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Old 10-16-2010, 11:47 PM   #1
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Help with electrical outlets?


Hi,

I am new here and am learning so much! Thanks to everyone for all your contributions.

Hopefully someone can help me with a problem I am having with the outlets in my mobile home. I have just bought an '85 doublewide, and I'm about to do a lot of remodeling, as much by myself as possible and some with a contractor's help. One thing I want to do is upgrade all the outlets so that it is up to current code.

I have the type of outlet where it is all one piece and the wires are pierced instead of wrapped. I have been researching this for hours and have read plenty of descriptions for how to replace them with modern outlets, and I even went to Lowe's and bought the "old-work", shallow boxes that the salesman said I needed, along with the actual receptacles. Problem is, I can't figure out how to get the wiring out of the old box (I pull and nothing happens), and I don't see how the wires are supposed to go into the new box (the back of it is solid plastic?!).

Do I just cut the wires at the point before they enter the old box? And then strip the insulation? Or is there some trick to getting them OUT of the old box?

And maybe I am blind but I swear I do not see how on earth the wires go into the new box. I don't have a pic of the new box tonight but I can post one tomorrow.

Help?
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Old 10-17-2010, 12:08 AM   #2
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Help with electrical outlets?


I had to deal with those in my old trailer, it looks like you're lucky to have enough wire to work with.

First, regarding the old-work boxes, they should have plastic tabs in the corners where the cables can be pushed through into the box.

So do this: On the old outlet, just cut the cables right where they enter the outlet. Then strip back about 6" of the cable sheath, being careful not to nick the wires.

Now push both cables through into the new box, so that the plastic tabs are holding on to the cable sheath. About 1/4" of the sheath should be inside the box. Secure the box into the hole in the wall by tightening the screws.

Then, strip the wires about 3/4". Wrap both black wires around the brass screws on one side of the new outlet, and both white wires around the silver screws on the other side.

For the bare ground wires, you will need a short piece of bare copper wire the same size as what's in the cables, and a wirenut. Wirenut the two ground wires together with the short piece, and attach the end of that piece to the green ground screw on the new outlet.

Also, and very important: Is that actually copper wire you have there, or aluminum? I've never seen cable with a black jacket like that before. If it's aluminum, that changes things a little bit.

Last edited by McSteve; 10-17-2010 at 12:10 AM. Reason: Note about aluminum
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:10 AM   #3
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Help with electrical outlets?


Black-jacketed type NM cable was quite common in the mid-1980's. Aluminum romex was discontinued 10 years prior to that.
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:14 AM   #4
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Thanks, that was a very clear explanation. Except, I am pretty sure the backs of the old-work boxes don't have any tabs. I will have to look again tomorrow. It's late, I'm braindead!

Also, the outlet in the pic does have a lot of wire but many of the outlets barely come out of the wall. I read somewhere about, umm....aww crap what was it called? Some kind of extender?

So anyway, I think I got it for the outlets that have enough wire to work with. Tell me if I have this right:
1)Cut the sheath just before it enters the outlet.
2)Strip 6" of the sheath and push it through the tabs, with 1/4" of the sheath actually inside the box.
3)Screw the box into the wall.
4)Strip 3/4" of wire insulation, being careful not to gouge the wire (because this can lead to corrosion over time, no?).
5)Wrap black (hot?) wires around the brass screws, and white (neutral?) wires around the silver screws.

And then you went way over my head talking about wirenuts, lol. I had to go Google it and I found a Youtube video about wire nuts, and BTW, the guy in the vid shows very nicely the proper way to strip a wire. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGJtmNgCWaY&feature=related Can you tell me if this video is accurate?

So anyway, now I need to find some extra copper wiring? If I understand you correctly, I need a third piece of copper wire? And I'll attach all three pieces with a wirenut, and the third piece will be sticking out of the wirenut and I wrap that around the green screw?

OK, this doesn't sound hard at all. And you asked if it is actually copper wire. I can't tell from any of my pics, and I didn't look at it that closely, but I understand that all mobile homes made after, what, '76 (or '79?), used copper wiring? So I assume it is copper. Will double-check tomorrow.

Thanks!
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:28 AM   #5
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Help with electrical outlets?


He got off on a tangent at the end, trying to explain how to deal with a multi-wire circuit. Too confusing, IMO.

You only need to be concerned with the wire-nuts and pigtailing of the bare wires in your situation on most of your outlets. This is because the receptacle outlets only have one green terminal for the grounding conductors, while they have 2 terminals each for the current-carrying circuit conductors.

