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Thread: Black Wiring

  1. #1
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    Question Black Wiring

    I assume this is caused by high moisture levels in the basement where the panels were located, but I have never seen so many black copper wires in a panel before.
    Any thoughts?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    This has been discussed here before and it is sometimes caused by storage of chemicals near the panel. That would be likely in a basement.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Is this a main panel or subpanel? Id guess subpanel by the number of circuits and 4 wire feed, however you have a bonding jumper from the neutral bar to the ground bar.


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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Chinese drywall?


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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Yes it is caused by a chemical, most likely contaminated (Chinese) drywall.
    I think it was used around 2000.
    Lots of info on the web on how to determine if it is.
    Added in edit
    I see you are in Indiana.
    Contaminated drywall was more of a problem in the Gulf coast states.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Rick, John, Jack,
    I thought of the Chinese drywall but I don't believe we have had much of that here, at least whjat I have run across. This is the first time I have seen it blackened like that though.

    It is in a 100 yr old farmhouse with a basement so I thought maybe some type of chemical reaction to something stored there but does not appear to be recent from what was there. Unless they it is a reaction to powder post beetles because they had a field day with this home.

    MBrooke,
    Yes the disconnect is outside and it is a sub panel. Two actually, this one had a 4 wire service that had the bonding jumper stil attached while the other had a 3 wire service and no isolation of the neutrals.

    Thanks for the input.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    As others have stated, some corrosive chemicals have been used, stored, spilled or something in the vicinity of that box. That condition could be many years old.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Black patina is usually caused by sulfur which reacts with the copper causing it to oxidize. Any sulfur water at the property?

    I don't think it is problematic drywall simply because the other pieces of metal in the panel are not corroding. The chemicals found in Chinese corrode almost any metal in the home, not just copper.

    The black oxidation really does not cause much of a issue when it is all said and done.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Black patina is usually caused by sulfur which reacts with the copper causing it to oxidize. Any sulfur water at the property?

    I don't think it is problematic drywall simply because the other pieces of metal in the panel are not corroding. The chemicals found in Chinese corrode almost any metal in the home, not just copper.

    The black oxidation really does not cause much of a issue when it is all said and done.
    Thanks for the input Scott.
    This basement was an active water source between the failed foundation walls and poor water control on the outside. I could tell they had a moisture intrusion issues by the size of the floor squeegee seen when I opened the basement door.
    Hard to determine the presence of sulfur but it would be difficult to determine what has been stored in this basement over the years.
    I am in agreement that I ruled out the chinese drywall because none of the other metals inside the panel or elsewhere in the basement were affected this way.
    It used to be an active farm operation now just horses.

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  10. #10

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    There is another possibility. Bad ground or grounding loose. Did you open any receptacles or switch boxes above. If it is there too, you have a problem. Reactive drywall or bad ground then as that would rule out chemical in the basement or moisture alone. Moisture generally will have a green patina mixed with black and I do not see the green blue hues.

    The copper crimps on that Pex and or any copper piping should also be black if it is chemical or moisture as it would also be affected. If not affected that would rule out chemical or moisture.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    It may not be contaminated drywall. Check other metals in the home including the evaporator coil and refrigerator coil, the washer connections, the other exposed copper in the home. Contaminated drywall with corrode many metals(brass not as much as copper). The coil typically needs to be replaced and will be black, exposed wires(copper) in the air handler/heater may show signs also. It can come from chemicals or sulfur in the water supply. I hope this helps

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  12. #12

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    I have found many bad grounds before in homes. High acid soils which require multiple rods, loose ground rod connections, loose ground and neutral connections, all can cause this.

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    I have found many bad grounds before in homes. High acid soils which require multiple rods, loose ground rod connections, loose ground and neutral connections, all can cause this.
    Yes, acidic and alkaline (just as bad as acidic) soil is fairly common in coastal areas and many western states but not so much in the Ohio Valley, Midwest and Northern parts of the country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    I have found many bad grounds before in homes. High acid soils which require multiple rods, loose ground rod connections, loose ground and neutral connections, all can cause this.
    Yes, acidic and alkaline (just as bad as acidic) soil is fairly common in coastal areas and many western states but not so much in the Ohio Valley, Midwest and Northern parts of the country.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Yes, acidic and alkaline (just as bad as acidic) soil is fairly common in coastal areas and many western states but not so much in the Ohio Valley, Midwest and Northern parts of the country.
    Agreed, but that does not rule out loose connections or conductors.

    If I was doing the inspection I would have went to the furthest away receptacle and checked the conductors there, in a place known to be dry and no chemical storage to rule them out. Then I would have it narrowed down to two possible causes.

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    There is another possibility. Bad ground or grounding loose. Did you open any receptacles or switch boxes above. If it is there too, you have a problem. Reactive drywall or bad ground then as that would rule out chemical in the basement or moisture alone. Moisture generally will have a green patina mixed with black and I do not see the green blue hues.

