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  1. #1
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    Tucson, AZ, USA.
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    Rewiring a home??

    Can I do it?? Talk about a loaded question!! With the news of the baby on the way I started to reworry about the wiring in my home. A little background...

    Home was built in the late 1950's. Wiring is original 2 wire with some tar type paper wrapped around the leads. It has seen a fair share of "add ons" that in my opinion were done by a blind electrician. The circuits are in horrible shape! I have found a box with some 10 leads all wire nutted together!! and another box with a melted nut connecting 2 20 amp leads together. Not good at all. We don't have the money to pay a contractor to come through and fix it all. I did install a 100 amp sub for the shop and passed all inspections with flying colors. Guess what I'm trying to say is that I can run wire and have some smarts of basic wiring.

    The details... The service starts at the meter with 250 amps. The Main is in great shape - installed roughly 10 years ago. This has a few circuits in it for the new wiring done in the mid 90's (only 1 room and the newer AC), none of which I'm concerned with. It also has a 100 amp set of breakers for my shop (which I installed), a 50 amp set of breakers for the AC, and a 60 amp set of breakers for the dreaded original panel inside the home. This 60 amp service is what I'd be dealing with. The leads run from the main to an OLD original 60 amp panel in our hall closet. This panel services the homes lighting and outlets, and the evap cooler - thatís it. I have ZERO faith that the 1957 breakers will trip if needed to do so. What I'd like to do is rewire the old leads throughout the home and install new breakers back at in the newer main panel. I have just enough slots to do that and can ideally get rid of the old sub in the closet. I would not be messing with the 50 amp Air Conditioning line or the Kitchen GFCI lines. I would be running new lines to each of the bedrooms, one for the living room, and 2 GFCI lines (one for each bathroom).

    Whudya all think?? Am I nutz?? The wiring would be done in the winter when the attic is bearable. The home is a brick house with plaster walls - making fishing a REAL pain (the plaster is installed over some form of cement board with round holes all over it). The good news is that there is no insulation between the interior walls.


  2. #2
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    Feb 2005
    Location
    Ayer, MA, US.
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    510

    RE: Rewiring a home??

    I'd say your getting into a little bit more then most people could handle in a reasonable amount of time. If the older wire hasn't been cut/spliced I'd recomend against touching it. It's worked fine for the past 50 years it'll continue to do so. I'd just pull apart the old panel move everything into the new one. Make sure all the visible wiring(basement)looks safe. Replacing all the old wireing is just costly and dosn't do anything for you value-wise. Unless you feel its reasonalbe for the peice of mind. My opion is thats what housing insurance is for)

  3. #3
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    Oct 2005
    Location
    Bradford, Vermont.
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    19

    RE: Rewiring a home??

    I think I would have to agree with the homeDepotGuy, that is unless you have aluminum wiring. If it is aluminum, your best bet is to replace it. I believe aluminum was installed during the second world war and shortly after. However, if it's not and is in the walls and can carry the juice you need it to, leave it alone. I think rewirng all to one box is a great idea as long as you can do it effeciently.

    Good luck

    moose

  4. #4
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    RE: Rewiring a home??

    Super,

    For someone like you know knows what he's doing, yes, tackle it yourself. I remember what you did in your shop and it was good.

    What you can do is run temp circuits into areas that you will disconnect in the panel. Do this with 3 wire 12 guage rubber covered with a 1900 box on one end with 2 duplex outlets and cover and the other end to the panel.

    This is only for a temp while you kill each circuit in the panel and run it new, with new boxes. You already know how to do this and you'll have some sheetrock repairs along the way.

    Do this one circuit at a time until all of the old circuits are gone.

    You don't have to remove all of the old wireing, just cut it back at the panel to where it cannot reach it again.

    Yup, a nice project.

    Howard

  5. #5

    RE: Rewiring a home??

