Interesting "transitional" wiring; how to splice?

Page 1 of 3  
Sadly, I had to attend the funeral of an elderly family member over the weekend. There is a house involved that will have to be sold soon as none of the descendants live in the area, and the "old farmhouse" was sold years ago, this is just a house in which she was living.
In discussion with other family members (who have had a few days more than I to work on getting this moving,) I was told that "FHA would require" the fusebox to be replaced with a breaker box to qualify for a loan. True? This just doesn't seem right to me.
More importantly visual inspection red-flagged the receptacles to me as those old 2-prong T-slot ones, and I mentioned that to the other family member (executor of will/estate/etc) then ran down to fusebox again to investigate wiring. Here's what I eventually found.
- all wiring that appears to be original to the house is cloth covered NM type cables, appear to be in excellent shape.
- Every single cable that was oriented so that I could read the printing on it was marked "With Ground." Hmmm...
- pulled out a recep in the living room and I found a very nicely installed single gang box, two cables coming into it, and yes they were grounded! The two ground wires from the cables were spliced to a pigtail which was screwed to the metal box. The recep of course was ungrounded.
- here's the kicker; that splice was *soldered.*
- and yes, the wiring is COPPER not aluminum thankfully!
- so to summarize, the wiring, other than not being 90C temp rated, appears functionally identical to what would be installed today, with the exception that the receps are obsolete.
So, I ASSume that what I should do, in the interest of inexpensively removing what would be a red flag to a buyer, is to just go to the supply house, buy a couple contractor packs of good duplex receps and some green 14 (or a box of greenies,) and roll through and replace all the receps in the house with new 3-prong ones. Question is, what would be the best way to splice to that soldered connection? I'm a little concerned with the idea of just slapping a greenie on top of possibly 60 year old solder. Should I twist a new pigtail into the bundle and add some solder? Or am I all concerned about nothing and the wire nut of the greenie will bite through the solder acceptably? If I should solder, what wattage iron did a typical electrician use back in the day? I'm assuming this is going to be typical of 20-30 boxes throughout the house so I am trying to plan my moves so that I can roll through there in a day.
I probably will bring some GFCIs as well and put them in the kitchen and bath as I don't believe that anything was ever updated, ever.
I don't know exactly when the house was built, but I am assuming sometime in the 50's by the kitchen cabinets and countertop (which I love.)
Another interesting feature of the house is that the light switches are all pushbuttons. I think there was a thread on these a while back where I mentioned this very house, as I've never seen them elsewhere. Like this:
http://www.drillspot.com/products/683485/hubbell_wiring_hbl1281_push_button_ac_switches_standard_switch
but ivory in color, and the button is perfectly rectangular and square to the wall. When I go back I'll have to pull one out and snap some pics.
Sidebar question - my inclination is to keep the original switches and plastic cover plates, as IMHO they "fit" the age and decor of the house. Or do you think it would be better to replace the switches and plates as well to provide a more "modern" look? I'm concerned with bang for the buck here and the perceptions of the average buyer. I know that I'm not average :)
thanks for any advice/opinions, esp. on how to deal with the solder joints.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02/13/2012 09:02 AM, Nate Nagel wrote:

http://www.drillspot.com/products/683485/hubbell_wiring_hbl1281_push_button_ac_switches_standard_switch
Additional comment: the odd thing is that the last house I personally owned was several years older, and did not have grounds, but did use wire nuts everywhere that a splice was required! I guess the guy that wired this house was just old school.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nate Nagel wrote:

If I'm reading your description correctly, the grounds are twisted and soldered together with one of the wires continuing past that splice to be screwed to the metal box. If this is the case I would remove that screwed connection, twist on the new pigtail to the new receptacle and top it off with one of the Ideal pre-fab ground wirenut pigtail assemblies that has a green wire nut with a green wire coming out of the end of the wire nut and terminating to a spade lug terminal which you would screw to the box. I've been using those pigtail assemblies extensively since I found them and really like them.
GFCIs in the kitchen, bathroom, basement and garage as applicable, and those should be easy since you have grounded wiring already.
On those pushbutton switches, I'd be inclined to replace them all with regular toggle or Decora style switches which will look more "up to date" to potential buyers and barely knowledgeable home inspectors. I suspect that the pushbutton switches and plates could fetch a few $ on ebay from someone doing a restoration type project.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Don't know about FHA requirements. You could call them. Also since there are lots of other lenders, what FHA wants may not be an issue.

As long as there is enough wire, I'd just cut off the solder connection , strip, use wire nuts.

