In this case, I've been tearing out walls, breaking up old partially mildewed drywall and then ripping out the supporting 2x4s. This one wall had an electrical box inset in it, which was capped with a solid plate (i.e. no outlets). Removing the cap revealed old black cloth-wrapped wire, capped off, but presumably not hot. I mean, who in their right mind would install new electric service and leave some of the old cloth-wrapped shit in use? And this stuff was threaded through holes drilled through the 2x4s, which makes it a bitch to get the old rotting wood out without disturbing the wire. Easiest thing: cut the wire.
But still, I figured better safe than sorry, yes? So I use the sawzall to cut on either side of the wire and then use a prybar as a chisel, and break things up enough to rip it out. And that's when I can start tracing this wire.
And it goes halfway across the basement and then up into the kitchen, on one side. And in the other direction, over to the other side of the basement, presumably to a plug that I know is live (though maybe I need to rip out another wall to be sure?)
So, this little project has just grown to include an electrician and a bit of rewiring around the house. Joy.
Meanwhile, I've also been going through stuff that's been stored forever, tossed out the obvious junque and set aside a pile of stuff to cast to the freecycle winds.
But freecycling begins at home, as they say.
So here's a list of stuff for any who want to lay a claim:
Nordictrack Pro ski machine thingie - we got it used, used it a couple times and shoved it in a corner
3' aquarium/reptile heat lamp
Krups coffee pot - worked last time we used it
misc CD racks
* 1 small black plastic desktop model
* 1 less small wooden desktop models
father-in-law. never used.
Black & Decker "flavor scenter handy steamer(tm)" - don't remember ever using
sweater dryer rack (never used)
brass three-bulb wall-lamp thingie (maybe for bathrooms?) never used
Homedics back massager thingie - fits in your chair.
I'm sure more stuff will appear as we proceed, but that's a start. Drop me a note if there's anything that you might find useful.