Electrical Modifications

Mrs. B’s parents are here for the holiday, and Mrs. B’s dad likes to help us with projects, and he’s an electrician, and we have an old farmhouse, so we had some obvious projects lined up. The first one on the list was trying to figure out and fix the irregularly-functioning wiring in our kitchen. One outlet (out of three), the light above the sink, and the fume hood sometimes just don’t work.

Mrs. B’s dad observed it not working. So he pulled the outlet out of the wall, and then it all started working. We plugged in a hair dryer and a waffle iron, trying to get something to happen, but no dice. He said, “Well, I’m glad I’m looking at this” or something to that effect, as if to say that there wasn’t a problem.

After lunch, we went up in the attic and looked at this one junction box on the far wall. Mrs. B’s dad opened it up and suggested that we split it up. He counted 8 wires going into the one junction box. I pointed out two more (knob and tube) coming out the bottom. OK.

First, we ran a new circuit up for some outlets that we could plug a light into. Then, Mrs. B’s dad pulled apart one of the wire nuts, and almost all the lights in the house blinked out. One by one, he pulled them apart and split the one circuit into three — our new one, another new one, and the existing one. While the power was out, I went around the house and checked out what was off: all the interior light fixtures downstairs (except in the bonus room), the microwave in the kitchen (I think), and all the light fixtures upstairs. Notably functioning were most of the wall outlets (upstairs and down) and the porch light.

Looking in the electrical box later, I saw that one breaker was labelled “BACK ROOM” and one labelled “FRONT ROOM”. I assume “BACK ROOM” applied to the bonus room (as expected), and “FRONT ROOM” must have been shorthand for “that which is not the BACK ROOM”.

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