This Old House, Glaser Edition

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Power to the People!

Ugly Gash Needed to Replace Knob and Tube Wiring
School started this week in the Glaser household! Tammy was knee-deep in Algebra I, Biology complete with microscope and dissection kits, and other high school subjects, which left little time for blogging.

The first week we owned the house, we discovered it still ran power through old cloth wires, knob and tube style, which was state of the art--100 years ago. Our electrician works a regular full-time job and freelances on weekends, which is why we have not covered this topic in detail. Last Sunday, our electrician and his brother removed all the old wiring in the house. Upstairs had three spots--a bare bulb hanging in the bathroom, a fixture in the master bedroom closet, and a switch controlling a faux tiffany lamp at the bottom of the stairs. Downstairs had three spots: the combination light and ceiling fans in the living room, Steve's office, and Pamela's bedroom.

Spot in Upstairs Hall Closet with Hole for Tiffany LampSpot in Wooden Ceiling for Downstairs Faux Tiffany Lamp

Some spots were harder and others were a snap. The wiring in the master bathroom and closet was simple because it drops from the attic. Major surgery is not required for anything dropped from the attic. The rooms downstairs literally required surgery as Tammy's brother had to slice a one-inch line from the fixture to the wall, down the wall too the switch. The trickiest maneuver was the tiffany lamp because the electrician thought he would have to cut into the wood ceiling. After doing extensive measuring (running upstairs and downstairs to do so), he located a small spot in the upstairs hall closet through which he could drill a hole. Tammy, with advanced degrees in mathematics, was thoroughly impressed for he hit the target perfectly. This allowed him to run the wire down from the attic, through the hall closet wall, and to the tiffany lamp. Later in the week, Tammy's brother covered the area with sheetrock, hiding all traces of the wire.

Switches for Hanging LampsCrawl Space to the Roof of the Front PorchSteve and Tammy also asked the electrician to install three hanging lamps along the porch. When they saw what lay beneath the vinyl siding, they were glad somebody had already sprung for the siding. Tammy's brother cut a hole out of the plaster in Steve's office that leads to a crawl space above the front porch. The electrician's brother, a National Guard reservist who has served a deployment in Iraq, is used to working in hot conditions and volunteered for the mission of running the wires through the crawl space. When the lamps arrive and are installed, we will post photographs.

The old wiring was in sad shape, and we are glad we forked out the money to replace it. Steve said bare wire showed in many spots and the cloth covering was quickly deteriorating. Just touching it caused pieces to loosen.


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