Electrical wiring gone wild - not a question

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So me and my wiring instructor buddy are down in the basement clipping the romex that powers the basement. I'm about to rewire the whole thing and add an additional circuit - so we shut off the breaker and clipped the wires to make demolition easier.
Anyway we get to one notorious section of my basement where the empty but powered light sockets hang down from the splice in the wire. My buddy is curious about how the splice was done, and taking a knife proceeds to unwind the electricians tape from the splice. Turns out the original installer simply stripped a section of the original hot wire of insulation - about 4 inches worth, then wound the hot wire of the socket around the bare wire - and covered it with electricians tape. The same was done with the neutral wire. Keep in mind, he didn't cut the wire, he simply removed the insulation (how I don't know). The socket wire, strand type, was only losely wound around the bare copper wire.
He did suspend the wire from the wall by using a bent finishing nail (and nicked the Romex in the process). I'll be grateful when the rewire is done, all it would take is for one spider to call that place home and that'd be all she wrote.
I guess this is why the inspection process is so important, and one of the reasons why I'm having mine inspected before closing up the wall. No need to leave the next owner a ticking time bomb.
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Eigenvector wrote:

That was pretty common "in the day". They also used T-taps to add wires http://www.tpub.com/content/construction/14027/css/14027_123.htm Wait until you find some of those babies.
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I can't believe they would have endorsed something like that. Wouldn't it have been far easier to simply twist the wires together with a wire nut? Not being an electrician, that's what I would have done. If I was really concerned about it I would have taped the nut to the wire insulation to seal the connection.
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Eigenvector wrote:

Notice in the link, from a Navy electricians manual of unknow vintage, the splice is soldered. A soldered tap splice like that was standard and safe in knob and tube wiring. Open splices were never standard with Romex. Connections, after knob and tube, had to be made in accessible boxes. Wire nuts didn't exist for knob and tube. Soldering was still used after connections were required to be in boxes.
The tap was probably made in an existing running wire where you couldn't cut the wire and just resplice it with wire nuts adding the light.
--bud--
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Eigenvector wrote:

That type of junction was considered a good practice back in "the day" before standards evolved to what they are today. Back in the days of "friction tape" (anyone remember that stuff). I believe back then that cuts/splices/junctions were considered bad and should be avoided to the point possible.
The T was also used for communications lines, like phone lines, so you could work without breaking the circuit. You could wire it "hot", if need be. That's always fun.
They also used to have a "Western Union" connects for when stress or strain was going to be on a junction. Think about that one for a while.
Things like that worked really well. Here you are working on circuits that are approaching 100 years old and they are fine, the junctions are good, etc. etc. Let's hope wire nuts stand up that well.
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Eigenvector wrote:

A previous owner of my current house did some similar "quality" work. He happened to work for the electric utility too, kinda figures they wouldn't have a clue how to wire a house. I've replaced pretty much all of it along with the panels in the shop and house all with top grade materials and done properly. No inspections here though as I'm outside city limits.
Pete C.
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I'm outside city limits too, but for me the dangers of bad electrical work are too dire to not have the inspector brought in. At least I don't have to pay for a permit - all I'm doing is updating existing circuits.
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Eigenvector spake thus:

Relax; I've seen a *lot* worse.
Like the restaurant I did some wiring for a few <cough> years ago; I discovered a circuit in the kitchen that ran directly to the service panel outside, with *no* breakers or fuses, just the service disconnect breaker.
You probably could have lived with your tapped-light socket circuit for many years with no problems.
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Other than the fact that it was "...loosely wrapped", there nothing wrong with this as a temporary fixture.

