of the wiring, I'll let the picture I'll attach speak for itself. I don't know which wire feeds the power, all I know is I'd strongly prefer to not use any of it. In fact, I think that's what I'll do, and the power I need for now is just going to have to run off extension cords until the inspection.

As for the picture, yes that is knob and tube. Spliced to it are various BX, cloth sheathed cable, twisted lighter gage wires for a doorbell. The other picture shows one or two of the wires that somehow disappear down from the attic and apparently emerge on the exterior of the drywall and go into it... I'd seen this exposed wire and thought surely it's not in use. Guess I was wrong, but I'll be fixing that as soon as I get being flabbergasted out of my system.

And if you made it this far, I thank you for your patience and hope you never have to face anything that tops this.

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