X-ray Wiring Service?

bobb_2010April 2, 2010

So this is my first house, and there are wires tangling here and there. I ask the realtor, "where can I find out how the house is wired and point to a bundle (looks like home security wiring), "where is the other end of this, do I get that from the City?" And he goes "Nope, maybe there is a plan diagram when the house was built and they only keep it for 5 years(?)." FIVE YEARS! What, houses get demo after 5 years, there are no older houses around? Sometimes I feel the real estate market is just a bit guessing game.

Anywhoo, does any1 know if there's an X-ray service that will give me visuals how the interior of my walls look like? I know they are affordable portable X-ray machine now. It would help me route new wires wo removing an entired wall and any changes I want to make, as well as plumbing.

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Why do you care?

Figure out what the wires do and disconnect any you do not want/need.

You can chase wires sometimes with a fox & hound system.
It puts a small signal on the wires and then you can try and follow them with a detector.

Plumbing is about the same.

You do not need to remove lines to install new ones, just run new pipes as you want.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 8:43AM
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Nobody maps wires in a house. I have never heard of that being done.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 10:15AM
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Congrats on the first house.

It sounds like you may have a lot to learn about construction and home ownership. The best way to go about that is with a bit more of an open mind and a bit more humility. If people give you a quizzical look when you ask a question, it is quite possible that they aren't complete idiots and you just aren't asking the right question.

As for "tearing out walls" a 4x8 sheet of drywall runs about $6. If you are redoing bathrooms, kitchens etc where you are going to do any significant wiring or plumbing changes, it is almost always cheaper and faster to take a little drywall out.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 10:46AM
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Ron Natalie

I've never seen any permit office retain copies of the plans. We're required to keep the stamped ones on site until finals. Even then, it only tells you conceptually where the wires go, not where they actually are.

While contractors generally don't document it at such, smart people like myself, took pictures of every wall at rough in for such purposes.

Any electrician worth anything will have no problems running new wires or diagnosing existing circuits without such documentation.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:53AM
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"The best way to go about that is with a bit more of an open mind and a bit more humility"

I guess there is little choice on the matter, but it's still a crap shoot on my book.

Sure, u can figure out where the inlets and the outlets are ASSUMING EVERYTHING ALREADY WORKS? What if things are not working, wires is been cut - blah blah. U guys think I would be asking the question if this was an EASY PROBLEM?

Hey, maybe this could be a new business opportunity eh. Gitmme one of them portable x-ray thingy and advertise my service! :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 4:27PM
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There are certain bits of logic which an electrician knows and you, apparently do not.

If outlet A works and outlet B are three feet away from each other, there's a good chance there's a wire between them, and it probably doesn't go six feet up the wall, then two feet the wrong direction, then another foot down, then six feet to the left, then down to the height of the second outlet, and finally a foot sideways to it.

In other words, you (we) look at what's there and apply some common sense - and, provided the last guy did the same, we're right most of the time - without a picture.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 4:34PM
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"There are certain bits of logic which an electrician knows and you, apparently do not"

But of course. Look, if the economy was better, I leave u the key, u fix it, I go on vacation, come back, all done, unfortunately...

So nowadays, am forced learn as much as I can about my own house, because I can't afford to waste your valuable time. Once armed with the information, when u come in, I already know what I want u to do, understand what you are saying to me and it would very efficient for the both of us!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 2:38AM
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This is the point. You DO NOT need to know "what you want us to do". Other than of course telling us this and that and this do not work.
You provide symptoms, we use YEARS of experience and some simple tools (NOT x-ray machines HAHAHAHA!!) to diagnose the problem.

I understand you want to know exactly what wires go where, but as Joe said, this is simply NOT done on the average home. I also understand that you want to be a bit more educated about these things, which is fine, but please don't tell a skilled tradesman with years of experience what he should do or not do. If you do I hope for your sake you do not live in a small town.

I have to say, I really don't get the logic of buying a home in a poor economy and not leave enough money to fix serious problems with the mechanical systems. WHY do SO many folks do this. This is what makes a perfectly fixable home into a hacked up home.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 8:29AM
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There is industrial equipment available for x-raying things like walls and floors.

It is a real PITA to use since you must figure out how to stop the x-rays that continue past the imaging area, and then deal with developing the film.

The film needs to be at least as large as the area to be imaged since x-rays are actually more of a shadow technique than a camera image.

A fluoroscope screen could be used (and is in newer meedical x-ray equipment with a video camera aimed at the screen using a mirror to keep the camera out of the x-ray beam) but it will need to be large enough for the images desired, or be repositioned multiple times to create a composite image from multiple smaller images.

The x-ray spill must still be managed.
The older x-ray film holders used lead sheet behind the film to block the x-rays, and the x-rays collimated to barely cover the film holder.

In most cases there is no reason to find exactly were and what a problem is.
If the wiring between two receptacles is damaged it cannot be repaired but must be replaced.
A smple ohm meter can tell you if the cable is open, and then a new cable is run after disconnecting the old cable at each end.
There is no requirement to remove the old cable.
It is simply abandoned in place after being disconnected.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 11:51AM
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To the OP ...

What exactly are you trying to do? Any pictures? You are speaking in abstractions about a topic you know little about. If you ask a concrete question, you are bound to get more useful information. eg How do you add a new light to the kitchen? How do you elarge a door/create a passthrough etc?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 9:14AM
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Thanks brickeyee, at least that give me something to think about.

bill, if I know the subject THEN I wouldn't have to ask the question. BUT I do know what I want, KNOW WHAT IS INSIDE MY WALLS BEFORE TEARING IT APART. So I can tear on the proper spot and not tear the whole thing (time and $)

If I had a concrete request, "add a new light" I would just google and out pop the 50 hits. My question is obviously what you are not used to seeing. A big more challenging and fun eh.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 12:39PM
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OK, let's try this:
WHY do you want to tear apart the walls?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 2:55PM
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Go to the hardware store and buy a stud finder. Some models also detect active wiring. Once you know where the studs are, you'll know where to cut the drywall. cut along the center of the stud with a blade only about 3/8" deep or the depth of the drywall, avoiding nails. Remove the old panel and peruse the interior of the wall. Repeat as necessary.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 3:57PM
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You have to be one of the most pigheaded people I've encountered in a while. "Know what is behind the walls" is not what you hope to accomplish. That is a step you think is necessary to accomplish something else.

If you are doing a major remodel, rip out the drywall and look. It is the cheapest and easiest thing to fix. In the amount of time you have wasted looking for a high tech solution, you could already have your answer and patched and holes you made.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:34AM
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