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  1. #1
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    Default Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    What is typically gauge of wire use in the Older Cloth Braid of wire? If you please reply...Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Same as current types of wire use-for-use.

    The gage of the wire hasn't changed, the type of insulation has changed, as has the type of outer covering/sheath has changed.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Wiring is 12-2 or bigger by way it looks an feels. Kinda not easy to work with as if it was 14-2 wire. I just wonder. I thought about checking gauge on pair wire strippers but I haven't yet. Is there good way that I can check wire gauge????? Thanks again for reply you been big help in my journey lol even though you lost your cape and x-ray vision lol


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    You can hold up is small piece of a know wire size next to the one in question.
    I have seen wire size gauges, but never bought one.
    Usually you can tell just by looking at it. Its pretty obvious between 14 - 12 - 10 - 8 sizes.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Rose,

    Another item to check for in that older cloth covered wire is the insulation - is it rubber or thermoplastic? If it is as old as you say, it could be either as that was about the cross-over time period changing from rubber to thermoplastic.

    The rubber insulation will likely be hard and brittle, the thermoplastic will likely be stiff but not brittle. It is rubber insulation the copper is likely "tinned" (solder colored as the wiring was coated "thinned" with what was basically almost solder - that was done to eliminate the chemical reaction between the rubber insulation and the copper conductor). If the insulation is rubber ... the wiring is most likely toast (but not good toast like cinnamon raisin toast) and needs to be replaced.

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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose Hallman View Post
    What is typically gauge of wire use in the Older Cloth Braid of wire? If you please reply...Thanks
    Rose,
    I am more concerned with why you are concerned and inspecting a wire that was installed in accordance with an existing code at the time of installation.

    If there is a problem with the electrical in the property, a licensed electrician (read "professional") rather than an inspector should be inspecting and dictating proper replacement or repair of the affected systems.

    In my experience, as long as the wires have not been handled, devices removed and replaced etc. or wires re-routed etc, the insulators should not have broken or been damaged.

    As an inspector I would only make a written statement (no verbals at all) describing the complaint or visual conditions with a recomendation to hire a licensed electrical contractor for proper evaluation and repair as required.

    If there is a serious concern (fire or electrocution, or even intermittent ground etc), I might also suggest that the circuit be turned off at the breaker until such professional service is performed.

    An inspector should not be concerned with installed to code systems that function properly, unless there is visual evidence that some deficiency exists. Proper referral to professionals is always the answer with immediate safety addressed.

    Dirk


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose Hallman View Post
    What is typically gauge of wire use in the Older Cloth Braid of wire? If you please reply...Thanks
    Also, be careful if you handle rubber covered (cloth braid) wire. In most instances, the circuit has been run above its load rating, causing the wire to run warm for long periods of time. Most older homes were wired with 14 AWG, for lighting and outlets, and mostly, the lights and outlets were on the same circuit. I have seen 15 amp fuses replaced with 20 amp and 30 amp, because multiple appliances pull lots of current (amps). Aging by itself will make the insulation brittle. Running excessive current, exaggerates the degrading of the rubber insulation. In almost all instances in my experience, merely moving the rubber covered wire, will cause the insulation to crack.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Jeanis View Post
    Rose,
    I am more concerned with why you are concerned and inspecting a wire that was installed in accordance with an existing code at the time of installation.
    .
    .
    .

    An inspector should not be concerned with installed to code systems that function properly, unless there is visual evidence that some deficiency exists. Proper referral to professionals is always the answer with immediate safety addressed.
    Dirk,

    I am more concerned with why you are concerned about that and even more concerned about you stating that it "was installed in accordance with an existing code at the time of installation" and "installed to code systems that function properly" as (unless you were there and did more than a typical home inspection) you do not know that the system were, or have ever been installed in accordance with code.

    Your assumption of that causes me to wonder how you word your reports and how you know that the systems you inspect were installed in accordance with code ... just saying ... it is all in how you present your assumption of "what is" and your post is presenting that you assume that "what is" "is correct or was correct" at the time of installation.

    Things NOT being installed correctly at the time of installation are what keep home inspectors busy, so the presumption would be that things very well might not be installed correctly, and that presumption is right much of the time.

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    When looking at older wire with a ground, be away that the ground is typically 1 size smaller than the conductors (for #14, #12, and I think #10).


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose Hallman View Post
    What is typically gauge of wire use in the Older Cloth Braid of wire? If you please reply...Thanks
    The grounding conductors were undersized way back when, but met code for the time.
    Note that what looks like a 10ga sheath is probably a 15ga conductor.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    This is my experience with cloth braid wiring. I had a house in Utah built in the '40s and while I was taking a shower I grabbed a hold of the built-in metal handicapped-accessible grab bars installed on the bath wall. Hmm that's a funny feeling.. zzzzzzttttt! tingle tingle

    I jumped out of the shower fast- and was too afraid even turn off the water after that but did after insulating with a thick towel.

    Turns out the evaporative cooler in the attic water feeder had sprung a leak, and the water trickled down behind the plaster, all down the studs in the wall. That crummy braid wiring ran alongside the studs and the handicapped accessible grab bars were bolted onto the studs. I bought the house years ago before I knew anything about wiring. I am terrified of old wiring and after the electrician showed me those old wires I was surprised the house hadn't burned down.

    My worst phobia came true that day- being shocked in the tub!


