Count down to wiring

I’ve tracked down most of the parts needed to start the second floor wiring, but I haven’t quite summoned the conviction to start. Part of the problem is the fear of the unknown. I have a pretty detailed plan, and I’ve done most wiring tasks before, but never quite this “from scratch”. Over-planning is my specialty. The other problem is the weather. To start wiring I’m going to have to pull the plastic off our ceiling, and that plastic is the only thing standing between our indoor air and a very effective ridge vent. It may not be freezing outside right now, but it’s still colder than I’d prefer for my bedroom temperature.

I have lots of books on wiring, and the internet can be a useful resource too, but one of my best points of reference is simply to look at the existing wiring in our house, and not do anything like that!

Okay, just kidding.

But seriously, let’s play “code check” with a few pictures from our woodshed. Don’t worry. All of this wiring has been disconnected since a couple weeks after we bought the house.

Case 1

This wiring junction hangs from the ceiling as you enter the shed. It’s not protected by a junction box, like it should be. It doesn’t use wire nuts. It has an exposed common wire (which can still electrocute you when the circuit is active). It also has no ground wire anywhere (which has been required since the 60s). That metal box on the left .. ungrounded.

Case 2

This light fixture dangles directly from the wire that powers it. I have no idea how someone thought this was a good idea. There’s no box to support the light or protect the wire junction. The wires are strung across the ceiling joists “closeline style”, which is against code. They are also less than 8′ off the ground, and thus should have conduit protection. That white spot … that would be a hole in the roof.

Case 3

Look, more wire junctions outside a box! Also, the actual electrical box has no face plate (which protects you from the energized bare screws on the sides of the outlet). Like before, this is ungrounded wire. It’s also not protected by GFCI … in a shed .. with dirt floors .. and a leaking roof!

Case 4

Outside this wall is a motion light. I guess they didn’t want to buy a fixture box, so they just drilled a hole in the wall, screwed the fixture on the outside and threaded the wires through the hole. Another unprotected junction.

There are so many ways to kill yourself in this shed if those wires were still hot. The former residents must really not have liked their kids. The sad thing is that all this work was done somewhat recently, at least since 1984, as it uses NM-B cable (which became available then).

Fortunately, nobody was killed by the shed, and if it had burned down, it’s not like we’d be losing a historical treasure:

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7 Responses to Count down to wiring

  1. Scott says:

    I thought the previous owners of our place hacked the wiring. A few circuits with copper and aluminum mixed, a few junction boxes with no covers, multiple wires under terminals and some other misc faults. Nothing compared to this! Good luck! ­čÖé

  2. Faith says:

    Can this shed be saved…..? LOL This will be a fun project and very satisfying when done!


  3. Benita says:

    Yikes! I’m surprised no one got zapped.

  4. Leigh says:

    Good grief. We’ve run across quite a bit of sloppy wiring in some of the places we’ve lived, but never that bad!

    I can so relate to that feeling of trepidation before actually jumping in to a big new project. We’ve stalled on quite a few things here for that very reason!

  5. lee says:

    Scott – Yeah, I’ve seen some pretty scary stuff in this house. Thankfully it’s all turned off, and as we work on walls we cut out all the old wiring. There won’t be an inch of original wire when we are done with the place. Looks like you’ve got a feel for that sort of large scale renovation work too.

    Faith – I’m afraid the shed can’t be saved. Originally I had hoped to, but it’s not built on a foundation. It’s rotting from the ground up and from the roof down. It has very little structure left, let alone of the state of the wiring. Anything we try to store in it rusts, so now it’s just a storage space for recyclables.

    Benita – Me too! I would be terrified to have a building like that on my property least somebody get hurt.

    Leigh – The original fuse box is the most fun. It’s three separate boxes, strung together with a rats nest of wiring and a bunch of big balls of electrical tape holding some wiring junctions together.

    Glad to hear the uncertainty stalling is not just me. Once I’ve done something before it always seems much easier to repeat a project elsewhere.

  6. Phoebe says:

    I agree with Leigh, It is hard to get started on a project like that. In fact I have a pile of electrical supplies exactly like yours sitting in the middle of the floor. I thought it would help me to get started, piling them there, but instead I have just gotten used to seeing the pile and walk around it ­čÖé

    We have insane wiring like yours (the well house! OMG) only I can’t carry on about it because it was all my own ancestors who did it. One can say “what idiot did this?” or “My Grandpa did this” but I can’t bring myself to say “My idiot Grandpa did this!” I just thank my lucky stars that no one electrocuted themselves or I might not have been born.

  7. lee says:

    Phoebe – Yup, still walking around the electrical parts pile here. Maybe not much longer though. Maybe.

    Hmm, you are right that ancestral homes present a problem when it comes to complaining about the workmanship. I had never thought of that!

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