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  1. #1
    John Tullous's Avatar
    John Tullous Guest

    Default Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    I Posted this photo some time back and never really got a solid answer from anybody. A lot of speculation, but I have plenty of that myself. History of this mystery.
    Main House Panel in the two garage- garage is conditioned with an amateur add on branch line from adjacent living room.
    All Copper wires are charred. Nothing Else
    I pulled back the insulation on several neutrals and bright shiny copper was there??? This has to be a chemical/vapor reaction of some kind that only affects copper. Only the Copper was affected- nothing else
    House was a repo. I'm think and leaning heavily towards the idea that this was a METH LAB at one time.

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  2. #2
    Scott Olsen's Avatar
    Scott Olsen Guest

    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Hi John,

    I have not seen anything like that myself. You may be right. Here is a sight published by Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. that may give you some info on meth labs. You may consider contacting them for more info.
    Recognizing a Methlab


  3. #3
    Tim Moreira's Avatar
    Tim Moreira Guest

    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    I agree, I'm thinking Meth lab. If not, someone stored some strong chemicals next to the panel.

    Did the home have a pool?

    Would chlorine vapor have that same effect? Don't know, looks like what ever it was was very strong.


  4. #4
    John Tullous's Avatar
    John Tullous Guest

    Smile Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Nope, there wasn't a pool. And thanks for the tip on the Forenic Lab people will give that a try. thanks again


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    John,

    Did you check any of the outlets to see if the wires are also black? If I remember correctly, Jeff Hoope once said that the outlet wires are black, there is some sort of chemical problem and with wires will need to be replaced. Mabye Jerry or Jeff will read this and expand on it.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Could be caused by a ground or neutral problem.

    Could be caused by an environmental condition, charging batteries, such as for a boat, golf cart, car, etc.

    I doubt it was a meth. lab or something like that.

    I've seen that in the mildest of forms, i.e., just turning purple on a new construction house with the electrical just being used for temporary power and still under construction.

    I've seen it in the worst conditions where the oxidation is falling off and is laying in the bottom of the panel.

    I've also seen it in green instead of purple.

    Typically, the green is chemical, fertilizer, etc., which are stored open in the same room as the electrical equipment. The worst case of green oxidation I saw included everything copper covered with green corrosion (oxidation), including the copper water pipes in the room, the copper finish door knobs and hinges (but only on the storage room side, the garage side copper door knobs and hinges where not affected). And, yeah, there was an old bag of fertilizer which appeared to have fallen off a shelf many years earlier and split open, and was left there for those many years.

    The green oxidation is copper oxidizing.

    The purplish color is sulfur oxidizing the copper, such as from the sulphuric acid in the batteries mentioned.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7

    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by John Tullous View Post
    I Posted this photo some time back and never really got a solid answer from anybody. A lot of speculation, but I have plenty of that myself. History of this mystery.
    Main House Panel in the two garage- garage is conditioned with an amateur add on branch line from adjacent living room.
    All Copper wires are charred. Nothing Else
    I pulled back the insulation on several neutrals and bright shiny copper was there??? This has to be a chemical/vapor reaction of some kind that only affects copper. Only the Copper was affected- nothing else
    House was a repo. I'm think and leaning heavily towards the idea that this was a METH LAB at one time.
    Typical corrosion from sulfur compounds. Sources could be hydrogen sulfide in ground water (gas enters through underground riser supplying panel), Chinese drywall, battery charging nearby, sewer gases. I've seen this many times from all of these possible sources.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by John Tullous View Post
    I Posted this photo some time back and never really got a solid answer from anybody. A lot of speculation, but I have plenty of that myself. History of this mystery.
    Main House Panel in the two garage- garage is conditioned with an amateur add on branch line from adjacent living room.
    All Copper wires are charred. Nothing Else
    I pulled back the insulation on several neutrals and bright shiny copper was there??? This has to be a chemical/vapor reaction of some kind that only affects copper. Only the Copper was affected- nothing else
    House was a repo. I'm think and leaning heavily towards the idea that this was a METH LAB at one time.
    You are only showing the neutral wires. They carry the current. If for some reason like a loose main neutral they were carrying to much current they would char. Were any of the wires on the breakers charred? If not then it wouldn,t seem to be a chemical reaction.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Cramer View Post
    Typical corrosion from sulfur compounds. Sources could be hydrogen sulfide in ground water (gas enters through underground riser supplying panel), Chinese drywall, battery charging nearby, sewer gases. I've seen this many times from all of these possible sources.

    I think Mark has the right track...sulfur off gassing on Chinese made sheetrock that is causing extensive copper damage. One of the symptoms is copper turning black.

