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Old 01-28-2013, 10:27 PM   #16
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That does not sound like K&T to me...sounds like the 2-wire stuff in my house....looks like cloth with a 'tar' coating...underneath, a layer of paper and then the 2 insulated wires.

K&T will be 2 separate wires wrapped around knobs and running through tubes.
Alright then, perhaps if the hot and the neutral are both encased, it is primitave 40's-50's early romex, with no ground. We have some of that in our house as well.

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Old 01-28-2013, 11:36 PM   #17
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Alright then, perhaps if the hot and the neutral are both encased, it is primitave 40's-50's early romex, with no ground. We have some of that in our house as well.
Yes, that makes sense, and it appears to be from about that date, the ballasts in the ceiling lamps that were oldest had the date 1953 on them.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:57 PM   #18
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Yes, that makes sense, and it appears to be from about that date, the ballasts in the ceiling lamps that were oldest had the date 1953 on them.
Our electrical is scary. The 'visible' knob and tube has been replaced. There is some of the old, black, ancient romex-type stuff, likely older than the late 1950's grey branded or patterned romex at my fathers house, also with no ground. I think the medium grey romex I described came next, it is the same as the slightly newer stuff that you mentioned; the white possibly vinyl coated romex with patterns in it. We have some of the patterned white romex at our house as well, exactly as you described. Sorry if that was confusing, wish I had pictures of the ancient cloth black romex, or the white or grey romex as well. Too tired to go fetch pictures of the wires in our basement, its almost midnight here in the Eastern time zone.
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:45 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
That does not sound like K&T to me...sounds like the 2-wire stuff in my house....looks like cloth with a 'tar' coating...underneath, a layer of paper and then the 2 insulated wires.

K&T will be 2 separate wires wrapped around knobs and running through tubes.

Here is a photo of the two types of old wire, obviously the lighter colored one is newer, and has a rubber or vinyl coating on the copper, I would guess dates around 1950. The older one clearly is a lot older, and all woven cloth material throughout, and it's crumbly- that's the majority of the stuff that was in the attic and going to the breaker boxes. All of that has been completely disconnected, cut and removed at the box.
There's no more live wiring in the attic other than one newer circuit still connected to two lamps in the very back and the light to the restroom, and that will go away next.

But right now all that old crumbly crap is gone, replaced by properly grounded conduit and modern THHN #12 wire, it's definitely better and safer!

http://imgur.com/Jj1mYtd
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:19 PM   #20
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Here is a photo of the two types of old wire, obviously the lighter colored one is newer, and has a rubber or vinyl coating on the copper, I would guess dates around 1950. The older one clearly is a lot older, and all woven cloth material throughout, and it's crumbly- that's the majority of the stuff that was in the attic and going to the breaker boxes. All of that has been completely disconnected, cut and removed at the box.
There's no more live wiring in the attic other than one newer circuit still connected to two lamps in the very back and the light to the restroom, and that will go away next.

But right now all that old crumbly crap is gone, replaced by properly grounded conduit and modern THHN #12 wire, it's definitely better and safer!

http://imgur.com/Jj1mYtd

The lower, older, darker one is definately the old very early romex that I mentioned we had in our cellar. That stuff is in worse condition than our knob and tube wiring that was original. I didn't see any of the white vinyl wire that I had mentioned that I saw in our cellar, but the upper grey wire is identical to the late 50's romex original to my dads house. The grey stuff isn't bad (despite apparant lack of a ground), but I would certainly reccomend replacing the older cloth wire.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:34 PM   #21
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The lower, older, darker one is definately the old very early romex that I mentioned we had in our cellar. That stuff is in worse condition than our knob and tube wiring that was original. I didn't see any of the white vinyl wire that I had mentioned that I saw in our cellar, but the upper grey wire is identical to the late 50's romex original to my dads house. The grey stuff isn't bad (despite apparant lack of a ground), but I would certainly reccomend replacing the older cloth wire.
Sure, the grey stuff is pretty intact, but there's no ground, and all appliances these days have 3 prong plugs, unless this stuff is left intact and I suppose grandfathered in by that, once you start messing with it, it's best even if not required- to just replace the old junk. Having stuff like this snaking inside wood walls is scary.
I don't know if you know it or not, but rodents LOVE gnawing on wiring, and most old buildings have mice at least, and they do find ways inside walls and other cavities.
I don't know if there are statistics, but so many house fires seems to start with wiring inside the walls-how many are caused by mice in the walls nesting and gnawing on the wiring enough to expose and short out the wires, but I'm sure a lot are caused by that.

Here's a few links:

Doug Adamson from the Mid Murray Zone of the Rural Fire Service says the fire started in the ceiling and mice are suspected to have chewed through wires.
"They're a genuine problem and this is the second fire in probably the last month or six weeks where because we can't come really come up with a cause or difficult to come up with a cause, we tend to think it might be mice," said Mr Adamson.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-05-0...-fires/2701732


Rodents, such as rats and mice, start fires by chewing on electrical wires that cause millions of dollars of structure damage each year.


