No real problem here, just some inneresting stuff, a general Q.
Of course, the wiring is old, cloth covered, but in BX, and super-high
quality. The wire seems to be nickel or silver coated/tinned -- not just
ends, but the whole wire. Curious as to what the purpose of that coating
And today, in 2009, the cloth is STILL supple!!
The wire appears to be only 14 ga, but still more than ample for 15 A, AND
each splice is wire nutted AND soldered!!
Imho, soldering adds a big safety factor to the splicing process, and I'm
surprised they dispensed with the requirement -- esp. in a union trade,
where the slower the better.
Most peculiar, tho, is the "circuitry strategy", which seems to be a kind of
statistical shotgun approach, where one room is not wired on one or two or
three breakers, but rather randomly throughout the house. So if a breaker
trips, 4 different locations could be affected, all over the house. Really
a pita, but it is what it is. Fortunately, there are many many circuits --
Curious if other people in older houses have this wiring strategy. I don't
think it's easily solvable.
The electrical wisdom seems to be, leave the old as is, just add new as you
need it -- appliances, A/C, etc.
The Q is, to go through the trouble to run the new in the walls (a real
pita), or use wire-mold?
I like to wire lighting circuits on separate breakers from outlets. Then if
an outlet breaker trips, you still have lights to see!
And I like to wire each room's outlets on its own breaker. Much easier for
troubleshooting and labeling of the breakers.
As to rewiring, if you are going to live there the rest of your life, I
would run the wiring in the walls. Looks much nicer. Electricians know how
to do this. You can always just do one room at a time.
"Existential Angst" wrote in message
On Mon, 26 Oct 2009 15:02:23 -0400, "Existential Angst"
Yep, that is quite common even up to the early Romex. A lot of
neophyte home inspectors report it as cloth covered aluminum wire. We
all get a chuckle out of that.
BTW they usually dipped those connections in a pot of molten solder.
The solder itself came in bars, not rolled up as wire.
In the "good old days" soldering irons were probably heated with a blow
torch. Makes a solder pot sound real good.
I think I read that tinning also protected the copper from rubber
insulation, which could deteriorate it.
On 10/26/2009 11:02 AM Existential Angst spake thus:
One would still need to use flux (most likely rosin, as in rosin-core
solder), but the tinning would prevent corrosion to some extent, plus
make soldering easier.
At least that's my understanding ...
By the way, I'm glad you expressed your appreciation of this antiquated
wiring, which is often in much better condition than people give it
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism
Yeah, that wiring and the brass plumbing was a big part of the decision to
That and the incredible attic ladder -- I figgered anyone who took the
trouble to install *that* quality ladder in a g-d attic had to have done the
rest of the house right. I was mostly right. :)
I once expressed the opinion that some significant percentage of electrical
fires *must* be due to wire nuts, because cross-sectional area of electron
flow is greatly reduced, even on a properly twisted/nutted joint, while
solder virtually completely eleminates this conductive bottleneck.
Ditto the spring-type clips on the backs of some outlets (which spell
disaster, imo, having seen a number of these melt out). Wire nuts present
the same problem, just not as egregious as these spring-contact outlets.
I was, however, sort of shouted down, but I still don't see wire nuts as
anywhere near as effective or safe as soldering.
The bottom line would be, I guess, to do IR drop samplings, under increasing
I, see what happens. Or measure temps at the wire nut joint under high I,
of various quality splices.
I believe it is NEC code that no wire-nutted joint -- and perhaps no joint
at all -- can exist without access to it in some kind of box/panel. It was
a NYC code.
I don't believe there has ever been any issue with the integrity of wire nut
splices. The real danger, and the reason that William Marr invented the wire
nut in 1914, was tripping around people's houses with a hot pot of lead,
while trying to dip the splices.
The particular type of cable you have will last and remain in good condition
provided it doesn't get overheated and dried out. Where you have it in
ceiling lighting outlets, where very high wattage lamps were installed close
to ceiling, is where it degrades especially badly.
On Mon, 26 Oct 2009 16:47:00 -0400, Existential Angst wrote:
Sounds like we have similar wiring in our place (late 40s build) - the
problem I've found is generally in the light fittings, where years of heat
from bulbs has slowly cooked things and it's all turned a bit brittle
(fittings which take multiple bulbs being the worst). Cut further back
and it's stood the test of time pretty well.
Our place is interesting - it was all built by the old lady who used to
own it, and it seems like she did a piece here and a piece there as and
when she felt like it. Some of it's done extremely well, but then there
are other bits where corners were obviously cut...
Y'know, I was amazed the first time I visited the US and discovered that
typical wiring was held together with those things - I'd done plenty of
wiring overseas and it was always with junction boxes / fittings that had
proper insulated screw terminals inside. Using a wire nut would be a
hanging offense ;-)
I've heard that soldered connections can melt if there's a serious
overload - but by that point there are probably other things to be
worrying about anyway. :-)
No problem with 'wire nuts' (i.e. wire connectors) since 1956 when I
arrived in North America. tree residences since then two of which we
built and wired ourselves. Like everything else if they are used
properly no problems at all. There are an estimated at least one
hundred or so in this typical all-electric house built in 1970 (some
inside the connection space of baseboard electric heaters) and we have
had no problems with overheating or bad connections on both lighting
circuits (15 amp maximum) or duplex outlets circuits (20 amp). And in
one case with a three wire heavier connection from the main panel to a
secondary (pony) one.
