My Dad’s here helping me rewire the lighting in the house. I’ve had a little education in wiring but he’s helping me do it proper as opposed to, well, I wouldn’t think of doing it myself, so I guess he’s saving me the expense and hassle of hiring someone. Thanks Dad.
what we’ve done
- replaced the wiring and outlet upon which the fridge is operating (it was on knob and tube as well as being on the same circuit as all the house’s lighting). We placed it on its own breaker as well
- went into the attic, where we discovered that they vented the bathroom fan into the attic (a big no-no) and that they’ve insulated around the eaves (another no-no). We knew before that the roof joists were warping, but we didn’t know that there were a few gaps in the roof, boards obviously having broken when they were reshingling. We patched the holes already and will deal with venting, bracing and insulation when the electrical is done.
- knob and tube comes out from one breaker and forks off, like tree branches about the house. We figured out which branches affected which lighting, and we separated them (the kitchen, far and middle bedrooms and bathroom lights were on one, all the rest on the other). Eventually though, we realized that it didn’t matter where we separated them, we’re clipping all the K&T and replacing it.
- in the attic replacing the wiring, we also were replacing the light boxes, which required removing the old light boxes. The way the old boxes were placed was on hanging brackets nailed into the joists, under the plaster ceiling. Without completely marring the ceilings we used a reciprocating saw to cut them out. We also had to make most of the holes bigger to fit the new boxes, and do a bit of fancy work to get all the new hanging brackets in place.
- we dropped a string with a weight down the clear gap alongside the chimney from the attic to the basement and hoisted up the wire from there to the back bedroom. Then we fed some wire from the back BR to the bathroom, from the bathroom to the mid-BR, from the mid BR to the master BR, from the master to the hall light. Each of these also has a wire feeding to the switch.
- before we could feed to the switch we had to figure out where the switches were in relation to the light boxes (following the old wiring gave us a clue, but since K&T are clamped via porcelain holders within the walls, you can’t just pull the old wiring out and use the same path). New holes were drilled. We also had to remove the old boxes from the walls and replace them (it’s very difficult to fish new wire through an existing box, it’s easier to do when you have the box out of the wall). I realized that with plaster walls you have to make a big enough clearance space to pull the box out without touching or else it will catch and pull off big chunks of your wall (learned the same thing in replacing the light boxes).
- the hall lights, downstairs and upstairs, have a switch each downstairs and upstairs so you can control either from either floor. In replacing these we needed to buy some three-wire, as it requires an additional connection each. We also had to drill a big fist-sized hole into the dining room ceiling to find the path where the wiring for the hall lights goes. We did find it perfectly.
- we’ve taken, at this point, countless trips to Rona, Home Depot and Canadian Tire, as I didn’t have a stud finder, #2 square head bits or screwdrivers, wiring, face masks, coveralls, saw blades for the reciprocating saw, boxes, hangers, and a half dozen other things. Wiring, dad says, has gotten much more expensive because the price of copper has gone up.
- after the wiring, we need to do some plastering before we put the fixtures back up, and make the circuit live. We’ll have two circuits, one for upstairs, and one for downstairs. The living room, since it has an ornately textured ceiling, we’re not going to replace the ceiling light, so we’re going to figure out wall sconces instead. The front porch light we’ll need to figure out how to get up the wall from the outlet (since there’s insulation in the way) and outside to hanging bracket, since it’s finished and not easy access.
- when you’re dealing with wiring, you have a ground, a neutral and a hot, you need to know how these connect differently when doing lighting or outlets. A single outlets can have its receptacles wired together or individually, I’ve learned, depending on the power draw needed.