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Old 01-09-2011, 12:52 PM   #1
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


My "new" house is packed full of scary electrical work, including a fair amount of the old aluminum 2 wire stuff seperated with ceramic insulators. I've been cleaning it out a little at a time as I go. I'm not too worried about it, its been that way for much longer than I've been walking the earth, and the house hasn't burnt down yet. a few live wires just snipped off are a bit scarier, and taking care of some of those is how I found something that really scared me.

Some Zeolite insulation (high asbestos content) had fallen down between the walls from the attic and pile up inside the return duct (just nailed sheet metal to the floor joists) for the furnace! so every time the furncace kicked on it was blowing asbestos throughout the house! I'm glad I found this fairly early on in my first winter there. I figure my total exposure is fairly minimal, less than a break job on an atique car, but it makes me wonder how much longer the old couple who lived there for years might have lasted.

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Old 01-09-2011, 04:07 PM   #2
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


switching neutral in my garage lites
i usually use the switch as my disconnect when changing lites but thank god i touched the hot to the box and it tripped the breaker

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Old 01-09-2011, 04:15 PM   #3
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


There was apparently a worldwide shortage of wiring nuts in the early 1970s when my house was built... I keep finding gobs of electrical tape holding splices together when replacing/repairing switches. This appears to be original construction, too, not DIY.

Every time I think I've fixed them all, I find some another spooky splice...
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Old 01-09-2011, 04:34 PM   #4
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


During our Bathroom reno, the medicine cabinet lights were just taped to the feed, and it was hanging in the wall, 14/2 NM feeding our garage in place of UF. Old trailer I had in the early nineties, whoever owned it before my sister bought it, the person used #18 zipcord for the front light, feeding from the outlet underneath for the heattape, which was just hanging underneath. Water heater fed off of the recepticle feeds for the kitchen outlets. Real mess to deal with, and by the time I sold it seven years later, Electric was up to code, compared to before.
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Old 01-10-2011, 12:02 PM   #5
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


A receptacle that had been overloaded and literally melted, but left in place. It had dark brown jacks and was in a shelf, so I didn't realize it was damaged until I plugged into the one that had melted down and found it inoperable.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:37 AM   #6
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


I've been pretty lucky so far. The worst things I have found:

The "Contractor" who gutted & redid the bathroom 1 year before we bought the house tied the nice new romex into the BX junction box from 1930 and piggybacked it off 2 bedrooms instead of giving it it's own circuit.

There's asbestos on some of my ducts, but they are either inside a wall or in the basement so I just sealed them behind some plywood.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:39 AM   #7
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


I started another thread on this a while back, I found SOOOO many electrical booboos here!
I'm surprised we're still alive and this place isn't a smoldering mass of crap!
It sure is nice now that all MY work has been inspected and all the stuff I found removed.

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Old 01-11-2011, 11:58 AM   #8
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


I'm sure I'll find more as I'm starting to rewire my new (old) house. So far my favorite was digging through my cellulose blown in insulation in the attic and finding uncovered junction boxes with live and rotted BX. One of them was pretty much bare wire.

I've also found an active string of knob and tube that goes up into my dining room wall. That was spliced in the basement to romex underneath a batt of R19.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:14 PM   #9
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If I can find it, I'll add a link to my thread.
I found.... buried behind drywall, live outlets, too many wirenutted/taped off splices to count i9n the walls, and even one spot where they went from 12-2 to 14-2, (or the other way around)!

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Old 01-11-2011, 02:20 PM   #10
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


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I've also found an active string of knob and tube that goes up into my dining room wall. That was spliced in the basement to romex underneath a batt of R19.
I had to walk away from a conversation the other day because the guy was 100% convinced it was both normal and according to code to tie romex into knob n' tube.
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:54 PM   #11
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


The knob and tube tie-ins are common place in my house. They don't even get a rise out of me. there is at least 6 different types of electrical wire. The new stuff with ground wires have their grounds snipped off for the most part. I was hoping to leave most of the newer stuff and just update to 3 prong outlets, but everything going to 2 prong outlets has its ground wire snipped off. I haven't got around to checking the stuff with 3 prong outlets yet. too much work I have already found to start looking for more. most hidden splices are not in boxes, and are just taped up.

ps.on a positive note, the old couple that lived here for years did not die of any form of respiratory cancer. That makes me feel a bit better about the asbestos in the ducts.

Last edited by forresth; 01-11-2011 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:24 AM   #12
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


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The knob and tube tie-ins are common place in my house. They don't even get a rise out of me.
Seeing it probably wouldn't get a rise out of me either .... what did get a rise out of me was someone 100% convinced that it was the "proper" way of doing it. I understand not everybody is going to A: Want to or B: Be able to afford ripping out knob and tube whenever they find it, but at least have the common sense to realize that 100+ year old non-insulated wiring is not ideal to tie your new circuit into.
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:29 AM   #13
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


I just hate not knowing where any of the ground or where there going. A lot of it is ground through BX, but then they replaced some sections with Romex down the line and broke the path so it's a PIA to trace everything. I absolutely despise haveing to plug expensive electronic in using adapters and surge protecters without 3 prong outlets.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:43 AM   #14
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


First house had knob and tube. I gutted a room and found two bare copper conductors running through a hole in the siding to a porch light. The circuit was still active. There were tooth marks on the remaining insulation. Above the porch ceiling was a squirrel skeleton. Guess the light must have been turned on?!? Second house I found #10 wire to a sub panel tied in to the lugs in the service panel AHEAD OF THE MAINS. Also found a 6 foot length of 16 gauge extension cord spliced in to the romex across the attic. Previous owner installed a pull down stairway to the attic and needed to lengthen a wire run that interfered with his opening. No junction boxes, just big wads of cloth tape and scorch marks along the joist near one of the splices.
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:28 AM   #15
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Scariest "Death trap" you found in your home?


Funny how the majority of these are electrical issues where someone thought they were "handy" and just patched stuff together.

We have a 1950 vintage home with wiring madness as well. Old ungrounded outlets, new ones just patched/spliced in at random, breakers that are not controlling anything that I can determine, a couple outlets added where they just drilled through the wall and ran the wiring outside to a point where it could come in through the crawlspace, etc., some that actually start or end nowhere, just orphan lengths of wiring that I'm not sure what they were for but they do make me wonder at times.

At some point in the near future, integrated into other larger projects, my intention is just to start at the box and work outwards to replace/repair or psychoanalyze the whole thing. The upside is that I will end up with scads of recyclable copper wiring to defray costs

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