Removing Ceiling made of drywall, chicken wire, and plaster

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by NoStoppin, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. NoStoppin

    NoStoppin New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    las vegas
    Hello all, this is my first post on this wonderful forum.

    I recently bought a house built in 1963. I don't live in it yet. We recently went to remove the popcorn ceiling and came to realize just how bad the ceiling in the living room was. When we started taking it down, we were shocked to find that the ceiling is plaster over drywall.

    what we also found is that the chicken wire (and sometimes more closely spaced wire mesh!) runs more than 2" down into the walls. So when ripping the ceiling down, we also damaged the top of the walls in places. turns out the walls are built the same as the ceiling.

    After long thought, I've decided to take the ceiling down everywhere. There are some compelling reasons to do so:

    -) wiring is all non-grounded 12 gauge copper. cloth outer insulation (which is fragile) with plastic coated conductors. I'm sure it's not code, so opening the ceiling would allow a much easier access to pulling wire.

    -) insulation above ceiling is 2 layers of owens-corning R11-13 fiberglass batting. the first layer has a backing. problem is that the 2nd layer also has the same backing and there is some areas where mold was growing. opening the ceiling will make replacing the insulation way easier.

    -) did I mention that there is maybe 12" at the highest point between the joists and the roof sheathing? so crawling around on top is virtually impossible.

    -) it would make putting new light fixtures, speakers, ceiling fans, and etc much faster and easier

    -) it would be a perfect time to examine the duct work

    My apology for the long preamble.

    To do this and avoid wall damage, I need to make a flush cut where the wall meets the ceiling. I have 2554 sq feet to do. I want to avoid cutting into the joists. I'll be working above my head.

    a circular saw with a masonry blade would zip right through it, but not give me the flush cut. a rotary type of tool sounds like it could do the job, but there's no depth limit on any I've seen.

    I'm kind of stumped and hope that someone may know of the perfect tool for this job.

    peace,

    Tim Olson
    Las Vegas
  2. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet Member

    Messages:
    377
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    I've done this. Circ saw is way too heavy. A 4 in. or maybe bigger grinder with a stack of cutoff wheels
    will get the job done in a few hours. The dust will be intense, you'll need eye and lung protection.
    Do it freehand, you'll get a feel for the depth right quick. A few scratches on the framing won't hurt anything.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,267
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    And have you considered that the "popcorn" ceiling may very well have asbestos in it? If so, tearing into it, especially with a saw or grinder, could create a serious health hazard. The wiring WAS code, but is not now, so it is up to you whether you want to upgrade it.
  4. big2bird

    big2bird IBEW Electrician

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Anaheim, Ca.
    1963? I would bet on it. I would wet it down with a hose first, and if your going to rewire, then just tear the wall/drywall down.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,267
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; 1963? I would bet on it. I would wet it down with a hose first

    Exactly, and even wetting it down would not satisfy the EPA. They would want Hazmat crews and an encapsulated house, with blower and filters.
  6. NoStoppin

    NoStoppin New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    las vegas
    thank you kreemo, as luck would have it I recently acquired a 4" grinder for 6 bucks. What type of wheel would you recommend? I've been trying to read up on this, and sometimes a wheel that's good for cutting through the wire will get clogged up by the plaster. I've been thinking a masonry cutoff wheel like this maybe

    http://www.acetoolonline.com/Mercer...gn=googlebase&site=google_product_listing_ads

    at 81 cents apiece, I could buy 20 or 30 for cheap.

    thanks again!
  7. NoStoppin

    NoStoppin New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    las vegas
    Thank you hj; I was looking for nevada code requirements but so far I've only found the supplemental to the national code. Your comment gives me pause; I just assumed that if I were to ever have a licensed contractor working on the place, that it would require bringing it up to current code. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the conductors; they are solid 12 gauge copper and the (pvc?) jackets are in great shape. it's just the cloth outer covering that has me worried. Do you think it would be safe to keep it the way it is? 2/3 of the outlets in the house are ungrounded. the "grounded" outlets could be called "3-prong" outlets = no grounding. I also recall the price of copper nowadays, and haven't even begun to work up a materials cost for this.

    thanks again
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,267
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; the "grounded" outlets could be called "3-prong" outlets = no grounding.

    As a "workaround" you can use GFCI outlets and lable them that way. They do not give a grounding function, such as a computer would need, but will give a degree of "people protection'.
  9. big2bird

    big2bird IBEW Electrician

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Anaheim, Ca.
    To NOT rewire above the ceiling while the ceiling is out is a huge wasted effort.
  10. NoStoppin

    NoStoppin New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    las vegas
    thanks big2; do you think I could add grounds to the existing wiring? Im not looking forward to the copper bill to replace everything, but if I have to I will
  11. big2bird

    big2bird IBEW Electrician

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Anaheim, Ca.
    Technically, you can, but honestly, a rewire is faster/better. How large is the house? 1200sq' built in the 60's probbly has 3 x250' rolls at $75 a roll. Not a huge bill, but still $$.
    You can install a GFCI receptacle at the first outlet after the panel, and legally install grounded receptacles after that, or run a seperate ground to the nearest cold water at EVERY receptacle. Water pipe grond clamps and rolls of number 12 solid are expensive also.
    I would bite the bullet and just do it while the ceiling and walls are open.
    Your call, but my advice is free.
  12. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet Member

    Messages:
    377
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    If I'm not mistaken, the NEC provisions that allowed a separate equipment grounding conducter to be run, and attached to a water pipe,
    were removed quite some time ago. The proliferation of non-metallic pipe and the defacto failure of plumbers and plumbing inspectors
    to recognise electrical issues and enforce existing code provisions meant to prevent electrically hazardous situations, made those practices
    really somewhat dangerous. Current electrical code requires the equipment grounding conductors to run in the same cable (or conduit) as
    the other circuit conductors.
  13. big2bird

    big2bird IBEW Electrician

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    Anaheim, Ca.
    Yes and no. There is an end run. You are allowed to bond a 3 wire grounded receptacle to a metal box IF the box is grounded. SO, you run a ground wire from the exterior of the metal box to a cold water pipe, and you "technically" comply with 250-146. Back in the 50's alot of kitchens and bathrooms were indeed grounded this way.
    I still discourage it and suggest HIGHLY he just rewire it while apart.
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