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Thread: OIL IN PANEL

  1. #1
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    Default OIL IN PANEL

    Oil was found to be dripping off the wires.
    it is not dripping from the panel top.
    appears to be coming from the breaker or behind
    New one to me
    Any ideas?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    I have seen this with some MC a few year ago. They use mineral oil to coat the AL sheathing and I think they went berserk at the factory. It was not a one time thing either.

    What kind of cable is it?


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Not coming from cable above, cable was dry.
    Appears to be seeping from the breakers or behind, or something was sprayed on the breaker connection itself


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Would like to see a picture of the top (inside & outside) of the panel.

    Was the cover door or latch mechanism saturated with 3-in-1 oil, sewing mchine oil, etc.?

    WAGs:

    • the 30A conductors for refrigeration compressor in conduit, former leak or entry from above;
    • as mentioned, someone 'got-r-done' pulling conductors through conduit with other than wire pulling compound, such as cooking oil;
    • possible presence of older transformer above (door bell, hvac, tel, etc.) now or formerly which has leaked in the past (usually a "honey" color).
    • I note lower right a few white paint splats - perhaps not the only paint present - could be goof-off or similar remover used;
    • What is above? living space? storage space? kitchen? kitchen exhaust terminal? might be grease from later leaching wall, or former spill from above;
    • Roach or ant bait gell applied somewhere formerly, heat/gravity dripping into panel traveling long conductors.
    Lets see the inside and outside top of panel. Because wiring length is so tight, and excessive exposed conductor at breaker terminals, and only one bend is even slightly bend lower than breaker connection - presume this panel was replaced or worked on by a DIY or handy-type.

    What does your nose tell you? rancid? chemical smell? fuel oil smell? is it pliable? easily wiped off onto white cotton rag? was it sticky or fluid?

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 07-08-2012 at 10:03 AM.

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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    here's more pics
    HG pm'd you my email for larger pics if you like

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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Wayne,

    The last time I did a search for oil on electrical cables, I found out that it was from plasticizers. In order to make plastic (PVC) electrical cable insulation more flexible (bendable) a plasticizer must be added.

    There are a lot of different types of plasticizers like mineral oil, vegetable oil, etc. depending on how it is to be used. Over time, depending on if the wire is exposed or not, and temperature conditions, you may see some oil. From what I can tell it is nothing to become alarmed about.

    You may want to do a search on electrical cable plasticizers and see what pops up.

    Jeff Euriech
    Peoria Arizona


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Not coming from the breakers ( at least the top red one.)
    * upward slope of wire.
    .

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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Good eyes Billy.
    Maybe it's Gator oil


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    .
    Maybe it's Gator oil
    .
    If your not a Gator your just Gator Bait.
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    After staring at this a while to try and see any evidence the oil dripped from above and ran down (doesn't appear to have) I would guess the cover might have been placed on something that had oil on it and transferred it to the wires when reinstalled.

    Any wire used in electrical work is NOT going to drip oil from the insulation as part of a faulty manufacturing process.

    The oil is contamination no matter where it came from and the issue now is if the material will cause the insulation on the wire to deteriorate or if it runs into the breaker terminal if it can seep in and create a high resistance connection or cause breaker issues. At minimum a shot of electrical cleaner or WD-40 (power OFF) is warranted

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    A quick search brought up this article from Square D on oily residue:

    http://static.schneider-electric.us/...0110DB0301.pdf


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Euriech View Post
    A quick search brought up this article from Square D on oily residue:

    http://static.schneider-electric.us/...0110DB0301.pdf
    Jeff,

    Thank you for that link - even they (wire and cable manufacturers) don't know exactly 'why' it happens (other than elevated temperature and humidity) so it is understandable that we'uns don't understand it either .