    Ry,

    Sounds like you have a mismash of all sorts of stuff. The old insulation gets dry rotted and almost simply falls off the wires. Maybe even some old cloth insulation in there.

    Aluminum wire I beleive is a 60's thing. Definately wanna get rid of that stuff too.

    Sounds like you have the ability. Like Howard said, do it one circuit at a time, and make improvements as you go. 12-3 romex is good, insulated staples to hold it in place, and use 20 amp switches and recepticles. It would be a shame to use 12-3 wire and then install 15 amp recepticles and switches.

    You don't have to completely remove the wires, but when I do a jobe like that, I try to remove as much as possible. I also wirenut and tape the ends I cannot remove, then tuch them into the wall. That way, if there is any chance at all that the wires become live again, they will not arc and start a fire. WAY over kill, but - beter safe that sorry.

    No you're not nuts - just ambitious!!

  6. #6
    Member
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    Dec 1969
    Location
    Bradford, Vermont, MerryCanna.
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    18,751

    RE: Rewiring a home??

    I'm gonna' vote for taking it on, too. I'd leave the old copper there, but cut off the ends. I'd work one room (or circuit) at a time, starting AT THE LOAD and working back toward the panel - with the breaker going in last thing for each circuit.

    I think you can do it... but it's best to think of it as a series of small jobs instead of one big job. Like most things in life, it breaks down easily that way & doesn't feel overwhelming. Seen as a series of small jobs, it looks a TON easier.

    -- Tim --



    The more I know
    The more I learn,
    And the more I learn
    The more I know
    I have yet to learn.
    Don't wait up,
    I'll be a while.


  7. #7

    RE: Rewiring a home??

    Hmmm, I'll share my experience with "rewiring" a house.

    My current house was built in the late 70's. I bought it and the land for a song because it was vandalized. Anywhere the wire in the attic could be reached it was CUT...yes, all the wiring in the house was cut from the attic. Every breaker in the breaker box was CUT OUT! ALL OF IT, even the copper tubing from the evaporator unit. I knew this before buying the house thinking (rewiring, no big deal) WELLLLLLLLLLLLLL...lemme tell ya.

    First off, knowing your house was built in the 50's may make a HUGE difference and easier...but in my case... HOLY #%#%!

    My logic was this... Splice the new wire to the cut wire and PULL it through the walls.Let's not forget it has an upstairs area (yeah, all the wire to the upstairs bedrooms and bath were cut as well). Anyway...sounds like a great idea huh? just splice the wires together...put some black tape around the slice and pull it through.....WRONG...WRONG WRONG..
    Two problems...
    #1 EVER wire had a WIRE STAPLE 10" from the boxes.
    YES EVERY WIRE! you might not have this problem, but I did. It's building code. So that killed that idea. Was no way in hell I was gonna be able to pull the wire through. so okay..no biggie... I'll just fish it through, ya know, with a plumbers tape?..fish tape?

    WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!! EVERY wall had INSULATION in them. No, not just the exterior walls EVERY WALL! all the interior walls!
    WHY?!?! you ask? It was there as a SOUND barrier! Have you ever tired pushing a plumbers tape THROUGH insulation?

    So what I ended up having to do was CUT a hole at the ceiling above EVERY light switch and outlet, and another hole about 10" above every light switch and outlet to remove the old wire and replace it with the new. Thing about how many outlets and light switches are in a 2000+ square foot home...times that by 2 and that's how many holes I had to patch!

    The upstairs...OH MAN! don't even ask.

    So, if you want to replace the wiring yourself..make sure there are NO wire staples, and NO insulation. Of course the exterior walls will have insulation. If you don't have these two things, it should be easier. Be prepared for drywall work (if there is drywall). If it's plaster work with the thin strips of wood behind that....

    What I'm saying is, make sure you know what you are stepping off into before taking that step. Of course doing it yourself should save tons of money, just be prepared for the worse and hope it's a cake walk. I wasn't prepared for what I got when I rewired mine.