It has been estimated that rodents cause up to 20 percent of undetermined fires in the United States each year. As a professional fire investigator, I have investigated numerous fires over the years involving rodent infestation in everything from houses to cars to motorcycles and even lawn tractors. Mice and rats chew constantly because their teeth are always growing. They have incisor teeth that butt up against each other. They will chew through soft concrete, aluminum, wallboards, and plastic pipes. Field mice move undercover in the winter months and prefer to live near the warmth of electrical components.

http://www.homeinspectionsbyjerrykel...entsFires.html


BURLINGTON -- Mice chewing through electrical wires inside a wall started a fire over the weekend that caused thousands of dollars of damage to a house on Overlake Park, Burlington Fire Department officials said.Burlington firefighters were called to the scene at 82 Overlake Park at about 2 a.m. Saturday after the homeowners smelled smoke and could feel intense heat coming through the second story floor.

Because the fire was inside the walls of the home, firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to pinpoint the flames that had already spread from the first and second floors into a third, said fire officials. Fire crews extinguished the blaze by breaking through walls on the first and second floors.The fire - caused by mice that had chewed through a 220 volt electric wire - had burned about two hours before residents smelled smoke, said Burlington Fire Department Assistant Fire Marshal Thomas Middleton.Middleton said the $700,000 home sustained about $80,000 in damages.

Last edited by RWolff; 02-02-2013 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:45 PM   #22
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Sure, the grey stuff is pretty intact, but there's no ground, and all appliances these days have 3 prong plugs, unless this stuff is left intact and I suppose grandfathered in by that, once you start messing with it, it's best even if not required- to just replace the old junk. Having stuff like this snaking inside wood walls is scary.
I don't know if you know it or not, but rodents LOVE gnawing on wiring, and most old buildings have mice at least, and they do find ways inside walls and other cavities.
I don't know if there are statistics, but so many house fires seems to start with wiring inside the walls-how many are caused by mice in the walls nesting and gnawing on the wiring enough to expose and short out the wires, but I'm sure a lot are caused by that.

Here's a few links:

Doug Adamson from the Mid Murray Zone of the Rural Fire Service says the fire started in the ceiling and mice are suspected to have chewed through wires.
"They're a genuine problem and this is the second fire in probably the last month or six weeks where because we can't come really come up with a cause or difficult to come up with a cause, we tend to think it might be mice," said Mr Adamson.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-05-0...-fires/2701732


Rodents, such as rats and mice, start fires by chewing on electrical wires that cause millions of dollars of structure damage each year.


It has been estimated that rodents cause up to 20 percent of undetermined fires in the United States each year. As a professional fire investigator, I have investigated numerous fires over the years involving rodent infestation in everything from houses to cars to motorcycles and even lawn tractors. Mice and rats chew constantly because their teeth are always growing. They have incisor teeth that butt up against each other. They will chew through soft concrete, aluminum, wallboards, and plastic pipes. Field mice move undercover in the winter months and prefer to live near the warmth of electrical components.

http://www.homeinspectionsbyjerrykel...entsFires.html


BURLINGTON -- Mice chewing through electrical wires inside a wall started a fire over the weekend that caused thousands of dollars of damage to a house on Overlake Park, Burlington Fire Department officials said.Burlington firefighters were called to the scene at 82 Overlake Park at about 2 a.m. Saturday after the homeowners smelled smoke and could feel intense heat coming through the second story floor.

Because the fire was inside the walls of the home, firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to pinpoint the flames that had already spread from the first and second floors into a third, said fire officials. Fire crews extinguished the blaze by breaking through walls on the first and second floors.The fire - caused by mice that had chewed through a 220 volt electric wire - had burned about two hours before residents smelled smoke, said Burlington Fire Department Assistant Fire Marshal Thomas Middleton.Middleton said the $700,000 home sustained about $80,000 in damages.
Mice certainly are an issue, and in most cases it would be good to replace the wire. The lack of a ground is also frustrating. However, my father can't afford to completely re-wire his house, and it is installed correctly, because it was installed as the house was built. It all depends on the circumstances.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:05 PM   #23
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Mice certainly are an issue, and in most cases it would be good to replace the wire. The lack of a ground is also frustrating. However, my father can't afford to completely re-wire his house, and it is installed correctly, because it was installed as the house was built. It all depends on the circumstances.

I read that Romex was invented in 1922 the name came from the Rome Wire co. Seems there was violent objection to it at first by contractors and others who oddly enough feared the quicker easier installation would make things less profitable for them!

When in the 1920's Charlie Abbott of the Rome Wire Co.
developed and proposed recognition in the Code of a cable
assembly consisting of insulated copper conductors and
nonmetallic wrappings, the industry was shocked and
violent opposition to recognition in the Code developed.

The representative of one manufacturer of metal wiring
products traveled the country with a cage full of rats
and samples of nonmetallic cable to show how rats
would gnaw into such cable and cause short circuits and
fires. Some trial installations in the Chicago stockyards
showed that rats would indeed damage such cable,
but primarily when it was run across their runways.

Crazy thing is that reminds me of the stone masons in the 1800s who actually rioted after doing everything they could to run an innovative new and better building material into the ground- terracotta.
They tried claiming it would never last etc., in the end it outlasted and outperformed in every way.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:27 PM   #24
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I've ran across some of this wire (the top picture), except it had a very small (16 awg?) ground wire in addition to the hot and neutral. I'm thinking late 1950s?
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:08 PM   #25
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I've ran across some of this wire (the top picture), except it had a very small (16 awg?) ground wire in addition to the hot and neutral. I'm thinking late 1950s?
The original electrical wiring in my father's 1957 ranch-style home has the same thing, with a skinny ground. The ground is twisted-up in every box and lightswitch, because the original two-pronged parallel/tandem style outlets have no ground prong on them. Can't figure out why they did that.

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