Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Subject: Recessed Lighting-Confusing Wiring

Name: Sam

Question: Hi Bill,

I am trying to replace a standard ceiling light with an recessed halogen light in my basement. Since the house is old, the wiring doesn't seem to have a color code or is not recognizable, except for (maybe) a black and white. The problem is that I have six wires and don’t remember how they were connected originally(my mistake)! I apparently have connected them incorrectly since I keep tripping the breakers to that area of the basement and not getting electricity. Would you have any suggestion? Help!

Thank you,


Answer: Hi Sam,

It looks like you opened up a can of worm. Thank you for the picture. It really tells me a lot. It looks like you have 1950's BX wire tied on to some Knob and Tube. This wire makes me nervous. It looks frail and brittle. I don't think you should touch it. It should really be evaluated by an expert. You may have wire every thing correctly but the cloth wire could have cracked in the metal case. I own an apartment building in the University city section of Philadelphia. I found an old metal BX circuit just like the one in your picture that was burning up because the cloth cracked inside the metal jacket. Since that time I always recommend replacing that type of wire.

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