    "Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret. " Robert E. Lee

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    The three of you recent posters are debating a six-year old dead thread, discussion from two long-since-gone, former, no-longer-members. Asking qustions of same is pointless.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    The three of you recent posters are debating a six-year old dead thread, discussion from two long-since-gone, former, no-longer-members. Asking qustions of same is pointless.
    Nothing wrong with bringing up old threads, whether by current or former members has no bearing on it, as the information in this thread - and many others - is not specific and only to one single off-the-wall home but is applicable to many homes and is what may be found at on any given day. It is up to Brian to decide what to do with old threads as he chooses.

    Having the old thread brought back up brings the old information back up and saves all from having to re-post all that old information.

    Watson, not sure why you seem to think that you run this forum and should be the one who determines who reads what or how old it is, many old threads which are brought up again end up with additional and good information.

    I, for one, would rather have the old threads brought up than to have you keep trying to tell everyone else what they should do and should not do, but, as I said related to the old threads, it is up to Brian to do with your posts what he chooses.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    The three of you recent posters are debating a six-year old dead thread, discussion from two long-since-gone, former, no-longer-members. Asking qustions of same is pointless.
    Well, I'm glad this one came back up. It saved me a lot time searching this topic.

    Todays inspection almost all of the exposed copper conductors were black. The aluminum wires were not discolored, the interior of the panel was white, no black stains
    The panel is in on exterior wall, no pool chemicals near by, but there was a natural gas charging station on the wall next to the panel.
    I saw the other items noted that could possible cause this, could the NG charging station do the same thing?

    If that or the other items caused this, what is the best repair to recommend?
    Or is it necessary to recommend anything.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harris View Post
    Well, I'm glad this one came back up. It saved me a lot time searching this topic.

    Todays inspection almost all of the exposed copper conductors were black. The aluminum wires were not discolored, the interior of the panel was white, no black stains
    The panel is in on exterior wall, no pool chemicals near by, but there was a natural gas charging station on the wall next to the panel.
    I saw the other items noted that could possible cause this, could the NG charging station do the same thing?

    If that or the other items caused this, what is the best repair to recommend?
    Or is it necessary to recommend anything.
    The high sulfur content of NG can definitely cause this. I would recommend replacement or at least re-termination of the exposed copper. Have you looked in any other J-Boxes in the house?

    "Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret. " Robert E. Lee

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Miller View Post
    The high sulfur content of NG can definitely cause this. I would recommend replacement or at least re-termination of the exposed copper. Have you looked in any other J-Boxes in the house?
    Thanks.
    I did pull an outlet cover that's on the back side of the panel in the garage. No damage to the wires.

    I was thinking the same re: the wires, they will need to pull the meter to replace the leads from the meter to the main breaker, I wanted to make sure it wasn't overkill, since it doesn't appear to be a problem at the connection to the screws.

    I'll let it up to an electrician to decide what needs to be done.

    I was able to rub the black staining on one of the ground wires.
    Yea I know, don't stick your fingers in the panel

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Hello, I have found this at least 10 times in San Diego. It seems to be on newer construction track houses. Every time I have found this I went into the house and pulled a few outlets and found nice clean copper. I have heard many theories as to what caused it. Here is mine: The black copper was found in houses with under ground service to the panel. The black copper is only in the main panel which was installed at the front left or right exterior of the home. I think there is a gas/chemical possibly finding its way up through the electrical conduit that the service is run through which connects to the bottom of the panel. The conduit for the service may be damaged below grade allowing a gas to enter. I called out for further review with a licensed electrician, but this may be a utility company problem.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    I now wonder if it is from high sulfur diesel fumes (ie air pollution) infiltrating the service equipment??

    "Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret. " Robert E. Lee

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by John Tullous View Post
    I Posted this photo some time back and never really got a solid answer from anybody. A lot of speculation, but I have plenty of that myself. History of this mystery.
    Main House Panel in the two garage- garage is conditioned with an amateur add on branch line from adjacent living room.
    All Copper wires are charred. Nothing Else
    I pulled back the insulation on several neutrals and bright shiny copper was there??? This has to be a chemical/vapor reaction of some kind that only affects copper. Only the Copper was affected- nothing else
    House was a repo. I'm think and leaning heavily towards the idea that this was a METH LAB at one time.
    I'm not sure if this will help, but the link below discusses this issue. How about a kennel or darkroom? Pool chemicals?


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    What link Mark?

    The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Charred Copper wires in Main Panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    What link Mark?
    sorry.
    http://static.schneider-electric.us/...0100DB0401.pdf


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