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Old 01-06-2011, 08:59 AM   #1
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


Hello all, first post here. No serious problems yet but I wanted to introduce myself and explain some of the fun points. I've been in my 2 family house with my girlfriend now for about 60 days. It's early 1900-1920's with every kind of wiring you can think of. It's a hodge podge of defunct/disconnected Knob and Tube, Rotting BX, clothe wrapped wire, ect. ect.

The downstairs has been updated pretty well in the kitchen and bathroom area's, the only real issue down there is the fact that most of the outlets in the living areas are still 2 prong, I will be wanting to run new Romex down into the basement from those drops and have an electrician finish up at the panel, at least that's what I'm thinking.

This all started because I wanted to swap fans out of the units. I wanted the nicer fan and light combo in MY kitchen, not the rental apartment ( ). In my kitchen, the fan box is a complete POS, but it' went together alright and the insulation on the clothe fabric was in decent condition (and it's a finished flooring above. I wont be able to deal with replacing it at this time).

In the rental kitchen upstairs? Eh, not so much. I cracked that baby open and found 8 different lines coming into this box. All clothe wiring, most of it showing bare wire. No bushings at the box inlets, tapped together half ass, and sparked like a mother when we turned the breaker back on to check on some things with the multimeter.

Luckily for me, we have half a "finished" attic, with a walk in section of bare lumber and blown in cellulose. So, my father and I went in there yesterday and started moving the cellulose around. I ended up finding what I believe to be an unboxed splice that is the feed from the 1st level on this circuit (I couldn't believe it when I saw that). I've also got atleast 2 junction boxes with no covers that were buried in insulation.

Needless to say, that breakers off, and it's going to stay off until I get those boxes replaced at the very least.

Anyways, back to the fan.

I tore the box out (along with a sizable piece of plaster) and followed the 4 BX cables back out. Here's the combo coming out of the ceiling fan box;

1 Pull Chain Light in Pantry, then fed to 2 prong outlet (unknown after that)
1 Pull Chain Light in Second Bedroom (No box). Terminates there
1 Single Pole Switch for the fan/light combo
1 Pull Chain Light in a hallway (feeds to an an outlet, 2 single poles and 2 light fixtures in the stairway, not dealing with this part for now).

That's all being fed from the spliced and caped set of wires without the box.

Here's my thing. I am by no means an expert, but I have excellent access and all of these are straight drops from the attic with no obstructions, I can snake new 12/3 very easily to each of these fixtures and pull all the old BX out (which will make me feel a lot better).

Rather then having them all coming out of that fan box, I'd like to install a junction box at the feed wires and send direct lines to the closet and pantry lights. (Or, should I leave room for expansion at the feed box, and pull the 2 lights out of a separate box? I just thought of that now).

That way I only have to deal with the hallway stuff and single pole switch at the fan junction. The other thing is that I do want to eventually ground all this properly. I'm not quite sure how I need to handle that yet.

Sorry for the long post and lack of technical terms. I'm not easily intimidated (could be considered a serious flaw when it comes to electricity probably, lol) but this little start seems to be pretty straight forward. I just want to make sure everything is done right, we get rid of the fire hazard, and I want to be as efficient as possible. Any hints, tips, tricks, heckling would be great. I'll be here in my office researching electrical code and simple circuits all day.

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Old 01-06-2011, 09:55 AM   #2
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


A couple of basics first:

Where are you located?

You say this is a 2 family house. Most (if not all) jurisdictions require work in rental property to be done by a licensed electrician.

You are planning to rewire with NM cable (Romex), is this allowed in your jurisdiction?

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Old 01-06-2011, 10:14 AM   #3
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


Probably would have been good to mention location huh? I'm in Palmer, MA. The house is a 2 story that previous owners have turned into an Up/Down 2 family home. Bathrooms (2 full baths total) and Kitchens are aligned vertically and none of the services are separate at the moment (Sharing forced hot air oil heat and hot water). I'm going to say....2 previous owners ago is when they turned the upstairs into a rent able space. If it was a contractor that did it in the first place I would be surprised, from the looks of it, most of this was down by an owner.