The link didn't work, so don;t know what they look like. Sounds like they could be odd and since you want the least issues possible, for the cost, I'd just replace them.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02/13/2012 09:56 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

True. However, I'm not the executor so I'm not running this show. There are several fuse boxes and it would be *neater* to replace them with two breaker panels (one is a subpanel for kitchen and laundry; wouldn't make sense to incorporate into main panel.) However I'm not convinced of the necessity to replace; I don't see a safety hazard.
The flip side is that perception is as important as reality when it comes to selling.
<snip>

I only looked at one box, so I dunno. It looked like it might make the wires too short by code. That's always on the table though.
I did think of another option after I posted, which is what I may do. Undo the ground screw to the box, snip the loop off that pigtail, wire nut (orange) a longer pigtail to it, wrap around ground screw and leave pigtail for recep. That way I don't have to disturb anything original and I still am not relying on "self grounding" clips for ground connection to plugged-in equipment. (I guess sometimes you have to think about things for a bit before the "right" answer comes to you.)

Was supposed to be a "Hubbell Presswitch" - not sure why it didn't work. I'm kind of on the fence. Some buyers may appreciate the originality and untouched nature of things. Some may want to roll through and replace everything with Decora. Who can say?
I do know that everything works in the house - my cousin and I (as well as my nephew, but being three, he's not going to be asked to fix anything <G>) visited the late inhabitant just a few months ago while I was in town to actually help cousin with some electrical work at her place; we weren't asked to look at anything while we were there, and also some family members have been staying in the house this week and nothing was mentioned as not working over the weekend. So I'm assuming that everything is in fact fully functional, I just want to get rid of the old T-slot receps to remove a red flag to potential buyers, but at the same time to not do what the PO's of my last house did and do it in a doglick, unsafe manner. (bootleg grounds = sign of the hack.) I figure I'll be nice and buy "spec grade" receps as well, since they're cheaper at the supply house than the horrid builder grade stuff at the big boxen, and the estate is paying for supplies not YT (although of course I do have a vested interest in the house selling well.) I just don't want the estate to be paying an electrician to do this work because a) it'd be silly when several family members are perfectly capable of knocking it out in a day and at least I am willing to have a go at it and b) AFAIK it is perfectly legal in most jurisdictions for a homeowner to replace receptacles without a permit/inspection, as long as it's a one for one, and based on my understanding of the code, if I replace any recep in a grounded box, I *must* use a modern grounding type recep, no exceptions, so it's all perfectly legit.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/13/2012 9:23 AM, Nate Nagel wrote: ...

Just posted that in passing altho if use the proper ones the self-grounding receptacles are Code-compliant, as well. And, Code-compliant is Code-compliant; just different gear. ...

IMO it's pointless to try to predict and make such hit 'n miss changes on the idea of trying to make a difference in a sale. Unless do a major renovation/uplift, it's highly unlikely you'll recoup the investment/effort and may, in fact, actually do more to dissuade than persuade by ending up w/ a mishmash that doesn't fit and suits nobody.
BTW, the 't-slot' receptacle you mention--if you mean a NEMA 5-20R that has the two parallel slots w/ the one having a perpendicular slot as well to allow a plug w/ the two prongs at 90 degrees, that is a 20A receptacle and unless the circuits are 20A circuits that is a violation to have them on 15A (14 ga wire) circuits. If there are a mix of 15A and 20A circuits, make certain the receptacles match the capacity correctly.
Check the chart... <http://www.nooutage.com/nema_configurations.htm
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02/13/2012 10:40 AM, dpb wrote:

The receps I am thinking of look similar to the pic in the first post here
http://www.nachi.org/forum/f19/dont-believe-leviton-still-selling-these-31828 /
or the one on the right hand side here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NEMA_5_1_devices2.jpg
I don't know when the last time they were made was, but at least to my mind a) they're kind of cool in a vintage sort of way and b) they gotta go because seeing those in a house that I would be considering buying would be a red flag requiring more investigation.
I'm pretty sure that they're not 20A circuits, although obviously next time I'm up there I will investigate thoroughly. In any case AFAIK there's no code issue using a 5-15R on a 20A circuit.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/13/2012 9:47 AM, Nate Nagel wrote:

Those are to allow either 15A or 20A nonpolarized plugs.
They're not some 120V odd-ball "old" flat 120V plug that someone is claiming was an old 110V standard on that other link; that's just nonsense.
As far as the "red flag" issue, that's a personal problem, not a real one... :)

That's true, but there is one the other way 'round about a 20A outlet on a 15A circuit. And, those would allow a 20A plug which if they're installed on a 15A circuit is not kosher.
I'm just saying that since you're going to the effort to go to grounded outlets anyway, you might as well be sure to be consistent w/ the circuits in which you're installing them. There might be a 20A circuit or two for something like a window A/C unit; I don't have any way to know of course, but certainly if they're all 15A circuits you don't want the 20A receptacles.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/13/2012 11:39 AM, dpb wrote:

I don't think so. Are there even 20A plugs without a ground pin? The other question is whether it would fit in the flat dimension.

