Skip to main content

Adventures in wiring an old (very old) house

I'm an engineer. Let's just start there. I'm an engineer that has built out many datacenters. With thousands and thousands of wires. And lots of power. I realize most houses don't have the kinds of requirements data centers have where wires change from time to time.

That said, wow. The wiring in the new house is "special" to say the least. There are some bright spots - even though most of the outlets are two prong vs. 3 prong grounded, many have a consistent ground wired to the metal boxes. That means I can somewhat easily change out the outlets. Which is good as many (most) are so worn that they won't hold a plug.

I'm even more impressed (depressed) by the amount of telephone/alarm/fire alarm/intercom (!!) wiring that runs through the building. The basement (yay! I have a basement!) is an interesting rats-nest of wires. 

I was referred to an electrician by my real estate agent - who was in construction for a few years before transitioning to real estate. Oleg the Electrician (that's how he's listed in my contacts!) is going to be a long term partner in the evolution of this house. 

First things first: wiring for network. Yes, this is important. The original network was interesting at best. Nothing near sufficient for what I want. 

So we (oleg) pulled more than 2000 ft. of cat6 from the various rooms. I put the main cable modem in the basement (yay basement!) and installed a small rack with a firewall and a POE switch. This allows me to run security cameras off the switch or Access Points as needed. The house is so spread out, I knew I'd need more than one AP. 

Next we pulled a cable to the attic (yay attic - even a stand up attic!). This feeds yet another POE switch. As there were several telephone lines in existence, we just replaced those with the cat6 feeds where appropriate. Running the wires out to the family room proved an interesting challenge - there's a crawl space, but it's really kind of dicey. Most is really easy until the last few feet. There are all kinds of dead spaces where the original house meets the 1770 remodel, and where the 1770 remodel hits the 1970 remodel. 

The house was built mostly on ledge - which is Maine speak for "solid granite as far as the eye can see". This makes the house very stable, but limits where you can put things. I understand the dead spots, but it is certainly an interesting exercise figuring out where your wire snake went - 3 feet of snake just disappeared. Digging around a little and we find a blank vent about 10' tall and 3 ft deep. 

This made running the lines to the family room (great room? We can't figure out what to call it, but it's the giant room with the TV, so let's call it the family room) was challenging but after a few hours we were able to conquer the beast. Each line is over 150ft long. Oleg was impressed when I asked him to run 5 lines to the family room. There are reasons tho - I currently have my office (desk) in the family room as it's a bit isolated and I can work from home without disturbing the rest of the family. That setup takes 2 hardwired ports. Next I wanted two security cameras on the end looking out. I may add another to look into the woods just to see the animals at night. We'll see about that. In addition, I'm installing a really awesome little in-wall AP with 4 hardwired ports for the TV setup. This gives me great connectivity for my appleTV, ShieldTV and Alexa Cube. I've not quite decided which one is going to win out - possibly the shield as it has full support for all the codecs I typically use (eliminating transcoding)

As we go, I've asked Oleg to remove wiring where we can figure out what's on the other end. Needless to say, not much has been removed quite yet, but we have big plans!

To help things, I asked Oleg to install some lighting in the garage. It was previously illuminated by the lights in the garage door openers. That is really insufficient for my needs. So we put in about 4 x 4 ft LED lights and 3 x 8 ft lights. Still not quite enough, but it's way better. 

I'm not sure what's next but likely it's going to be wiring the security lights on the end of the family room - mostly so we can see the dogs when we let them out at night.

On to the next adventure in plumbing!


  1. You've shared such a beautiful collection with us. During this photograph, I appreciated the way you expressed your thoughts. Thank you for sharing your blog with us. and testing

  2. You have done a good job by publishing this article about.testing and tagging MelbourneI appreciate your efforts which you have put into this article, It is a beneficial article for us. Thanks for sharing such informative thoughts.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Nor'easter and Unpacking

The movers finally showed up. Scheduled for Saturday, I was happy they were delayed as we had a Nor'easter come through with rain/snow mix and strong winds. Of course, we lost power and internet as well.  What was a little disconcerting was the time it took to restore power. Lost power Friday night and didn't get restored until sometime Sunday afternoon. It got a little cold in the house as the pumps for the radiant heat are powered by electricity. Thankfully it wasn't a super cold front that moved through - high 20s and low 30s. Still it made me wonder why so much of the house is powered by electricity - the ovens, cooktop, pumps, etc. are all electric. We were quite happy when the power came back on so we could all warm up. Unfortunately the internet was still down. We didn't get restored until late Monday. Spectrum was not a great partner in the outage, listing status as "investigating" even when the service was restored. At least with comcast I was getting

Final move...

Well, I spent last weekend doing the final packing of the old house. We closed on Tuesday before thanksgiving and we're thrilled needless to say. It's been a lot of work packing up the old house, and I can only begin to imagine what will happen in the new house. I'm not saying I'm not going back to California someday, but at least for now, we're going to try something different. Of course, the day I left for California, a pipe burst out by the pool house. Luckily my son saw it and after a few hours, we were able to get some help to shut off the water to that pipe. Shutting it off meant we had to first shut off water to the house, which resulted in the main valve now having a leak. We'll see our new plumber Tuesday or Wednesday to sort things out.  The trials of an old house are endless, but frankly it's a bit fun when I'm home. When I'm not home, it's not so much fun.