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Kristin View Post
    This is my experience with cloth braid wiring. I had a house in Utah built in the '40s and while I was taking a shower I grabbed a hold of the built-in metal handicapped-accessible grab bars installed on the bath wall. Hmm that's a funny feeling.. zzzzzzttttt! tingle tingle

    I jumped out of the shower fast- and was too afraid even turn off the water after that but did after insulating with a thick towel.

    Turns out the evaporative cooler in the attic water feeder had sprung a leak, and the water trickled down behind the plaster, all down the studs in the wall. That crummy braid wiring ran alongside the studs and the handicapped accessible grab bars were bolted onto the studs. I bought the house years ago before I knew anything about wiring. I am terrified of old wiring and after the electrician showed me those old wires I was surprised the house hadn't burned down.

    My worst phobia came true that day- being shocked in the tub!
    Couldn't help myself. Had to chuckle reading this story.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Kristin View Post
    This is my experience with cloth braid wiring. I had a house in Utah built in the '40s and while I was taking a shower I grabbed a hold of the built-in metal handicapped-accessible grab bars installed on the bath wall. Hmm that's a funny feeling.. zzzzzzttttt! tingle tingle
    .
    .
    Turns out the evaporative cooler in the attic water feeder had sprung a leak, and the water trickled down behind the plaster, all down the studs in the wall. That crummy braid wiring ran alongside the studs and the handicapped accessible grab bars were bolted onto the studs. I bought the house years ago before I knew anything about wiring. I am terrified of old wiring and after the electrician showed me those old wires I was surprised the house hadn't burned down.
    Another possibility as to why you got shocked (this goes along with what was found): In your 1940s house the tile walls of the shower would likely have been metal lath with a mud set base for the tile. The grab bar screws penetrated through that metal lath to get into the studs, when everything got wet from the leak the metal lath was energized, the metal lath then energized the screws holding the grab bar, and the screws energized the grab bar.

    You were standing in water on the shower floor, which likely drained through a cast iron drain pipe, the cast iron drain pipe served as a good grounding path from the grab bar but only if something (or someone, you) completed the ground fault path - that is what you did ... you completed the fault path to ground.

    It isn't the cloth braid that causes or allows anything, it is only that the cloth braid typically indicates the conductors are rubber insulated, and rubber insulation deteriorates over time much faster than the modern thermoplastic insulation deteriorates (besides, the rubber insulated wiring is older).

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

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    The grounding conductors were undersized way back when, but met code for the time.
    Note that what looks like a 10ga sheath is probably a 15ga conductor.
    The issue is that in the 40's and 50's and even the early 60's very little electrictiy was being used in homes with regard to utility receptacles. A given house may have had 4 to 6 circuits total other than stove, heat and water etc. A circuit would generally have a few outlets and lights may have been in the same circuit or all lights separate on the same circuit, depending on how it was wired.

    Today we have codes that require receptacle every X feet throughout each room!…In the "old days" a single double outlet in a room with an outlet that was split for the light switch and a utility plug was all that was installed, if that.

    As long as the "old" property has not extended the number of possible devices relative to the circuit capacity there is no real issue. However we must remember devices like toasters and microwaves etc on an old circuit can cause severe issues, especially with circuits that continue to other rooms.

    So advising clients that they must use old wire systems as they were designed and not exceed thier capacity is reasonable (this could be a boiler plate statement for any home actually). This does not mean that an inspector needs to define that limit. That is an electricical contractor's job or an engineer's and beyond the scope of responsibility. Do suggest that refrigerators, and microwaves etc might be better on thier own circuits as currently required and that a contractor's service would be required to make such a change.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Jeanis View Post

    Do suggest that refrigerators, and microwaves etc might be better on thier own circuits as currently required and that a contractor's service would be required to make such a change.
    Refrigerators and countertop microwaves do not rquire their own circuit under the NEC. They can be fed from the 20 amp SABC. An over the range microwave does require a dedicated circuit.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Refrigerators and countertop microwaves do not rquire their own circuit under the NEC. They can be fed from the 20 amp SABC. An over the range microwave does require a dedicated circuit.
    I understand and remember that. I was speaking generically.

    I set a new circuit for my refregerator, another for the disposal/dishwasher and a third for the microwave (not over stove) in my house. If i had my way I would have a circuit for every room separately. Not enough $$ for that. Hell if I could have afforded it I would have pulled extra circuits to say, pull boxes in my attic and had them ready for hookup when needed later.

    I wish I had more service in my detached garage. I have a single circuit and no sub-panel. Not sure if that even met code when installed. Hell I thought the old owner had run extension cords from an old water pump receptacle and plugged into the garage circuits at need. 8 years after I moved in I moved some stuff and found that I had a direct burial wire to a switch that turned off all recpetacles and lights in the garage!. The distance makes it too expensive to give a sub panel. I have added lightening strike protection at the garage switch and at my AC and main panel though. (ligntening capital of the US here).

    Yes, I know. dont say it.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Older Cloth Braid wire in older homes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Refrigerators and countertop microwaves do not rquire their own circuit under the NEC. They can be fed from the 20 amp SABC. An over the range microwave does require a dedicated circuit.
    Seems I recall a manf. requiring a dedicated circuit for their built-in micro..
    So, in that case 'manf spec' would apply. I personally dislike having to write rejections based on such, as the manufacturer is not always....


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