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Eigenvector wrote:

Maybe the guy was used to working on new construction, where this is often done for temporary lighting? Either way, it's not code.
Somewhat related but not as dangerous, I have found in my old house several instances where two switches share a wall box. It seems that it must have been common practice to take the "hot" wire, strip about 3/4" or so of insulation, and wrap it around the terminal on one switch, then terminate the end of the wire at the other switch. Not sure why this was done, perhaps large size wire nuts were not available at the time? (late 40's) apparently wire nuts were available as I have found several that appear to be original splicing the neutrals together. In cases where I have found switches arranged as I describe above, I have replaced this setup with a pigtail of new wire and a red or yellow wire nut as appropriate.
nate
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Friends home had fire, little insurance. I was demoing a wall and found a romex line running between floors joined about halfg way with a knot and wirenuts, it was hanging in the wall. no box no nothing...
yes sir short on wire just tie a knot:(
found most romex wasnt anchored to box at all, house filled with K&T some visibly singed and connecftions and solder melted. electrician had been there earlier supposedly safetied things. homeowner touched wall and sparks flew. seems someone had papered over box she had lived there for years and didnt know a box was there.someone blew in cellouse in cavities with K&T:( the list was endless..
I installed a temporary service to all 3 floors with one master light switch and plenty of outlets on 4 20 amp breakers and cut everything else clear...... I cut the wires off short so no bozo would reconnect them! homeowner kept saying well reuse this. here I will clean this box so it can be used, straighten this romex cant you use it over there?(
by this time the homeowner had fired the fire restoration copany, what a ripoff.
Homeowner had home COMPLETELY professionally it still amazes me the hoiuse fire and its 130K in damage wasnt started by wiring, a cat knocked over a lamp:(
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Chuckle. Found one of those in the bathroom in this place when I rewired it, running to the GFCI near the sink. Butt splices, not wire nuts. Ungrounded and switched to boot. I managed to steal grounded power from a bedroom outlet in the same wall to power the GFCI, so the outlet is actually hot with the lights out now. The ungrounded string now just feeds the vanity lights, since there was no painless way to string switched power to it.
aem sends...
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N8N spake thus:
> Somewhat related but not as dangerous, I have found in my old house

Why?
Assuming everything is in good condition--no loose insulation, loose wire strands, etc.--what's wrong with this method? I probably wouldn't use it for new wiring, but it's perfectly safe.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Because I am systematically going through and replacing all of the receptacles in the house, because a significant number of them don't hold a plug securely and/or show sogns of cracking or burning. I realize that has absolutely zip to do with switches, but when I explained this to She Who Must Be Obeyed, she expressed a preference for white receptacles and plates, so all of the switches are getting replaced as well. Since this is 60-year-old cloth covered wire, I figured that adding pigtails so the next time I need to poke around in that box I'm not flexing the cloth covered wiring might prevent future issues.
In SWMBO's defense, the previous devices were a schizophrenic mix of ivory and brown and nothing basically matched, and the white does look better against the walls in the house which are basically very lightly tinted pure white. (one room is pure white with a faint green tint, another is a faint blue tint, etc... I would have never thought to paint a house like this, the previous owners picked the colors and I have to say it does maintain an open, airy feel which is important with small rooms without falling into the trap of painting everything "rental white.")
nate
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N8N wrote:

N8N:
What IS it with wives and white electrical devices? But that's a debate I'll never win...I can't even convince her that the advantages of a room-light switch within reach of the bed would outweigh the negative aspects of 'looking like a hotel'. Of course she's not the one who has to get up and switch the light off. :)
Cordially yours: G P
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Thats what X-10 controls (and follow-on products) were invented for.
--
Rich Greenberg N Ft Myers, FL, USA richgr atsign panix.com + 1 239 543 1353
Eastern time. N6LRT I speak for myself & my dogs only. VM\'er since CP-67
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On 31 Oct 2006 09:56:34 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote:

I have a light switch by my bed (as well as at the door), using X10 modules. That was one of the FIRST things I did when moving into this house.
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55 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
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I actually like the white switches better, they don't look like they have been exposed to 40 years of ozone like the off-white ones do. But, then again I was talked into replacing worn out switches with those flat decor style switches - I must have been high when that deal went down. God they look stupid.
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On Wed, 1 Nov 2006 17:46:00 -0800, "Eigenvector"

I prefer white. Not enough to replace working switches and receptacles just for that, but I choose white for all replacements. Ivory looks like it's constantly dirty.
As for the Decora, I see no reason to consider them "looking stupid". The switches have a larger area, making then easier to use. I see no advantage for receptacles. I have used them because the receptacles and switches use the same shape cover plate, making it easier to find the combination you need (you just might want to put a switch, a receptacle, and a GFCI in the same 3-gang box).
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53 days until the winter solstice celebration

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