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Old 11-09-2017, 12:20 PM   #1
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Best approach for my second floor rewiring?


I want to see what kind of recommendations I get for how to approach this project.

If time and money was no object, my approach would be to gut one room at a time and wire it as if it was new construction. I have a new subpanel in the master bedroom on the second floor and I have separate circuits for receptacles in each bedroom, lights for the whole second floor and a separate circuit for the bathroom. There are 4 AFCI breakers installed for the 3 bedroom receptacles and receptacles in the hallway..

My situation is that I more or less thrust myself into the present situation because some of the remaining knob and tube wires extended into the first floor (for 3-way switch running the second floor hallway light) and that led me to try (unsuccessfully) to map out the second floor lighting, which was in contact with a layer of paper faced R-19 fiberglass insulation, leading me to roll it back off of the K&T wiring, but now with winter weather beginning I'd much rather have insulation in place, so I've made my start down that rabbit hole.

Some of the receptacles are already wired with something newer than knob and tube, but it all is (or was) on two circuits... I've made it through most of the lighting on its own dedicated 15A circuit off a new subpanel in the second floor master bedroom.

In the process of rewiring the lighting, I've disconnected some of the interconnected knob and tube neutral lines. I knew going into this that once I cut the first wire, the whole thing would shut off, and I've used temporary connections so the kids don't have to shower in the dark and stuff like that... At this point, the lights are all back on new wire except the bathroom lights which are an unsolved mystery. Knob and tube goes in from the attic, romex comes out at the bathroom electrical box... I'm just going to abandon wire inside the wall and fish new wire through from above. I have all home runs accounted for, so I'm pretty sure I won't be leaving anything in the wall that is live.

The current situation is that there are 2 receptacles in each bedroom and not all of them work, but I think it's all running off once circuit. Most of the wires come together at one of two metal junction boxes in the attic, one has all romex going into it but the other has romex and knob and tube and flexible metal conduit cable.

The flexible metal conduit becomes a problem because of the difficulty of disconnecting the receptacle end of the cable. The romex is problematic because I've set up home runs in 12-2 of a 20 amp circuit, the existing romex is a mixture of 12-2 and 14-2 on the same circuit.

I'm finding the plaster isn't holding up well enough to put in old work boxes.

What's my best option to get this done, the priority being the wiring in the attic so I can insulate and having working receptacles in the kids bedrooms... I may be able to get some pics after I get home from work, but more likely I'll just sit and think it through then go to town.
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:33 PM   #2
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Re: Best approach for my second floor rewiring?


Here's what I've run into with existing boxes. All the ceiling boxes are metal pancake boxes on support rods, and they're smaller than current PVC pancake boxes. I tried replacing one with a plastic pancake box, and while I was successful, I had to open up the hole in the plaster and there's a large chunk that's loose now. I put a 2x4 across between the joists to support it. The support rod is still in.

I pulled 2 of the metal switch boxes that had the shielded flex cable attached. One of the old work boxes worked well, although the plaster fell away on one side beyond what the switch plate will cover, the other box pushed into the wall cavity when I installed the switch so it's not really held in place very well.

All the receptacles are close to the floor behind furniture (mostly large loft beds from IKEA)
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:50 PM   #3
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Re: Best approach for my second floor rewiring?


I think the best approach may be to install the new and then decommission the old. This gives you a time cushion to get things done while still having usable electric.

I would strongly suggest the SmartBox or the similar one from Arlington that screws to the sides of the studs.

http://www.aifittings.com/catalog/sp...-outlet-boxes/
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Old 11-09-2017, 01:51 PM   #4
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Re: Best approach for my second floor rewiring?


Jim, that thing is beautiful! Where has it been all my life?
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Old 11-09-2017, 02:27 PM   #5
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Re: Best approach for my second floor rewiring?


It was commonly done with regular nail on boxes, but was a code violation since the screws were exposed. Someone took the idea and got it listed and approved.
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:03 AM   #6
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Re: Best approach for my second floor rewiring?


At this point I have connections made, at least on a temporary basis, for enough that I have all knob and tube eliminated from use and I have functioning lights and receptacles in all rooms.

Here's my checklist by room:

Second floor hallway light: completely up to code and running off the first floor lighting circuit.

Second floor bathroom:
- GFCI receptacle and exhaust fan are running on a new 20A circuit, but the wire is 14-2. The home-run into the attic is 12-2. Long-term, new 12-2 would be used but there's a web of wiring in the wall, that will have to wait until the bathroom is remodeled. I'm going to change my breaker to 15A.
- Lights have been completely rewired and connected to the new 15A second floor lighting circuit. The hot 14-2 cable comes into the box for the light and connects to a 14-3 switch leg cable. This gets me a neutral at the switch in case I get lazy with the remodel, but decide that I'd like to go with an occupancy sensor switch. Plus it's code compliant.

Master bedroom:
- Lighting is on the second floor 15A lighting circuit with 14-2 romex feeding power to the ceiling fan box and a 14-3 cable to the switch. I don't have it wired for separate switching of the fan and light. This is up to code.
- 2 receptacles are on a dedicated 20A AFCI circuit with a new 12-2 romex home run into a junction box, but from there I'm currently connected to 14-2 romex runs to the receptacles. I need to pull new 12-2 cables to the receptacles to get this room code comliant.