    I have seen that myself a few times in the past and was never able to figure out/find out what the cause was, now I know (and hope I can remember it). What we need to remember are these parts:
    - Once the plasticizer begins to separate, the process will continue.
    - Wire insulation can become hard and brittle. The purpose of the plasticizer is to keep the insulation flexible.
    - If you suspect that the oily residue is caused by plasticizer separation, contact the wire manufacturer that supplied the wiring to your contractor.
    - Since there is no practical way to inspect the insulators, etc. in the equipment or the internal parts of the components, Schneider Electric recommends that the contaminated parts of the electrical system be replaced.

    I can already hear the responses to this report item: Oily residue on conductors, possibly from conductor insulation as there is no other visible source, if this is from the conductor insulation, it is causing damage to the conductor insulation and the conductors will need to be replaced, being as the oil residue has dripped onto the insulation components in the panel, the panel needs to be replaced.

    Okay, question: 'how much' of the conductors need to be replaced? A) The full length of the conductors? B) The stripped back and exposed length of the conductors within the panel?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Thanks Jeff, Good info, Fortunately the installer left his tag on the panel and I will call him on monday.
    The pdf was sent to my client who I am sure will appreciate the effort on all our parts.
    The panel is in a small mechanical room with high efficiency furnace and water heater.
    No exterior ventilation, and may get very hot in winter months.
    We will see how it plays out.
    OOPs there goes another broker


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Yeah! This is school, right here, Best continuing education I have ever had in 15 years.
    Every other Continuing Ed is the same old crap over and over again.
    This is good stuff!
    Oily wires? Good stuff?
    Man I have to retire!!!
    and move to Tennessee
    yeeeeeehaaa!


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Well, I read the info from Sq D. Apologies Jeff.

    My comments would be along the lines of:

    The wire is rated for 90 Deg C - almost boiling and a temperature that shouldn't be encountered in the panel either often or for extended periods. This sort of infers the situation happens at temps lower than near the limit of the rating.

    If this is in fact going on there should be a recall in effect as the PVC is no longer going to react as it's supposed to in either extreme heat (it's going to get brittle and break up if flexed - a big problem with the older wire types not rated for 90 Deg C) and PVC is used because it doesn't sustain burning - not likely to continue if oil is coming out of the insulation.

    The "electroendosmosis, the process of moving the fluid along between the wire and insllation so it can get out, seems to be a property of DC current. I'm not sure how the process would move the oil to the ends of the wire with AC.

    But, the explanation sounds like some smoke is getting blown somewhere. I'm more than curious why the info comes from an equipment manufacturer than a wire manufacturer.

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post
    I'm more than curious why the info comes from an equipment manufacturer than a wire manufacturer.
    Because the equipment manufacturer gets to say 'If any of that oil gets on any insulating part in our panel ... replace our panel.', what was not said was 'Sales staff are standing by if you call within the next 20 minutes, and if you call within the next 20 minutes, you will also get ... all you have to do is pay separate shipping and handling.'

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    .
    Yeah!
    Man I have to retire!!!
    and move to Tennessee
    yeeeeeehaaa!
    .
    We'uns waiting.
    .

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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Petey if you blow it up you can clearly see it is Copper.
    I mean what kind of cable. NM, MC, AC, etc.


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post

    Any wire used in electrical work is NOT going to drip oil from the insulation as part of a faulty manufacturing process.

    The oil is contamination no matter where it came from and the issue now is if the material will cause the insulation on the wire to deteriorate or if it runs into the breaker terminal if it can seep in and create a high resistance connection or cause breaker issues.
    Then you haven't installed MC cable within the last 10-12 years. I've seen this numerous times, with NO ill effects.

    This happened on one of the jobs I did that required HCF(health care facility) MC cable. That has paper along with the plastic ribbon inside. The paper was SOAKED with mineral oil.


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Then you haven't installed MC cable within the last 10-12 years. I've seen this numerous times, with NO ill effects.

    This happened on one of the jobs I did that required HCF(health care facility) MC cable. That has paper along with the plastic ribbon inside. The paper was SOAKED with mineral oil.
    Well, true enough, I don't install much. But, if you look at the OPs pictures that's NM-B hanging in there. And, if the oil is coming from the insulation on the wire then the insulation is essentially deteriorating. READ THE D@MM PDF link to SQ D. Big difference here between oil added to wire insulation and insulation formula materials separating after installation.