Nope. There did used to be 120V plugs where both prongs were flat. They would fit in a T-slot.
The "T-slot" receptacle goes back a long time.
Going back even further, some loads, like maybe an early vacuum cleaner, had a "plug" that was like an Edison-base light bulb. The screw shell could rotate freely until the plug bottomed. It was used early when there were lights but no receptacles. Then they made matching "receptacles" that were like an Edison socket. There was a flap that covered the opening when not in use.
--
bud--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

receptacles in the first house my parents bought were that style. I've seen numerous old appliances with the "wacky" plugs on them - both tandem and T, that were definitely 115 volt - and definitely not 20 amp.
They (the double T-slot outlets) were available until the early sixties. A variation was the nurpolian quad - it had parallel and tandem blade outlets together in one unit.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/13/2012 9:47 AM, Nate Nagel wrote:

(The linked thread has a familiar figure.)
The thread is 2004. The link to the Leviton T-slot does not work now. If I remember right, the last thread on T-slots here, replacements were available but were not UL listed.
--
bud--

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
OP should call his local homeowners insurance company and ask the following.
I am thinking of buying a home, that has fuse boxes. will you provide NEW insurance coverage......??
in most cases the answer is no. state farm wouldnt insure any new customers with fuse boxes, K&T wiring. in many cases they send a inspector before writing a policy. they look for hazards, like cracked sidewalks, that might cause a trip and fall accident, worn shingles, trash piled under decks etc etc etc.
homeowners companies want to make a profit.
without homeowners insurance no one can get a mortage..........
and as far as i know soldered joints were never approved for wiring other than K&T.
so your home may be a money pit, to be sold off cheap
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
FHA is indeed more picky about homes condition. they want successful buyers who are able to pay their mortage.
I hope OP keeps this discussion updated as to what happens.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02/13/2012 11:00 AM, bob haller wrote:

Hah. Sadly I could probably purchase the house for cash if I wanted to, but what would I do with a house in that area? Certainly can't get a job there...
I imagine that what'll end up happening is that I will take a long weekend and go up there and upgrade all the devices, and then the executor will hire an electrician to do a new breaker box(es.) I did call the inspector for that area and no permit required for device replacement so I'm covered there. I don't really want to get into a panel replacement, esp. since I live 5 hours' drive away (by Jeep; in a car I suppose it could be less - shh! But a Jeep was definitely required this past weekend!) and don't want to find that I don't have the right tool etc. and the inspector is coming in four hours and the power company guy will be right behind him... sometimes it's easier to let the pros do it, and also seeing the sticker might give prospective buyers a little more confidence.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/13/2012 9:55 AM, bob haller wrote:

My State Farm agent said K&T is not necessarily a problem. Probably not in small quantities.
A real estate agent I know said that it was not that hard to get insurance for a 60A fused service.

Solder joints were used for much more than K&T. You can use solder joints now.
Receptacles should generally be tamper resistant, which indicates they have been replaced recently, which may be a flag. I don't like self-grounding receptacles but I might use them in a case like this.
If fuses are not a problem, you might make sure they have fusestat adapters so the fuse size is not interchangeable. Eliminates a potential flag.
--
bud--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/13/2012 10:58 AM, bud-- wrote: ...

Actually, there's a point to be raised here to OP.
NEC _PROHIBITS_ solder connections in service wires, in the ground wire or in a grounding wire.
It isn't prohibited to have solder connection but it must not be the mechanical means of holding the connection together; iow it must have a mechanical fastener as well.
OP's biggest task to bring the installation up to Code is probably to correct that if the existing wiring is soldered only.
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/13/2012 11:45 AM, dpb wrote:

For a ground wire it depends on what the code says at the time the house was wired. And also depends on the allowed practice in that jurisdiction at that time.

The mechanical means is typically by twisting the wires. Before there were wire nuts, BX (for instance) wires would be twisted, fluxed, and pointed down. The electrician would come around with a solder pot and raise the pot to dip the connection. A fastener is not required. I have only seen one of these connections that was bad.

There didn't used to be wire nuts; soldering was common. Ground wires may or may not be compliant. If the ground connection is not disturbed (for instance using self-grounding receptacles) I doubt an inspector would care in any case.
--
bud--




Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/13/2012 1:58 PM, bud-- wrote: ...

That's usta' be.
I'd not be at all surprised that an inspection would have an issue w/ soldered ground wires now if they're disturbed at all. If completely undisturbed they would have good chance of getting by, I'd agree.
The point was to simply to make OP aware of current reqm'ts...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nate,
I just

Sorry to be pedantic here but it does not sound as if you own this house, the estate does. You aren't the owner or a licensed electrician. Doesn't sound legit. I'd do the wiring but I wouldn't fool myself by saying it's legit.
Dave M.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 02/13/2012 12:21 PM, Dave M. wrote:

I already called the inspector for the area and confirmed that he does not require a permit for the work. I'm definitely not trying to do anything slim shady here, just trying to make things right and help the house sell as quickly as possible - unoccupied houses are quite the liability.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.