As far as my jurisdiction is concerned, it is zoned as a multiple family, but with it being owner occupied I do get a lot of leeway as to what I can do, but I haven't confirmed it with the town. Since I've down the disconnection, traced the lines, and done some necassary demo, I'm not adverse to calling in an licensed electrician for opinions, but I'm trying to realize as much cost savings as possible at this point. I have another big project on the horizon as well (cleaning up the limestone mortar in the field stone basement) and this just happened to come up for me last night, and I consider it a safety hazard the way it is now. I'll have to get some pictures up later on in the evening to for anyone interested in a visual.

One thing it would be good for me to know is where the line is between Basic Repair, and permit pulling required updating. I'm guessing I might be getting into permit pulling territory.

The thing with me is that I know just about enough about wiring to be dangerous, but my background and work field is Mechanical Engineering, so I don't know a lot of the intricacy's involved. I did learn a lot about the general layout of the house's system last night so that in itself made this foray worth it, even if you do recommend that I have someone come in to work it.

Oh, and i forgot, but there has been contracted work done on the house recently, and they did run non-metallic romex into the box and fixtures for GFI outlets in the kitchen and bath, so I don't see that as an issue.

Last edited by SeanRP; 01-06-2011 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:17 AM   #4
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


To do this right you are far past the line of needing a permit.

Your situation is good because you have access. Your best bet is to pull out or abandon all current wiring and re-wire it the right way with Romex. That'll take care of all your problems, from open splices to grounding.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:27 AM   #5
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


Quote:
Originally Posted by General View Post
To do this right you are far past the line of needing a permit.

Your situation is good because you have access. Your best bet is to pull out or abandon all current wiring and re-wire it the right way with Romex. That'll take care of all your problems, from open splices to grounding.
Yea, it is really easy to get at probably 90% of all the wiring in the house, the only stuff that will be a PITA is the ceiling fixtures in my unit because everything above it is finished. And your right about getting all the old stuff out, that's what I want as an end result. My thing is that I have a 8k dollar cushion and If i can avoid depleting it to harshly It would be nice. I'm working on an electrical diagram now based on my hand sketch's that I made last night. I have a few good licensed electricians that I can contact for free assessments. Is the work I'm doing now going to do anything to help keep costs down? If I can just have a pro come in and do the drops I'm hoping that might knock off a couple hundred in labor anyways.

Last edited by SeanRP; 01-06-2011 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:33 AM   #6
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


Running the electric requires a permit here
In some areas/Towns of MA they will not let a homeowner do their own wiring
Many do allow it, people have posted various results
If you plan on having an electrician finish your work have one lined up in advance that will do that
Many will not finish a HO work (liability), or will charge virtually the same $$ & will go back & check everything you have done
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:38 AM   #7
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


Well, it would be easy enough for me to just go back in there and make the connections at the boxes again. All I've done currently is take the light fixtures off the boxes and pull the fan box off the mount in the ceiling. All i need to do is remount the wood brace and make the connections again. It took me all of about 3 hours. I have yet to actually do anything with the BX aside from disconnect and get it out of the insulation.

I guess the other thing is to, If i do pull a permit and have the work done, it goes on public record and could end up helping the value of the house out once I get the service and box upgraded.
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:33 AM   #8
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


Talk to some electricians in your area, some may give you a break if all you do is simply get all of the old wiring and things out. Most will not allow you to run all the wire and them just make the connections however because of the liability that comes involved.

Last edited by Sfeyelectric; 01-06-2011 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 01-06-2011, 03:11 PM   #9
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Replaceing Old, Brittle BX With Fresh Shiney Romex


Sean,
In Mass. A homeowner can only pull a permit to do his own electrical if they are in a single family owner occupied dwelling.

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