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Did not see any color in the drips. Are you sure it's not water ? That can happen w/ NM cable left out in the elements, ( when the roof isn't on yet ).


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Now try to learn that in School! Thanks also.
    I did now about the lube of the conduit but that is not what you have according to your last picture.
    Pulling lube is not petroleum based, it usually is water based, drys quickly, and tends not to leave a residue. It can freeze, and it is usually clear, although I have seen yellow pulling lube. Will not damage or affect cable jackets. Obviously when it is wet it may conduct electricity, when dry it doesn't.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Then you haven't installed MC cable within the last 10-12 years. I've seen this numerous times, with NO ill effects.

    This happened on one of the jobs I did that required HCF(health care facility) MC cable. That has paper along with the plastic ribbon inside. The paper was SOAKED with mineral oil.
    "with NO ill effects"

    That you were aware of. We now know differently.

    As I try to think back to when I say that same 'oil drops from the wiring' I wonder where, when, and what the insulation may now be like.

    It is possible that the MC cable was stored in a very hot warehouse, in which case the insulation may have begun to chemically break down, which caused the oil you saw. MC cable is not, to my knowledge, made by 'pulling wires into the metal sheath', the metal sheath is spiral wound around the conductors during the manufacturing process, thus no oil would be used inside the metal sheath, which would mean that there should not be any oil inside the MC cable.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Jerry, all I know is that MC cable ALWAYS has a good amount of oil, or some other fluid, on it and sometimes in it. All you have to do is run your hand across a new rolls and your hand comes away black.

    All I can assume is that there was a manufacturing problem that caused an excess amount of oil to be used in the manufacturing process.
    The long term effects? I don't know, nor do I really care at this point. It's not like I can go back and replace it all.
    If someone sometime has a recall I'll deal with it then, and likely get paid for it.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Jerry, all I know is that MC cable ALWAYS has a good amount of oil, or some other fluid, on it and sometimes in it. All you have to do is run your hand across a new rolls and your hand comes away black.

    All I can assume is that there was a manufacturing problem that caused an excess amount of oil to be used in the manufacturing process.
    I would suspect that the oil on the outside of the MC, especially the new rolls of it, was from the oil used forming the spiral wrap around the outside of the conductors. All manufacturing with metal needs to be kept oiled, typically both for lubrication and for cooling of the tools, dies, and the metal itself.

    I would also suspect that such oil would not cause damage to the insulation within the metal outer covering - seems to me that would be one of the first things they would check ... that the manufacturing process and the chemicals (such as the oil) did not have a negative effect on the conductors and their insulation.

    I would not have thought that as much oil as you described would get into the inside of the metal outer covering, but, hey, I've never made the stuff myself, so what do I know?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    If it looks like honey.... check for bees. If it looks like dirty water...

    I'll agree w/J.P. that the equipment manf's would like their equipment replaced when anything is present.
    I believe we will have to see how this one plays out, i.e. litigation or otherwise, before we start shooting from the hip.

    The wire/cable manf's don't seem to concerned at this point, leaving me to believe there hasn't been any problems..... yet?


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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    If it looks like honey.... check for bees. If it looks like dirty water...

    I'll agree w/J.P. that the equipment manf's would like their equipment replaced when anything is present.
    I believe we will have to see how this one plays out, i.e. litigation or otherwise, before we start shooting from the hip.

    The wire/cable manf's don't seem to concerned at this point, leaving me to believe there hasn't been any problems..... yet?
    No bees!
    meter panel horizontally 50 feet away, not from there.
    not water
    I'm also in the "lets see how this plays out" side


  28. #28
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    Default Re: OIL IN PANEL

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Euriech View Post
    A quick search brought up this article from Square D on oily residue:

    http://static.schneider-electric.us/...0110DB0301.pdf
    Great find, Jeff. Thanks

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