Sunday, August 25, 2013
Two Steps Back
When they put in the new furnace ductwork, the installers found a live knob-and-tube wire hooked up to one of the junction boxes in the basement ceiling. Now, I can take a little older wiring in my house, but knob-and-tube scares me. Especially when the insulation around the wires cracks off in your hands when you touch it.
So, this weekend, Joe and I found the right circuit breaker, flipped it off, and disconnected the wire. Then, we went upstairs to find out what was tied to the wire. Turns out that ALL the upstairs lights and all but two of the outlets were all tied to that wire. Surprise, surprise. We thought those outlets were properly grounded. We were wrong.
We left it all unhooked - this way I won't be up half the night worrying about fires starting.
One of the parts that makes me angry (there are several) is that I trusted the home inspector when I bought the house instead of checking the wiring myself. I'd heard so much about the hidden dangers of houses that I thought I'd go the professional route instead of just relying on what Joe and I would be able to find. Silly me.
When we had the inspection done, I specifically told the inspector to check the wiring carefully. I'd had my fill of replacing wires in old houses in my last place, and didn't want to deal with the mess again. He gave the wiring a clear pass.
Obviously, he didn't take a flashlight to the new junction boxes tucked away in the basement ceiling. If he had, he'd have seen the new wires going into the box, and the cloth-bound wires coming out. And, if he'd closely checked the outlets upstairs, he'd have seen that they attached a new snippet of wire to the outlet, so it looked good, and attached the new wire to the old cloth-bound at the back of the box.
As mad as I am at the incompetent inspector, I'm even madder at the unprincipled person who did the hack job on the wiring. Obviously, those who did the work didn't care at all for the safety of the people who would be living in the house after they finished their chicanery.
And as mad as I am at myself for not catching this mess before I bought the house, I'd rather it was I who ended up with it than someone who wouldn't know bad wiring when it stared them in the face.
My friend Max once said that if you can fix something by throwing money at it, it isn't a problem. I can fix the wiring by throwing money at it, thus, I do not have a problem. I have a mess on my hands, yes. But I do not have a problem.
The bungling inspector, the unethical sellers who had to have known about the issue, the unscrupulous guy who did the wiring - now those people have problems. I'm glad I'm not them.