    The copper crimps on that Pex and or any copper piping should also be black if it is chemical or moisture as it would also be affected. If not affected that would rule out chemical or moisture.
    I thought of that and actually commented in their report to have a licensed electrician check the quality of the ground. There is an outside disconnect with four panel disconnects in it for the house (2) and the outbuildings subpanels.(2) The ground wire/rod was buried in the ground and the balmy temps of -4 was not cooperating with my willingness to dig.I did not notice the black wires in the outbuildings but they all have separate ground rods attached to them.
    I did not notice unusual coloring to the pex fittings; didn;t look too close at them as many of them are black to start with in this area; but it was limited to the jet pump area while the rest of the house was cpvc.
    Good call.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    There is another possibility. Bad ground or grounding loose. Did you open any receptacles or switch boxes above. If it is there too, you have a problem. Reactive drywall or bad ground then as that would rule out chemical in the basement or moisture alone. Moisture generally will have a green patina mixed with black and I do not see the green blue hues.

    The copper crimps on that Pex and or any copper piping should also be black if it is chemical or moisture as it would also be affected. If not affected that would rule out chemical or moisture.
    I thought of that and actually commented in their report to have a licensed electrician check the quality of the ground. There is an outside disconnect with four panel disconnects in it for the house (2) and the outbuildings subpanels.(2) The ground wire/rod was buried in the ground and the balmy temps of -4 was not cooperating with my willingness to dig.I did not notice the black wires in the outbuildings but they all have separate ground rods attached to them.
    I did not notice unusual coloring to the pex fittings; didn;t look too close at them as many of them are black to start with in this area; but it was limited to the jet pump area while the rest of the house was cpvc.
    Good call.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    JeffGHooper,

    I thought of that and actually commented in their report to have a licensed electrician check the quality of the ground. There is an outside disconnect with four panel disconnects in it for the house (2) and the outbuildings subpanels.(2) The ground wire/rod was buried in the ground and the balmy temps of -4 was not cooperating with my willingness to dig.I did not notice the black wires in the outbuildings but they all have separate ground rods attached to them.
    I did not notice unusual coloring to the pex fittings; didn;t look too close at them as many of them are black to start with in this area; but it was limited to the jet pump area while the rest of the house was cpvc.
    Good call.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Gainey View Post
    JeffGHooper,

    I thought of that and actually commented in their report to have a licensed electrician check the quality of the ground. There is an outside disconnect with four panel disconnects in it for the house (2) and the outbuildings subpanels.(2) The ground wire/rod was buried in the ground and the balmy temps of -4 was not cooperating with my willingness to dig.I did not notice the black wires in the outbuildings but they all have separate ground rods attached to them.
    I did not notice unusual coloring to the pex fittings; didn;t look too close at them as many of them are black to start with in this area; but it was limited to the jet pump area while the rest of the house was cpvc.
    Good call.
    Sorry for the double posts. I keep getting an error message and didn't know it went through. Or.. I repeat myself alot...I repeat myself alot....


  17. #17
    Glynn Penn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Has there been any drywall repair in recent years, if so could be Chinese drywall ?

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    Has there been any drywall repair in recent years, if so could be Chinese drywall ?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Has there been any drywall repair in recent years, if so could be Chinese drywall ?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Has there been any drywall repair in recent years, if so could be Chinese drywall ?


  18. #18

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    [QUOTE=Glynn Penn;254556]Has there been any drywall repair in recent years, if so could be Chinese drywall ?
    QUOTE]

    We already went there. Oh, and try to call it "Reactive Drywall". Two of the Chinese manufacturers did not have the problem as they used natural gypsum. Only one did, Tianjin.

    A Tampa manufacturer who also uses synthetic gypsum made from coal scrubbing byproducts has the same problem.

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Oh, and try to call it "Reactive Drywall". Two of the Chinese manufacturers did not have the problem as they used natural gypsum. Only one did, Tianjin.

    A Tampa manufacturer who also uses synthetic gypsum made from coal scrubbing byproducts has the same problem.
    I prefer the term "contaminated" drywall. Does not have to be "reactive" with anything, just "contaminated" by something it should not have in it.

    Jeff,

    I'm trying to track down when contaminated drywall first became a reported issue (when the word started getting out about it, not when it was being installed).

    I think I started hearing about it mid-late 2008, but the earliest thing I can find about it is around December 2008, however, "I think" I recall have heard a few rumblings of it a little before that - do you have published references (news articles, etc) of it being reported before then?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Not so much an issue with the conductor as it is with the conductor termination. Either way, I would suggest further inspection by licensed electrician.


  21. #21

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I prefer the term "contaminated" drywall. Does not have to be "reactive" with anything, just "contaminated" by something it should not have in it.

