Wiring problems, and possibly unsafe old wiring

Hi,
First of all, I have a circuit that started tripping every time a large appliance such as a washing machine or a dishwasher was used. I had no money for repairs, so I just stopped using the dishmachine and ran an extension cord to another circuit for the washer, but now the light fixtures attached to it have stopped working. A voltmeter shows that there is voltage going to the fixtures, and I've tested the bulbs to make sure that they work. Any ideas? This house was built in 1935, and the wire running to this circuits breaker is a really old one with that cloth insulation, probably the original work. Is this something a DIYer would have a chance of fixing without burning the house down? If not, any ballpark guess on how much an electrician would charge for something like this?
Second, while looking at the wires in the attic, I'm kind of skeptical about the craftsmanship of the person who installed it. Some of the wires are just loose, running 15 feet or more unanchored to anything. Some are connected to porcelein discs which are connected to wooden beams, and others are just stapled to the beams. Many of the wires and porcelein discs are buried in sawdust-like insulation so deep you can't see them. I had the home inspected before I bought it, and I don't recall the inspectors saying anything about this. I'm not an electrician and I don't know much about it, but I would think this is a fire hazard and I'm concerned about safety issues. I've already lived in one home of similar age that caught fire due to electrical issues. What do you think?
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Call an electrician. If you don't know enough to know a problem when you see it, it's not a diy'er.
Running an extension cord to run the dishwasher is _not_ a good idea.
You probably have a loose ground somewhere on that circuit now. The whole story is one of a house more than likely needing a rewiring.
If the inspection/purchase was quite recent, you might have some recourse although most of those inspection contracts have so many caveats in them that they're butts are covered even if the house were to fall down the next day... :(
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I agree with Duane. You have a potentially dangerous situation and it does not sound like you have the experience and knowledge to correct it. There are just far too many possible issues to try and give you instructions over the internet.
For starters, I suggest that the voltage you are getting on the line may not be an indication of anything like you think it means. 30 years ago the meter you used would likely have read zero volts, today's meters are far more sensitive and you are likely to come close to 120V even when there is very little current available. Note: Without knowing what you are doing, please don't assume this is the case, it may not be and you could have a live line. Even something as simple as checking the line for voltage may not be a simple as it seems.
Try to find an older professional. He has seen it all and knows what to look for and how to correct it. The new kid may not have any experience on legacy wiring and may not know where to start.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
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circa 1935 your lucky they even bothered to tie the wiring down.
http://www.codecheck.com/wiring_history.htm I pass this link on from someone else who posted in on this newsgroup.
Have you checked the smoke detectors batteries you bought when you moved in? You did install smoke detectors,,, right?
I sure hope you purchased this home as a "fixer upper" Most of the houses I have worked on from that era had 2 to 4 circuits for the whole house. Nothing was dedicated for heavy appliances. Washers ~15-20 amps when spinning, dishwashers with heat on ~18 amps, etc.
You want a ball park and we do not even know what planet your on.
Last one I did in Phoenix cost the little old lady $2300 for a complete rewire and new 150 amp service. We brought every thing up to the code at the time. We had to junction box all of the walls in the ceiling. Fished down each wall and installed a new box and wiring. She worked during the day so we had to work on weekends to accommodate her schedule. Took 4 weekends to finish with me and 2 helpers. House was ~800 sqft.
Get a pro to help/guide you. Yes some of the work can be done by lesser skilled folks, but knowing how and why is the real trick. You might be able to find someone to work with you.
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You have "knob and tube" wiring, the porcelain discs being the "knobs (insulators) and probably porcelain tubes where some of the wires g through framing. Get an old guy to fix it
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