NE bedroom:
- Ceiling light is wired with new 14-2 cable feeding power to the switch, then a 14-3 cable is run to the light. I have this in place in case of a future upgrade to a ceiling fan light. Code compliant, and it would allow me to upgrade to occupancy sensor if I chose.
- West wall receptacle is wired with flexible steel cable that seems to also feed the receptacle on the east wall of the NW bedroom. The condition of the wire does not seem to be good enough that I will reuse it, this is also the receptacle where I have the network router plugged in because it's in reach for Ethernet connections. I will have to put new boxes and cable in and abandon the flexible conduit in the wall.
- East wall receptacle is not connected, there is a 14-2 cable. I will probably see if I can't pull a 12-2 cable this evening so I don't have to have an additional junction box.

NW bedroom:
- The switch for the ceiling fan is near the switch for the NE bedroom in the same wall cavity a short 14-2 cable between the 2 boxes feeds power to the switch, then a double switch connects to a 14-3 cable run to the ceiling fan so the light and fan can be switched on/off from near the doorway. This done to code.
- East wall receptacle is inactive, as described in the NE bedroom.
- South wall receptacle is connected to a new 20A AFCI circuit dedicated for this room. The home run is new 12-2 cable, but that connects to 14-2 romex which I will need to replace. This is being used to run a low level light source my girls keep on at night.
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:48 AM   #7
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Re: Best approach for my second floor rewiring?


[QUOTE=WillK;4806802]At this point I have connections made, at least on a temporary basis, for enough that I have all knob and tube eliminated from use and I have functioning lights and receptacles in all rooms.

Here's my checklist by room:

Second floor hallway light: completely up to code and running off the first floor lighting circuit.

Second floor bathroom:
- GFCI receptacle and exhaust fan are running on a new 20A circuit, but the wire is 14-2. The home-run into the attic is 12-2. Long-term, new 12-2 would be used but there's a web of wiring in the wall, that will have to wait until the bathroom is remodeled. I'm going to change my breaker to 15A. - DONE
- Lights have been completely rewired and connected to the new 15A second floor lighting circuit. The hot 14-2 cable comes into the box for the light and connects to a 14-3 switch leg cable. This gets me a neutral at the switch in case I get lazy with the remodel, but decide that I'd like to go with an occupancy sensor switch. Plus it's code compliant.

Master bedroom:
- Lighting is on the second floor 15A lighting circuit with 14-2 romex feeding power to the ceiling fan box and a 14-3 cable to the switch. I don't have it wired for separate switching of the fan and light. This is up to code.
- 2 receptacles are on a dedicated 20A AFCI circuit with a new 12-2 romex home run into a junction box, but from there I'm currently connected to 14-2 romex runs to the receptacles. I need to pull new 12-2 cables to the receptacles to get this room code compliant. - DONE

NE bedroom:
- Ceiling light is wired with new 14-2 cable feeding power to the switch, then a 14-3 cable is run to the light. I have this in place in case of a future upgrade to a ceiling fan light. Code compliant, and it would allow me to upgrade to occupancy sensor if I chose.
- West wall receptacle is wired with flexible steel cable that seems to also feed the receptacle on the east wall of the NW bedroom. The condition of the wire does not seem to be good enough that I will reuse it, this is also the receptacle where I have the network router plugged in because it's in reach for Ethernet connections. I will have to put new boxes and cable in and abandon the flexible conduit in the wall. - DONE
- East wall receptacle is not connected, there is a 14-2 cable. I will probably see if I can't pull a 12-2 cable this evening so I don't have to have an additional junction box. - DONE

NW bedroom:
- The switch for the ceiling fan is near the switch for the NE bedroom in the same wall cavity a short 14-2 cable between the 2 boxes feeds power to the switch, then a double switch connects to a 14-3 cable run to the ceiling fan so the light and fan can be switched on/off from near the doorway. This done to code.
- East wall receptacle is inactive, as described in the NE bedroom. New 12-2 cable pulled on NW bedroom circuit. - DONE
- South wall receptacle is connected to a new 20A AFCI circuit dedicated for this room. The home run is new 12-2 cable, but that connects to 14-2 romex which I will need to replace. This is being used to run a low level light source my girls keep on at night. - DONE

So at this point, I've got the cables sized properly to all the circuits, so I'm ready to insulate my attic.

I decided to use an approach where each bedroom has 2 outlets, and each outlet has only 1 cable coming into it. This will allow me to add outlets later on by pulling the baseboard trim and running cable underneath.

I needed to put new boxes in the kids room on the shared wall because the old flex conduit cable goes from the attic into one box and then from that box to the other. Because of conduit going into the top and bottom of one box, it was impossible to remove the conduit from the box, so I had to abandon it in the wall and put in old work boxes. There is a fist sized section of plaster that fell away, it's behind the loft bed. I'll have to get back to that at a later time.
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