I recently purchased a home (built in the 50s, northern USA) and the man who previously lived there definitely did some DIY work around the house. I found a mess of (seemingly disconnected) wiring that connects to a thin steel cable in my basement ceiling, and I'd like to know what it is / was.
Within an air duct, there's a long pair of wires, perhaps 18 awg, orange and white. They go through some holes in the duct, and the orange wraps around a pipe, I assume to ground it. The white one is soldered to what looks like a thin steel cable that runs all throughout the basement. It is installed much more neatly, and I assume was professionally installed to once serve a useful purpose.
I'd like to know what the thin steel cable is, what it was originally for, and anything I should know when I pull out the orange and white wiring and disconnect them from it.