Can improper wiring actually cause a fire?

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"insurers insist that the houses be rewired "
Funny, I was told insurers don't get involved in wiring to codes etc. on this very listserv.
(Doug Miller)

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wrote:

Not a code issue, it is a economic one, no insurance, no mortgage, no sale.
Mark

(sixoneeight) = 618
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You misunderstood....They said the insurance company won't deny a claim for said wiring.....refusing to write a policy or canceling a policy is not the same thing......I had a insurance company cancel my policy after insuring my 100yr old house for probably 50years (20years with me with never a claim).... for not replacing my roof on their schedule instead of mine....nearly dying, surgery, serious health issues and related financial impacts etc. wasn't important to them at all<g>. I figure the company bean counters decided humble "old houses" were not a market they were interested in anymore......I had another company refuse a new policy based on a some remaining knob & tube wiring in my attic.....Rod
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(sixoneeight)@hotmail wrote:

Yes, I'm familiar with that phenomenon. We have a subdivision not far from my home in Indianapolis with the same problem. I have to wonder, though, just how "properly" it was actually installed -- lots and lots of homes were not done correctly from the get-go, even by professionals who should have known better. And of course over time, homeowners replace switches, receptacles, and light fixtures, probably in complete ignorance of the potential dangers. It would be interesting to see if anyone has ever determined whether the fires originated in the original wiring or in later modifications.

Yeah, Chicago has a "thing" about fires for some reason...
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Mon, 18 Dec 2006 18:20:01 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

I helped a friend on a side job rewiring one of the houses, it was done to spec all through. But we did replace half of the devices as they showed evidence of arcing due to the expansion and contraction of the aluminum wire.
I do not see the NEC as eliminating hazards but mitigating the hazards, I read you saying " no hazard" my bad maybe?
NEC might have changed to since the middle 70s to address problems encountered.
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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(sixoneeight)@hotmail wrote:

Were they all Cu/Al rated?

No more yours than mine. I did say that, properly installed, it was safe enough to satisfy the NFPA. But I had omitted any mention of the need for periodic maintenance, which you correctly pointed out.

It probably has. The oldest Code books I have around are a 1999 NEC, and, for some reason, a 1987 Code Handbook. Oldest one I've ever actually used was 1984, and I've slept a time or two since then...
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Mon, 18 Dec 2006 19:03:04 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Yes, but the walls were under insulated (cheap housing). That points me to the temp swings of the seasons as a contributing factor in the problems seen there.
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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On Mon, 18 Dec 2006 12:49:27 -0600, Markem wrote:

NEC specifies the type of fittings to be used with aluminum--some are rated for both copper and aluminum, some for just one or the other, and there are special wire nuts for interconnecting the two.

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--John
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Markem (sixoneeight) wrote:

Could you summarize some of the maintenance issues?
Does anything need inspection and/or replacement more often than copper wire?
--

FF


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On Wed, 3 Jan 2007 12:49:12 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote

Check connection tightness perodically. The wide thermal expansion properties makes Al wire tend to work itself loose after awhile. Also be ware of any connecting devices (wire nuts, screw lugs, etc.) that are not specifically rated for Al wire.
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Bruce wrote:

That's kind of hard to do when the connections are inside of the wall, right?
--

FF


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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net writes:

NEC forbids connections that cannot be easily accessed. In this case, one must pull the device and torque the connections to the correct value for Al Wire.
Of course, the device itself must be rated for AL or AL/CU.
scott
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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:
> That's kind of hard to do when the connections are inside of the > wall, right?
You are in over your head sunshine, give it up.
Lew
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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

[...]
[...]
That, in and of itself, is sufficient to exclude the installation from the category of "properly installed" wiring, whether aluminum or copper. The NEC requires all junctions to be readily accessible.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

Aha, so is removing the cover plate and then removing the switch or outlet from the box is readily accessible, tearing out the wall is where the line is drawn.
I sure wish those boxes were bigger, or at least DEEPER. I recently replaced a ground -fault breaker in a bathroom and it was a PIA.
I'm willing to bet that the number of homes that get that inspection ever, let alone periodically, is about nil.
In an earlier article (not sure if its part of this thread or an earlier discussion, someone suggested that for copper wire it was better to terminate it on the screw, rather than using the clamp. I assume he was referring to switches and outlets. I find that to be well-nigh impossible with #12. Is it acceptable to use crimped lugs, with two lugs on the same screw? Or is there really no problem with what Leviton calls 'back' connections?
I emailed Houston Wire to tell them about the error in their webpages. Thanks for checking.
--

FF


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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

Yep.
You can get deeper/bigger boxes, but they cost a lot more--far out of proportion to the size increase.
Chris
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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

Absolutely.
Something to the effect of "without removing or damaging the structure or finish of the building" is where the line is drawn. Tearing out the wall would fall under that heading, but so would removing a piece of molding.

