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IvoryRing 06-08-2006 09:30 AM

Ranting about attic work
There is no question here, I'm just ranting about my attic & rewiring project.

I purchased my house last November, knowing it would require electrical work -- 100A Cutler Hammer panel from 1950 with replacement breakers up at abt $70 ea for a single pole 20A and week or so wait for them to arrive; half the outlets are 2 pin, the other half of 3 pin w/ the ground either hanging in air, or connected to neutral at the receptacle; mystery extension cords running in the attic with ground pin cut off and plugged into a porcelin lamp base; basically a mess!. I decided to tackle this mess myself. On top of this, I thought it would be a good idea to bring in AC/bat interconnected smoke detectors (there was exactly 1 in the kitchen, which takes 2 9V batteries, if this gives you an idea of the age of the thing)

The good news is that the old 'romex' (2 wire with no ground, wrapped in a tar soaked fabric and painted -- not sure what the proper name for this is) is all actually in pretty good condition, it's just that there is no way to get 'ground' (EGC) to, well, anywhere. At least I don't have to worry too much about 'nudge an existing line and it falls apart'. This is good, because I'm doing the rewiring
while I live here, so keeping the impact to a minimum is important.

The bad news is that it's a ranch on a concrete slab - so all the wiring is run in the attic. And what an attic it is... very shallow pitch to the roof, and the crawlspace available is 4' at the highest point. That's after digging down through 2 layers of fiberglass, the bottom layer being significantly older than the top. As an example, there is something between 1 and 2 ft of verticle space between joist & rafter in the center of each 'side room'.

When originally laid out, it seems there was a lot less light, and no real thought to placement of switches - only the smallest of the three bedrooms has a ceiling light - the other two don't even have a switch controlled outlet. No ceiling light in the living room, or switch for an outlet. Kitchen ceiling light switch is under the cabinet, which is oh so convenient. Dining room dimmer is similarly placed - if it is dark, you will stumble over at least one chair, maybe more, on the way to getting to the corner where the dimmer is.

So my current phase of this whole thing is lights, ceiling lights for the two bedrooms without, switches in sensible places, recessed lights for the living room and maybe the dining room.

The last couple of weeks, after work has been spent crawling around on my hands and knees in the attic, pulling back fiberglass, trying to puzzle out what and why they did things. And then running lots and lots of new romex. Cutting holes in the ceiling, running more romex. My knees are killing me (this is WITH gel kneepads), I've got all kinds of little knicks and cuts, blisters on the back of my knees from the kneepads, and so far, nothing but frustration to show for it. I can only hope it stays rainy and cool for another couple of days so I can at least get SOME lights working and take a break.

I keep telling myself that I'm saving money, and getting things wired up the way I want them; but there are times when that's slim consolation indeed. I have newfound respect for the filthy unpleasant aspect of the task that electricians face.

Bonus 06-08-2006 09:36 AM

I feel for you, Ivory, been there done that. At least it's not 100 degrees out there and 140 in the attic. Hope you're wearing a respirator, too, that old insulation is not good for you. Good luck w/project.

Swimmfst 06-14-2006 08:55 AM

Kick back, have a beer, watch Sportscenter, and take a night off. You have been busy.

IvoryRing 06-14-2006 10:18 AM

Things are progressing. I do take breaks - to work, to sleep... and mostly the weekends are 'off'... ok, it's not as grim as that! Two ceiling lights, a track light and four Insteon switches, as well as a handful of structured wire runs, prep for install of whole-house surge supressor (power, phone & cable) are done since I last ranted... every time I head into the attic it's a little bit more done.

Current annoyance: trying to figure out a placement of 6 recessed lights which both looks good from the room and is possible with all the crap in the way in the ceiling (strapping, hot & cold water lines, inconsistently spaced joists, chimney). I started out drilling a few exploratory holes (I can hear the call of spackle to fill them)... but since layout of the lights remains a bit of hurdle, I'm likely to finish up the structured wiring & surge supressor before I go back to that.

handifoot 04-15-2008 11:45 PM

Wow Joba, your compassion knows no bounds !

Speedy Petey 04-16-2008 05:02 AM

Guys, check the date of the posts.

Either K3 really likes these pants, or he works there and is trying to sell them here.

handifoot 04-16-2008 07:21 AM

You know I thought that rant sounded familiar. Sure hope he's nearly done by now.

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