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What are all these wires in the attic?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by annette, Dec 4, 2009.

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  1. annette

    annette Member

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    I've been removing and replacing the old insulation in my mom's attic. The house was built in the 50s. There are wires running all over the attic, on top of the joists, and they look like speaker-wire. Was this some weird form of TV antenna at some period in time? That occurred to me today when I saw TV antenna wire laid out in an area of the attic. I guess someone could have run speakers into all the rooms of the house?

    Any thoughts?

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  2. pgmr

    pgmr Feeling the Heat

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    Could be speakers, intercom system, phone wires...you name it. I've even seen 120v ac being run through lamp cord up in attics.
  3. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    same here. and between walls. it awful what people will do to save a buck. don't cut any of those wires unless you are sure where it runs to.
  4. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Don't forget radio antenna.

    Matt
  5. 'bert

    'bert Minister of Fire

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    short wave radio antenna?
  6. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    FM. I've used speaker wire for them. It's much easier to string a wire along the wall behind a couch than to have a funky antenna sitting on the stereo. My father and grandfather had a single strand of probably 20 gauge copper strung from one end of he attic to the other.

    AM antennas are a loop, so I guess you could make a pretty easy AM antenna with a strand of wire also. If it was double stranded speaker wire you could just twist an end together to make a loop.

    I know absolutely nothing about shortwave so I couldn't comment on that.

    Matt
  7. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Shortwave wire can be anything.. old speaker wire, a coil of wire hung someplace, a random length of wire.
    I've known hams living with outdoor antenna restrictions that had wire dipoles hung in the attic.
    I suppose if the joists were the right spacing, and long enough, you could make some sort of stationary indoor beam antenna.
    Neat idea, but thats probably not what it is.

    Best to trace them and see where they go. Post pics?
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I betcha it was the old style antenna wire. It should have been flat, about 1/2" wide, pretty thin like 1/16" inch and you can feel the larger wires on each edge of the "tape". It is usually brown in color. Before they had coaxial cable they used that cheezy flat stuff. I had it strung all over my 1963 house in the attic and in the crawlspace. It must be cheap.

    Now I have a sturctured media center and 7 different home runs of coaxial RG-6u cable. Plus the cat5 phone lines to each cable outlet. My attic now has all kinds of crazy wires but at least they are modern.
  9. annette

    annette Member

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    The stuff that I recognized as TV antenna wire is what Highbeam described, while the mystery stuff is gold-ish wire in a clear jacket, maybe 1/8" diam total. I've worked around the wires just in case they're important. I'm about halfway through the attic, and the wires meet in a lovely tangle at the chimney in the attic's center with some TV antenna wire mixed in. This is a pretty small house (1000 ft^2) so it would be funny if it were for an intercom system or to run sound through the house--people talking or the TV are perfectly audible throughout the house, regardless of closed doors :)
  10. annette

    annette Member

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    I think I figured it out! There was an alarm system installed in or before the 80s, and I think these little wires were running from the door and window dealies and to the alarm box.
  11. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    You might have low voltage wiring for the light switches and Lights, very popular late fifties and early 60's. For those not familar each light fixture has its own relay with a 24v ac coil controlled by the wall switch or in some cases there is one panel with all the relays on it and the stepdown transformer. the relay contacts control the 110 voltage, gets especially interesting when you have more than one switch for a light.
  12. Hurricane

    Hurricane Minister of Fire

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    Alien antenna :)
  13. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    ran into that only once in the 20 years doing electrical. what a headache. ya 3 way switching was interesting.
  14. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Just saw my first one 2 weeks ago. Finding parts was interested! However it was easy to work on. Each was just a momentary switch, and if you wanted to turn it into a three way you basically just added another momentary switch in parallel.

    Neat concept, however i believe it was over complicating a simple solution.

    Smart houses are very neat to work on though.
  15. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    i must have run in to a home made job. relays all aver the house. some in the basement, some in the attic, and some in closets.
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Maybe they were Nazi spies.
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