Wiring woes

As you saw yesterday, work on the basement continues. In the meantime, I’m going back a few weeks to talk about some of the problems we encountered with the electrical.

Burnt junction box

Fried junction box in the basement ceiling. In case you were wondering, no, the inside should not be black like that.

We ended up discovering a total of 10 junction boxes in the basement ceiling, hidden behind the drywall. This is a big no-no. Junction boxes themselves are okay. But covering them over with drywall is not. You’re supposed to put a cover on them so that they are accessible.

The conversation during demo went something like this:

“I found another one.”
“Seriously? Crap!”
“Do you want to just pull the whole ceiling down?”
“We probably should. Who knows how many there are up there.”

One of my goals in hiring a professional electrician was to eliminate as many junction boxes as possible, because I didn’t want the covers polka-dotting our nice new ceiling. In the end, our electrician was able to get rid of all but two–much better than I’d hoped for.

The other unsettling moment during demo was when we’d open a wall or part of the ceiling and find a loose wire. The ends were usually cut. They weren’t capped or taped at all, and we had no idea where they went and whether or not they were live.

This was the moment when Matt would reach for his tester and point it at the offending wire. If the tester chirped, that meant the wire was live. It turned out that most of the wires were dead, completely disconnected at both ends. No one had ever bothered to remove them, so they just sat there behind the drywall waiting to scare future renovators.

Matt made it his mission to eliminate all of this useless wiring, and he spent a lot of time tracing wires through the ceiling and along the walls so that he could pull them out.

Pile of old electrical wires

Pile of some of the old wires Matt pulled out in the basement.

We did as much of the wiring work ourselves as we could, but having the help of a skilled professional was absolutely necessary for fixing all of the problems. Electrical is not always straight-forward, and it can be dangerous if it’s not right.

I’m all about DIY, but only if I know what I’m doing. Thanks to our electrician, all of the problems have been fixed, the panel is organized and labelled, circuits have been tidied up and new outlets and lights have been added where we wanted them. Most important of all it’s done right and it’s safe.

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5 thoughts on “Wiring woes

  1. wow that was really ugly. I am glad you found the junction boxes. I hate to say this but if they were in your ceilings, I have to wonder if you have messed up wires in your wall as well. Good luck.

    • Fortunately, we opened most of the walls so that we could upgrade the insulation, so we were able to fix wiring issues at the same time. I’m sure there’s still more, but I at least feel a bit safer. Thanks for your comment, City Girl!.

      • That’s great. I am opening walls right now and I am holding my breath on every wall scared of what I might find. So far, thank goodness, no surprises yet.

  2. Did it not make your heart sink with very new discovery? I think its so horrible and irresponsible when people cut corners like that. My husband got a “little” zap a while ago after drilling into a wall and hitting a hidden junction box. Great job on the rewiring, though!

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