    "I just don't understand...
    I've cut it three times and it's still too short!"

    [link:www.mgsawmill.com|M&G Sawmill]. Makers of the finest sawdust in Texas. Oh, did I mention we have hardwood as well?


  8. #8
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    Dec 2002
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    Tucson, AZ, USA.
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    RE: Rewiring a home??

    Thanks all. A bit more info (more just my concerns). I am alos worried that when it comes time to sell, an insector might notice that all the new outlets (showing a ground - installed before we moved in) are infact unprotected. Not sure if that would be somehting we would have to pay to have replaced later... Just a concern - the bigger one is obviously the safety of the family.

    I know from previous work on the house that the old wiring is copper with tar and paper wrapping and a cloth outer skin. There is infact staped above the boxes but no insulation on the interior walls.

    My plan was to try and knock out one bedroom a weekend (or so). My biggest concern is dealing with fishing hte wires and waht to do with the old boxes that are nailed to the studs. I'm not sure how I can fish a wire into the old box - so I figured I would have to remove em. Is there some trick I'm missing here??

    Just to add: The home does have a useable crawl space - much like a 1/2 attic.

  9. #9
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    Bradford, Vermont, MerryCanna.
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    RE: Rewiring a home??

    Fishing wires... not quite as hard as it looks, but you GOTTA' have help unless you really enjoy sweating.

    What'cha' do is cut a hunk (might as well make it about 10') off the end of your fishtape. Bend a loop (NOT A HOOK!!!!) into the end, start it at one point in the wall, and meet it with the new fresh end of the fishtape that's still on the spool - also with a loop on its end.

    So, say you're pulling wire from the basement to a switchbox. You drill into the bottom of the wall from below, stick one looped fishtape UP into the wall cavity, then stick the spooled looped fishtape down through the box into the same wall cavity. When you're sure they've passed each other, twist 'em both. Their loose ends'll whip around inside the wall & eventually tangle on each other.

    STOP as SOON as they tangle. Don't make it any worse. Now pull the spool end back up through the box. With it should come the looped end of your short fishtape (it may take a little jockeying). Now you have nothin' but fishtape inside the wall, with one end stickin' out each way. NOW you can attach wire to that tape (we're talkin' the short one here) and pull it through.

    Once in a long while (I've done it, but it sure wants a lot of patience) you can look down through the switchbox and see the light shining through the hole you just drilled in the sill plate. You can (if you're PATIENT and PERSISTENT) poke and poke and poke and poke with a fishtape until you actually HIT that drilled hole from inside the switchbox. Then again you have the one length of fishtape inside the wall... and you can pull wire through.

    Try not to set goals like "I'll get that room one weekend, the next room next weekend". It'll frustrate you if you can't make the goal. Do a "I'll get that room as quick as I reasonably can, then I'll do the next room... and if I run into something that calls for parts I'll maybe move on & do as much as I can in the next room while I'm waiting for another bag of wirenuts".

    -- Tim --



    The more I know
    The more I learn,
    And the more I learn
    The more I know
    I have yet to learn.
    Don't wait up,
    I'll be a while.


  10. #10
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    Tucson, AZ, USA.
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    RE: Rewiring a home??

    Simply AMAZING - that fishtape idea is GREAT - THANKS TIM!!! I've been wrestling around with this delima FOREVER! Unfortuantely I don't have a basement - everythign has to come from above. But that ill still be the way to go (just a bit more tape to run) - thanks again!

    I still have to figure what to do with the exterior walls. One of those outlets could take me a weekend or more. The exterior walls are brick with what apears to be plaster or cement smacked right onto em inside the home. I have little faith that I will be able to use the old wire as a fish line to pull new 3 wire romex. That leaves me with using a cement blade on my circ saw to cut a groove into the wall up to the crawl space (if I decide to do that :(). How to electricians run new lines in such an application??

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