Heart transplant for Kump House

Replacing the old electrical meter and rewiring the whole Kump house is as transforming as heart transplant surgery plus a total vascular system replacement. Contractor Michael Marrs and his team are in the process of replacing the 94-year-old electrical meter and all the old wiring to make the building suitable and safe for public educational purposes.

Without these changes the whole house would be essentially useless in the 21st century. If we tried to use new appliances and computers on the old wires, we could destroy our equipment and/or cause a fatal fire.

As I watch the work being done, I realize that these electricians must have a great deal of knowledge and intelligence to be able to figure out where the wires should go next.

The whole house is a giant, three dimensional maze. Each time a wire hits an obstruction, the electricians have to stop and figure out which way to fish the line through a wall or ceiling in a new direction. Sometimes the obstruction is a vertical stud holding up a wall to support the house. Other times it is a horizontal 2 x 4 board installed to help slow or stop the progress of a fire.

I watched Mr. Marrs put his cell phone in a hole in a ceiling to take a picture above the plaster and see what was blocking the path of a wire. If the barrier is wooden, the men may drill a hole to allow a new wire to go through; however, if it is brick, drilling is much more difficult and an exterior conduit may be necessary.

In 1924 the Kump house had lovely sconce lamps and overhead fixtures. Now skilled electricians can completely rewire historic fixtures with new Underwriter Laboratory approved parts. When it was built, each room in the Kump house had just one receptacle because only a few electrical appliances were available then. Rewiring each room to meet new electrical codes and preserve the historic look of the house is a challenge.

The current changes to our familiar local landmark are not just cosmetic. Now skilled electricians are making deeper changes that will help convert an old private home into a public facility. This heart transplant will give the Kump Education Center building a new future.

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