Adventures in Electricity
Mom lives in an old (1903) house. It's been partially rewired through the years, but it's still not sufficient in most areas to support today's modern electrical demands.
Case in point, her office.
Running the computer and air conditioner at the same time was impossible. When the AC would kick on, it would draw enough power to make the computer think there was a power failure.
Plus, when I went to put the AC in the window earlier this year, I discovered that even though it's a small unit, it was drawing so much power that it partially melted the plug. Why there wasn't a fire, I don't know.
I knew the only solution would be to run a new, dedicated line from the box in the basement to Mom's office.
And I knew that it would be a pain in the rear to do so.
I came up Thursday night, and was able to get started on the project Friday afternoon after we ran the dogs to the vet and did some other things.
To say that Mom's office was hot is putting it mildly. EXPLOSIVE is more like it.
Mom's office is over the kitchen, which has a drop ceiling (important).
Three of the walls are exterior walls. No running romex down through the walls in the exterior walls because there's not nearly enough room between the exterior brick and the plaster and lath.
The fourth wall is interior, but it's covered in very large, very loaded, bookcases.
So, game plan.
1. Drill a hole in the floor of Mom's office where I want to pull the electric.
2. Drill a similar hole through the old ceiling in the kitchen and use the space between the drop ceiling and the plaster and lath ceiling to run the romex.
3. Drill another hole into the interior wall, which would take me down to the basement.
4. Drill a hole in the floor plate.
5. Snake the wire from the basement up to the hole in the kitchen ceiling.
That step alone took almost 4 hours. The wire kept getting stuck on the plaster keys in the wall pocket.
The fact that I was running 12/2 Romex didn't help. That stuff is incredibly stiff.
6. Finally get the wire out of the basement. Run it up through the holes into Mom's office.
7. Go to Mom's office, slip a piece of flexible protective conduit over it and down into the kitchen ceiling.
8. Attach the box to the condiut and attach both to the wall.
9. Wire in the new dedicated 20 amp, two gang socket.
Head down to the basement. Drill passage holes in 6 100-year-old, hard as frigging iron American chestnut joists.
Pull wire through holes and back to the electrical box sub panel.
The main panel is quite interesting. There are 5 pull blocks, each one with barrel fuses, that serve as disconnects. There are also IIRC 10 edison base fuses that control other individual circuits.
Over the years things have been rewired and reworked such that it's hard to tell what's what.
Try to figure out which pull block sends power to the sub panel, because not a damned thing is labeled correctly anymore.
Pull what appears to be the correct block.
Gingerly take the cover off the electrical panel and test the living hell out of everything to make sure that I don't have a sneak circuit anywhere that's still feeding power to the box.
Pull the wires into the box, make the connections, and insert the breaker.
Cross fingers and put main pull block back in.
Head upstairs to check the power in the new outlet. Reading perfect 115 volts on the meter, the outlet checker says that I have the hot, neutral, and grounds correctly configured.
Head back downstairs to put the cover back on the electrical panel.
Unpack the new air conditioner and install it in the window in Mom's office.
Bask in its loving coolness.
Take a handful of ibuprofen because every muscle in my body is screaming and crawl into a shower to get the dust, dirt, and sweat off me.
That whole process took me probably 12 hours to accomplish. I was going slowly, but I was able to get it done without 5 additional trips to the hardware store for stuff that I forgot.
This is the first electrical circuit I've ever run in an old house, and it went pretty much as I had it all planned out in my mind.
To say the least, I'm kind of shocked, but I am very, very happy, and have a serious case of smug going on right now.