One UK style wiring item do not miss is those fiddly (silly) little
brass screws in so-called 'chocolate blocks' and/or certain lamp
holders' often made of brass, a soft metal! Easy to strip or mar the
small screw head (or drop one!); they require an additional small
'straight blade' screwdriver. Whereas much Canadian wiring can be done
with one #2 Robertson (square) screwdriver and a pair of pliers.
Ring main circuits while maybe a good idea are either very uncommon or
not used at all.
Having got used to it rather like the 115 - 0 - 115 volt single phase
domestic service. Although if/when encounters a 3 kilowatt electric
kettle it is till abit of a surprise how quilckly it boils. But how
much boiling water does one need to make one pot of tea anyway!
Including 'heating the pot'!
Also and not as one would suspect aerial service of both 13KV primary
lines and secondary 115/230 volt wires from pole mounted transformers
to homes results in very fast restore times. Our local utility company
line crews are excellent. Seen them change out a transformer in the
middle of a snow storm, at night, in a couple of hours from the time
the 'Power has gone off" telephone call had been made.
Yes 'tinned' copper wire is easier to solder; and sometimes used in
electronics and marine environments for that reason and to resist
I've had a few in our place that have been bad, but then maybe they were
never fitted properly when first installed - some of the wiring in our
place is very good, but some of it's a bit of a mess :-)
Yeah, I hear ya there. The ones used in "proper" fittings are robust
enough (equivalent in strength to the terminals on US electrical outlets)
but cheap lamps etc. can still have those and they're just nasty.
Seems so. Although it is more hassle to set up, and I'm never quite
convinced of the loading benefits given that the ring could fail yet still
appear to work; at least with a radial system if a connection goes bad
it's pretty obvious that it's done so.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_circuit for the curious)
:-) Not having 240V everywhere is one of those things that's taking some
getting used to for me. Plus I've got various 240V things I want to ship
over sometime, and it's going to be interesting planning all the
necessary wiring (most of it's stuff that can live in the 'shop or
basement, so thankfully I don't need to completely rewire the house or
I've not seen much of that here (yet) but I've certainly been impressed
with how few power cuts & brownouts we've had - everywhere else I've
been in the world cuts have been quite frequent and could easily last
a few hours.
That was VERY inneresting!!!
Am I correct in observing that the diagram shows two "radial" connections to
It took me a while to grok the "point" of the schematic, and when I did, it
left me with a very big Q:
How does a ring circuit SAVE copper? ?
Yeah, I can see how you can use thinner gauge wire, but now you have to use
twice as much of it!
Current capacity (density) is directly proportional to cross-sectional
area, so it seems to me this system is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other,
mass-wise in copper.
The article pointed out some potent disadvantages, as well -- somewhat
Interestingly, NYC still has DC running to some older commercial buildings!
And, NYC's 3 phase is 208, not 220 or 240 V, like most of the rest of the
country -- 208 is EXACTLY the rms voltage difference between two 120 V sine
waves 120 deg out of phase, making it, I think, the "purest" type of 3
Just across any city line, and yer up to 240 -- which bleeve me wreaks a lot
of havoc, machine-wise.
But, I thought Europe was all 220, ie, two hot legs, residentially??
I think 220-240V is a **much better** system than single hot leg 120, as it
is *inherently* balanced, and you don't have to worry about neutrals and
grounds as much -- precisely because of this balance. AND, with lower I^2R
losses, esp. when you consider that many grounds are really crappy, often
using steel cables instead of copper.
g-dAmerica never quite gets it right, unless it comes to fleecing their
public. Who needs a junta or a dictatorship when you have a Congress
blowing Wall Street, using the Media as a condom??
Altho amazingly our vitamins are a lot more available, fwiu. Whazzup wit
dat, over there???
> >> Having got used to it rather like the 115 - 0 - 115 volt single phase
Here, the neutral AND ground wires in house cable are copper, but I was
talking about from the weatherhead of the house out to the pole -- the house
copper is attached to stranded steel support cable -- at least in my neck of
the woods in NY. And then, from the pole to whereever, I don't know what
the ground/neutral is, but I suspect it continues as the steel tension cable
for the other hot copper wires.
I've asked linemen, but these guys don't know -- I get a different answer
with each guy I ask.
In "your" neck of the woods, in NY, you'd be pretty hard pressed to find a
copper service entrance cable, conductors in conduit, yes, but cable no, not
in the last thirty some odd years, and a ConEd service drop is aluminum,
except for a steel strand in the bare messenger.
On Tue, 27 Oct 2009 17:38:08 -0400, "Existential Angst"
I gave you the answer. The aerial drop triplex is alloy 1350 aluminum
... all 3 wires, along with virtually all aerial cable.
That is what the alloy was designed for.
It is also used in some aircraft construction.
On Wed, 28 Oct 2009 12:08:17 -0400, "Existential Angst"
I am not sure what 6061 is but the 1350 is 99.5% aluminum.
According to table 8 in the NEC the resistance for #2 (typical
residential service drop up to 200a) is
.194 ohms per 1000 ft copper
.319 ohms per 1000 ft aluminum
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.