Archive for March 24th, 2005


Thursday, March 24th, 2005

It took the three of us a total of six days, but the basement, and a good chunk of the first floor are now rewired. We pulled out *all* the old wiring in the basement and installed almost 300 feet of new (EMT) conduit. Despite my getting a horrible cold the second day in, we’re done.

We now have 5 new circuits:

  • Circuit 1 (20A): Rear basement lighting, plus two outlets
  • Circuit 2 (20A): Front basement lighting, plus 4 shop outlets
  • Circuit 3 (20A): 4 outlets in the shop
  • Circuit 4 (15A): Everything on the first floor that used to be on the basement circuit, including the sun room, living room outlets, the foyer, the front porch, and the second floor hallway.
  • Circuit 5 (15A): The sunroom, the backyard outside outlets, and the garage.

Other highlights:

  • The original house wiring is actually in pretty good shape, but it was the hundreds of feet of armored cable that took a lot of work.
  • We put the dining room sconces on the dining room circuit instead of the basement circuit.
  • The old circuit box, which was a total mess, is now half-empty.
  • We found a box almost completely buried in the original wall of the basement. Tsk tsk. (That’s the “before/during/after” picture).
  • The old basement breaker has been completely disconnected.
  • The blank plate in the side of the stairs in the foyer, which housed an empty electrical box that was hooked to nothing, is now the proud home of a brand new 20A socket.
  • The outlet in the dining room, which housed a loosely attached non-functioning outlet with a huge burn mark on one of the grounding holes, has been replaced.
  • We had to demolish a *lot* of stuff: The old basement bathroom ceiling, part of the cinderblock wall in a few places, bits of the original plaster wall in other places. Messy, messy, messy, but I can’t wait to get rid of the rest of the cinderblock.
  • We made a total of nine trips to the Home Depot and the electrical supply house.

Some things that I learned:

  • Always remove the hot wire before the neutral, and connect the neutral before the hot. The neutral wire is your friend.
  • After you throw the breaker, it really pays to make absolutely certain that every wire in the box that you’re working on is dead, or you might wind up dead yourself. One of those pen current detectors (that works right through the insulation) is an invaluable tool.
  • 12 gauge stranded wire is a lot easier to work with than 12 gauge solid wire.
  • When the previous electrician doesn’t tape around the sides of a light switch, you get a lot of sparks when it touches the side of the box as you pull it out.
  • Taping around the sides of light switches and outlets is The Right Thing To Do.
  • Making complex bends in electrical conduit is a pain in the ass.
  • The Gold-Fish is the coolest fish tape ever.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, use a bigger wire nut.
  • Electrical work isn’t as scary as I thought it was, but having patience, taking your time, and having a healthy fear of it don’t hurt.
  • When in doubt, use your multimeter.