Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Cut, pull, thread

The wiring saga continues.

Here's what I'm doing with the wiring, in short. There are two existing AC 12-gauge, 3-conductor lines running through the little "wall" under the shelf that goes around 3 walls of the sun room. One line was connected to the heaters, and one was for the AC outlets. I'm going to reuse them, and I'm also going to string new lines for the Computer Network (lol, how cool does that sound), cable TV coax (actually FIOS, not cable, but who's counting and it does use cable...) and phone.

The PO had a 30 amp line going to the AC outlets and a 20 amp line going to the heaters. Now, if you are like me and you know that baseboards draw Quite A Lot of Current, you will wonder why in the heck he did this - ain't it backward? Dontcha want the 30 amp circuit for the heaters?

I think so. After all, by my calculations, my two new heaters will draw about 18 amps. That's a little too close to 20 amps for my peace of mind. And I can't imagine we'll have a need for anywhere close to 20 amps on the AC line.

Why did, whatever.

Sooooo, part of what I'm-a-gonna do is reverse the lines around and use the former AC to be the heater circuit and vice-versa. I could have just swapped them in the circuit breaker box but that would be too much work.

Or something like that.

Fortunately, he used grey cable for one circuit and white for the other. This will make it easier to trace and switch out. I trim some of the old connections to a nicer tidier size and use wire nuts to hold the cut ends together. This is where the AC outlet wiring was - I connect it together to make one long run for the heater circuit. (Remember the AC is now heater and the heater is now AC).

(He says that about the grey and white being a way to tell them apart now, but just you wait).

I went through and cut a few rectangular access holes in the areas where the heaters will go so I can reach the existing cable and cut and label it as needed. The heaters will cover the holes. In a couple of places, I had to cut a little 'slit' also to reach in and snag cable. I glued the slit cut back in and will fill over it. Clever, eh? Ha.

I wrote up a sheet with the location of the AC outlets and the new spots for the cable, et al boxes. I'm going to just go through, pull the appropriate cable through the appropriate hole. There are 4 AC outlet spots (with a standard 2-outlet socket), one outlet for phone, cable and network, and one outlet for network and cable. There also will be another cable outlet under the stair between the sunroom entrance to the rest of the house. So there are a total of 7 places where we'll have an outlet of one sort of another. I sure hope a total of 8 outlets will be enough for a 160 square foot room ;-) .

This is a fairly straightforward process, except there is one spot where there is about a 3 foot run where I can't get to the cable. So I ask a friend of the female occupation for help. I am tinking her hands are a bit smaller so she might be able to reach in through the outlet hole and snag the cable.

Digression: In the Golden Era of American electronics, everything was hand-wired. And even the cheap stuff was still artistic in its layout. Assembled by skilled workers. Expensive stuff looked (and still looks) amazing. The people who built these things really cared about what they were doing. And, most of the assemblers/solderers/workers were women. Two reasons: one, their hands are smaller and more nimble (that ain't sexist, btw) and second (my opinion), they had more patience for detail work. Everytime I open up a fine old radio or amp, I am reminded of these things. Why don't we make stuff here any more? Can't we use our hands anymore?

So, my friend, in the Great Tradition of Women Building Tube Electronic Stuff, takes a stab at it. She can reach further in the hole, but can't quite get a grip on the cable in question. Then we find out the real reason women were on those assembly lines in the 30s, 40s and 50s.

She takes one look and says:

"I need something to fish this out with. Maybe a hanger or something."

Genius! Women have bigger brains than men! It would have taken me days to reach that conclusion. (I am serious).

We get de hanger, she makes de hook.

"This is too long, do you have something to cut it with?"

Well, my brain may not work as good as hers, but I do have what a lot of men have: a tool for the job (ahem). In this case, tin snips!

If you have ever tried to cut a coat hanger, you know it is One Tough Sucker. I've done it with hacksaws and even then it's an operation. So this time I had the idea of using snips. But even with my snips it took some effort. And made a big crack! noise when it cut through. Easier than a hacksaw though and a lot safer. Try starting a cut on a wire clothes hanger with a hacksaw and see what I mean.

After modifying the coat hanger, she fishes it into the hole and - voila! - snags the cable. Whoo hoo! Amazing.

You can also see the dreaded (and I do mean dreaded) styrofoam the PO used as "insulation" behind the panel. It caused me no end of grief. The jigsaw did not like making initial cuts into it - sometimes it would violently kick backward. The existing cable also got wedged between the wood and the styrofoam, making it hard to free up. The new cable did the same.

With regards to the styrofoam, why did, whatever. Ve moof forward, comrades.

Now, I will confess and admit that I did some research on styrofoam insulation. I realize it's common in construction and has good R (insulating) values. But a .75 inch sheet has an R value of 3.8, according to Dow. And I suspect what PO used is not the good stuff and these pieces are not 3/4 of an inch - they are 1/2". So I question how much insulation is provided by a 1 foot high by half and inch piece of insulation running for 20 feet around a sunroom with 80% of the walls being windows. Seems to me you'd want to up the insulation in the ceiling instead (which I will do). But what the heck do I know? The insulation is there, so this is really just a philosophical discussion I suppose.

Another surprise I encountered about halfway through. Remember how one circuit used grey cable and one used white? Ha ha. At some point, inside the wall, the grey ran out and both circuits used white all of a sudden. He musta ran out of grey. Geez. It wasn't hard to figure out, just another Little Annoyance.

Here's one image to give you an idea of the 'threading' process. This was the run of RG-6 coax (Quad shield! Great for digital! says the package) for the cable outlets. I just reeled off a bunch o'cable, started at one end near the door where the cable comes in from the basement and ran it through. There's one little 'slit' I had to cut here to be able to find the cable in the wall - because it got jammed into the stoopid styrofoam.

After labelling all the AC and heater cable and running the coax through, I have one task left. Well actually, a couple - I need to run the phone and the CAT5e (for the 'network') but I'm waiting till after I finish the floor tile.

The last task for now is to rip out that confounded speaker wire! Grab one end and it all comes out. Off to the trash with you I say!


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