I assume you mean a GFCI *outlet*... Deeper boxes do exist, and they're frequently used in new construction, particularly where GFCIs are required.

I won't take that bet. :-)

True. It's *much* more secure.
Note that for aluminum wire, the clamp isn't even an option: you *must* use the screw.

Why? It's not that hard to bend a hook on the end of a #12 copper wire. Grab it with the tip of a needlenose pliers and twist. Or use an electrician's stripper-crimper tool (e.g. Gardner-Bender GS-70) -- most have a hole about 1/8" in diameter in one of the jaws, specifically for making such hooks. Stick the wire through the hole, twist the tool 180 degrees, and voila! a perfect hook.

Yes, if the lugs are rated for 120V *and* the device is rated for two lugs. Of course, you could use one wire in a lug as a pigtail, and wire-nut it to as many other wires as needed.

Yes, there really is a problem -- they're not nearly as secure as originally believed. In fact, they're no longer listed for use with 14ga wire specifically because of that. They don't always grab 12ga as tightly as they should. Better to avoid them altogether, and just use the screws.

No prob.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:
...

...
But (and I am asking this mostly for the lurkers) surely only with a proper (rated for aluminum) terminator on the wire. You are NOT allowed to use bare aluminum wire under a brass screw, that is a sure fire (no pun intended) recipe for disaster, right?

OK that'd work but then the heads of the screws would stand proud and the fixture would not fit back in the box. The GFCI (thank you) protects two 'downstream' circuits. Looks like one of those larger boxes is called for. And for a fumble fingers like myself, lugs.

When I rewire my home, which is currently a bastard mix of romex and knob and tube, I intend, wherever possible, to avoid both 'pass through' and splices behind the outlets, feeding them from separate junction boxes in the attic or crawlspace.
It is downright scary to discover that turning the lights on in my dining room causes an (unused) upstairs bedroom outlet to become hot to the touch.
But, as Mr Hodgett so diplomatically suggests, I've a lot to learn first.
--

FF


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snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

Bare aluminum wire can be attached to any screw terminal that is rated for aluminum wire. What that consists of specifically, I don't know. I don't seem to have any CO/ALR-rated devices around; all my spares look to be Cu-only.

Well, yes -- by the thickness of the wire. Big deal.

Of course it will; what are you talking about? Electricians do this all the time. A standard receptacle box is 2" wide, and a 120V receptacle with wires attached to screw terminals on each side is only about 1 3/8" outside dimension from screw head to screw head.

No, it doesn't.
Quite possibly it does protect two downstream *outlets*. <g>

Just attach the wires to the screw terminals. It's easier and neater. [...]

Do yourself a favor and get a book or two on residential wiring from the library or from the Borg before you start.

I think I'd replace that outlet today -- and install the new one with pigtails.

It appears he may be right -- but it's not rocket science, either. You can learn nearly everything you need to know by reading, and by asking questions of those who know what they're doing. If you've ever followed other threads on the Wreck dealing with electrical wiring, you probably have a sense of whose advice you can trust [*], whose you should take with a grain of salt, and whose you should disregard altogether.
[*] I'd place LRod in that category, and, if I might be so immodest, myself. (I'm sure there are others here, too, and I don't mean to offend anyone whom I have inadvertently failed to mention.) People that LRod and I have disagreed with (or made sport of!) over electrical issues probably belong in one of the latter two categories.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

Maybe the wrong box was used.

Light switches and lighting fixtures. It is unlikely that someone will leave the switch on and stick their finger in the socket while changing the light bulb while taking a shower but why take chances. ;-)

Guaranteed. I'll also have to take a test to do it legally in my county. From what I've seen of the existing wiring, either the test is less than thorough or a lot wiring has been done illegally. I lived in an apartment that had light switches wired in series (not either/or, series) and a breaker panel that dangled from one screw. Plus the painters didn't bother masking off the outlets, they just painted over them so I had to dig the paint out before plugging anything in.

If it were rocket science, it'd be easier.
...

Damn straight, that's why I asked you.
--

FF


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