The house I'm talking about - the home of my late grandparents - is well over 100 years old... and the electrical installation seems not much newer... parts of it were still done with "wires" that had fabric insulation. The "ground" was only available where newer plugs were in the walls... i.e. half of the house didn't have it at all. Oh, and the *entire* thing was hanging on one circuit. Needless to say, I couldn't sleep well with something *that* much off code and had to do something about it.
Since the building isn't that good anymore, I decided to just bolt some conduits onto the wall to run the new wiring through. I wasn't going to try and get them into the wall for fear of "bringing down the house" in the process. Only when the wiring crossed over from one room to the next I used the existing "conduits" - which are for the most part paper rolls with tar - at least that's what it looks like.
When I buzzed around the house, trying to find out where all the connections are, I found out just how "creative" the wires were put into place. Essentially there were three-phase-fuses for "water pump" and "high power outlet" (i.e. 400V plug) and there were two fuses for "everything else". It turns out that it's just one circuit with fuses in both the neutral and the phase... yikes!
Not to mention, that the wires in the wall had all colors... it seems that they used whatever color was left. Three purple wires in one conduit is the record. Bonus: none of which was ground. It took almost as much time figuring out what was going on as it did to set up the new ligts, plugs and switches.
Today was the day that I finally started the final phase: turn off the power, remove all the old fuses, pull in the last bits of wires and the new fusebox. For some reason though, somebody decided to put the ground fault switch in BEFORE the power meter... which is why I had to - umm - connect my new box in a not-so-shiny way by running all four wires right across the back panel of the old cupboard.
To ease things up a bit, I also decided to NOT connect several unused parts of the building: the cellar (bulb burned out years ago anyhow) and an older secondary bedroom (which is dripping water from the walls) as well as the high-power outlets in the back of the building. Saved quite some headache that way.
Here's what the "fuse box" looked before (with a detail shot of the fuses)
and here's what it looks now:
So yeah... it's still not up to code. But let's face it: the only thing that will bring this building any closer to code is a bulldozer. Right now I'm happy as it is, since I am confident that this installation won't cause a fire. Only thing that's left to do is the "night time circuit" for the hot water heater (to the right) - it needs a circuit breaker too...