    Jeff,

    I'm trying to track down when contaminated drywall first became a reported issue (when the word started getting out about it, not when it was being installed).

    I think I started hearing about it mid-late 2008, but the earliest thing I can find about it is around December 2008, however, "I think" I recall have heard a few rumblings of it a little before that - do you have published references (news articles, etc) of it being reported before then?
    Will email you my power point I did for ASHI, FABI and NAHI way back when. I had 25 cases in Evergreen alone, and all those Kenco houses down near Weston. I had all the dates and had researched all the sources. I think there were like 29 different manufacturers in the world that had a problem.

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Will email you my power point I did for ASHI, FABI and NAHI way back when. I had 25 cases in Evergreen alone, and all those Kenco houses down near Weston. I had all the dates and had researched all the sources. I think there were like 29 different manufacturers in the world that had a problem.
    Thanks, I'm going to try to answer someone's questions tomorrow when they call me around 2:00 with their attorney on conference call.

    I am trying to remember when it first started to be reported and discussed, that is one of their issues, and, while it may have been installed in some homes as far back as 2001 or 2002, the big wave of installation was 2004 to 2009 even as I recall, and that was after it has started being reported sometime in 2008, I am trying to remember when in 2008.

    This is documentation that we were discussing it by December 2008: http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...e-drywall.html

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Thanks, I'm going to try to answer someone's questions tomorrow when they call me around 2:00 with their attorney on conference call.

    I am trying to remember when it first started to be reported and discussed, that is one of their issues, and, while it may have been installed in some homes as far back as 2001 or 2002, the big wave of installation was 2004 to 2009 even as I recall, and that was after it has started being reported sometime in 2008, I am trying to remember when in 2008.

    This is documentation that we were discussing it by December 2008: http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...e-drywall.html
    Started in 2001. 2004 and 2005 there was a shortage due to the hurricanes. That is when it really was brought in. Still coming 2006 and tapered 2007. Has been tracked to 1997 in small quantities.

    Can find it in all 50 States, even though the southern states got the brunt; however, remember, heat and humidity accelerate the problem. In the states hit by hurricanes you can find it in all age of homes due to repairs. Plus all remodel projects. So to me dates are not real important. In 2012 I found 8 lifts of it stored in a Condo project that had not been completed yet.

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I am trying to remember when it first started to be reported and discussed, ... it has started being reported sometime in 2008, I am trying to remember when in 2008.
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    Started in 2001. 2004 and 2005 there was a shortage due to the hurricanes. That is when it really was brought in. Still coming 2006 and tapered 2007. Has been tracked to 1997 in small quantities.
    .
    .
    So to me dates are not real important.
    The date is important ... the date that it started being reported and we became aware of it is the question I am trying to find the answer too ... not the dates it was being used.

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  25. #25

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The date is important ... the date that it started being reported and we became aware of it is the question I am trying to find the answer too ... not the dates it was being used.
    2008 Is when my docs started and I heard of it which would be consistent with published info.

    From Wiki,

    Discussions began in January 2009 between the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Florida officials. In February 2009, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida sent a letter to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the EPA, asking them to jointly investigate whether the Chinese drywall is toxic, and to determine the extent of potential damage to homes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission launched a formal investigation.

    Sent you about 20 files last night and 2 power points.

    Last edited by JeffGHooper; 02-28-2015 at 09:03 AM.
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    2008 Is when my docs started and I heard of it which would be consistent with published info.
    Got the files, thank you.

    "2008 Is when my docs started and I heard of it ... "

    Same here, I'm just trying to narrow down the "when" in 2008. I know that I knew (I "think I knew") in mid-to-late 2008. And I know (again, "think I know") that I was hearing about it before the end of the year, but ... so far ... I have not found a published article about it before December 2008.

    So I'm trying to find out the "when" it started to be known to us and the public as I recall seeing/reading stuff about it earlier than I have documented so far.

    Anyone know of when we first started hearing about it in the news or in the profession?

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  27. #27

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    My first report dealing with it was September of 2008. So it had to be before then. Sorry cannot be more help.

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused massive shortages of sheetrock, so it was imported from China. It probably took 3 years before the damage started showing up enough to cause an investigation.

    Chinese Drywall Problems: Health Effects and Property Damage from Contaminated Drywall | Nolo.com

    Here is a link to an informative report:

    http://www.drywallsymposium.com/Spea...ole_Gypsum.pdf

    Anytime you have Hydrogen Sulfide the Sulfide Reducing Bacteria can react with it to create this black corrosion. Wells and waterheaters can have Hydrogen Sulphide.


  29. #29

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cook View Post
    Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused massive shortages of sheetrock, so it was imported from China. It probably took 3 years before the damage started showing up enough to cause an investigation.