To remove the wires from the old devices, you have to pull them up and away at a right angle from the device. If you have the available slack, I'd recommend you simply cut them, instead of trying to re-use the ends that were stabbed into the non-box devices.
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:57 AM   #6
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Yeah, he lost me at the end, but up to about the 3:45 point it was pretty good because I could actually see what he was doing. So many videos I have watched trying to learn this stuff, and usually the camera is zoomed out so far that I can't see what they are working on or how to do what they are doing.

Do you know what the "extender" is that I mentioned earlier? I know that's not the right word, but I saw mention of it somewhere; basically it's for when you don't have enough wire to work with and it gives you extra wire, I think? Somebody please tell me what I'm talking about, lol!
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:39 AM   #7
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Help with electrical outlets?


There is couple specal old work box I used in narrow wall cavity like in some Mobile home and some basement work I have used in there.

I used this term very loosely what I called " Pregant old work box " so please excuse this term so here the photo what I am describing so just don't yell at my ear at the moment



That what I used pretty often and not all big box store will stock this item but it nice for narrow walls cavity which I have ran into.

Good thing you have some slack on the cable most mobile homes I have ran into don't have super long slack on it.

Hope that help you the idea what the style of old work box look like and if your wall is pretty deep you can use the standard old work box but DO NOT use the Low Voltage old work box due they are open on the back.

Kbsparky have good details on that part and he is correct and I do the excat the same way it much quicker to snip it off and strip it out so you have nice part to work on it.

Merci.
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Old 10-17-2010, 09:09 AM   #8
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Help with electrical outlets?


This box posted above is likely the only one that may have enough room to contain the number of wires and receptacles, except for a full size old work box.
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:43 PM   #9
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OK, here are some more pics. The first one shows the back of the old-work box which is definitely solid and which is why I was so confused to think that the wires could go through it. Then I went back and looked at it and saw the tabs on the top and bottom. I bent back the tabs with a big screwdriver, cut the sheath with a monster cutter-thingie (somebody tell me what that tool is called, lol ---- ok, I googled it, is it a cable cutter?), and I poked it through the tab.

So now I need to know what tool I need to cut the sheath to get at the wires. And I still need to know what the thing is that extends the wires so that I can get enough length because most of the outlets in the house barely come out of the wall.

Also, I take it that one of the 2 sheaths goes in one tab and the other sheath goes in the other tab? Doesn't matter which one goes in which tab, right?

And I need to enlarge the opening in the wall; do I use a reciprocating saw for that? I also need to cut some holes in some OSB flooring (for the floor vents) and I think I need a reciprocating saw for that as well. Is there a certain size or type that will handle both jobs?

Thanks for all the advice, you guys are so helpful!
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:58 PM   #10
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Help with electrical outlets?


That box is real shallow, and it might get cramped in there. Use a deeper box IF it will fit into your wall cavity.

The tool you have there is for cutting PVC pipe. While it may cut wire initially, using it for that purpose will eventually nick the blade, and render it useless.

See if you can find a pair of wire cutters, such as linesman's pliers or diagonals. Even wire strippers should have a solid cutting edge for such use.
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:05 PM   #11
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Help with electrical outlets?


That box looks like it only has 8 cubic inch capacity. Two 14-2 cables plus a receptacle and a ground wire would require a minimum capacity of 14 cubic inches. That box is too small if my guess on the size is correct.

Given the amount of cable you are showing in the pics you will not have the required amount of free conductor in the box either.

I would stop until a better plan can be given.
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:11 PM   #12
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Yeah, you're going to need a deeper box. If you have enough space in the wall for a regular sized old-work box, get some. Otherwise you'll probably have to track down some of the boxes that frenchelectrician showed you.

As far as extending the cables where they're too short, that's gonna be a tricky one. You can't splice wires together inside the wall; splices need to be made in an accessible junction box.

Folks, since this actually is a manufactured home, could this be a legitimate application for those connectors that are supposedly listed for hidden splices? Anyone know what I'm talking about? The name escapes me at the moment.
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:53 PM   #13
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OK, I've got linesman's pliers on my Lowe's list.

The wall cavity is 1 and 1/2" deep. The box IS 8 cu. in. The sheath on the cable will be stripped, will that help as far as having enough room? Will a 14 cu. in. box fit in 1 and 1/2"?

Here's the site that Frenchelectrician got that pic from but it is only a pic at that address; I can't actually find it anywhere else on the site to get any info or to order it.
http://images.drillspot.com/pimages/2641/264114_300.jpg



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Old 10-17-2010, 04:12 PM   #14
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What about these for getting the extra length I need?
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Old 10-17-2010, 04:20 PM   #15
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Ah yep, those are the gadgets I was thinking about. I'm deferring to the more experienced electrical folks here as to whether they can be used in this situation.

The alternatives are going to be running a new, longer cable from wherever the cable comes from, or cutting in another junction box with a blank cover to hold the splices.
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