    Chinese Drywall Problems: Health Effects and Property Damage from Contaminated Drywall | Nolo.com

    Here is a link to an informative report:

    http://www.drywallsymposium.com/Spea...ole_Gypsum.pdf

    Anytime you have Hydrogen Sulfide the Sulfide Reducing Bacteria can react with it to create this black corrosion. Wells and waterheaters can have Hydrogen Sulphide.
    "Sheetrock" never did have it. Along with other brands like "Gold Bond". Sheetrock "brand" thanks you for the advertisement.

    I assume you meant gypsum board, drywall, or wall board?

    Jerry was asking when we as an industry knew about it for a court case. It was a combination of Charlie, Gene, Frances and then Wilma a year later that caused the shortage. The earliest we knew about it was 2008. It was coming into the country in 2001.

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    "Sheetrock" never did have it. Along with other brands like "Gold Bond". Sheetrock "brand" thanks you for the advertisement.

    I assume you meant gypsum board, drywall, or wall board?

    Jerry was asking when we as an industry knew about it for a court case. It was a combination of Charlie, Gene, Frances and then Wilma a year later that caused the shortage. The earliest we knew about it was 2008. It was coming into the country in 2001.
    Obviously you were never a Contractor. They use all four names interchangeably, and it is immaterial to the original poster's question of why the copper was black colored. I was not trying to answer Jerry's question since it was immaterial to the OP's question. The reason many of these sites have four pages of discussions that do not answer the OPs question is because people don't start a new thread. I hope Jerry finds the answer he needs, it just was not part of the OPs question.


  31. #31

    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cook View Post
    Obviously you were never a Contractor. They use all four names interchangeably, and it is immaterial to the original poster's question of why the copper was black colored. I was not trying to answer Jerry's question since it was immaterial to the OP's question. The reason many of these sites have four pages of discussions that do not answer the OPs question is because people don't start a new thread. I hope Jerry finds the answer he needs, it just was not part of the OPs question.
    Oh, Just for 38 years and still am. Including in your area as I was born in Falls City Nebraska. Go to my website and see if you would like.

    Sheetrock is a localism. It is not a construction definition that is recognized by trade professionals, building codes, or CSI. Like Romex, Wonderboard, Kleenex, Popcorn Ceiling and others. Some are localisms, others are branding.

    Rather than take it personally, try to use the technical terms. It will give you more weight and credibility.

    I too used that "incorrect" terminology, until I got burnt in court with an attorney asking me if I was sure it was sheetrock and not USG.

    The OP's question was answered numerous times if you would have read the entire thread!

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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cook View Post
    I*was not trying to answer Jerry's question since it was immaterial to the OP's question. The reason many of these sites have four pages of discussions that do not answer the OPs question is because people don't start a new thread. I hope Jerry finds the answer he needs, it just was not part of the OPs question.
    Scott,

    Even with only 35 posts ... you should know that we have "thread drift" quite often, and have by now also realized that the "thread drift" more often than not results in unexpected knowledge for all.

    Many times the information in the thread drift far surpasses the information asked about in the original posts - frequently leading to information not even contemplated or considered in the original posts.

    Those thread drifts frequently lead to gold mines of information should one only read and consider what is presented or asked.

    It is up to the reader to make use of, or ignore, that information.

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  33. #33
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffGHooper View Post
    There is another possibility. Bad ground or grounding loose. Did you open any receptacles or switch boxes above. If it is there too, you have a problem. Reactive drywall or bad ground then as that would rule out chemical in the basement or moisture alone. Moisture generally will have a green patina mixed with black and I do not see the green blue hues.

    The copper crimps on that Pex and or any copper piping should also be black if it is chemical or moisture as it would also be affected. If not affected that would rule out chemical or moisture.
    I would like to see some data that backs this up. I have worked on many ungrounded systems and grounded systems where the ground had become disconnected years ago, and the wires were not black. Ungrounded, three phase Delta systems were used extensively throughout the US up until the Sixties, and are still installed in smaller numbers today. They do not turn the copper black. Why would the phase wires on a home turn black? Residential A/C units and baseboard heaters do not have a neutral (or ground if their wiring was installed before 1960). Although home wiring had a grounded neutral before 1960, they did not have ground conductors. Grounding the neutral of a transformer gives the system a ground reference. It is not necessary for the system to operate, and is not done in some countries. Yes, it is necessary for the NEC and safety concerns.


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Black Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cook View Post
    Obviously you were never a Contractor. They use all four names interchangeably, and it is immaterial to the original poster's question of why the copper was black colored. I was not trying to answer Jerry's question since it was immaterial to the OP's question. The reason many of these sites have four pages of discussions that do not answer the OPs question is because people don't start a new thread. I hope Jerry finds the answer he needs, it just was not part of the OPs question.

    I read this and literally spit coffee all over my computer....

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