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Cloth insulated wire


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This is one of those ticklish things. I usually don't say much other than to note it as being original and outdated, unless it has an issue of some kind (poorly done to start with, in sorry condition, non-pro meddling / add-ons, etc.). About half of the time I find this stuff on a 2-wire system anyway, and I'm ALWAYS going to recommend rewiring the whole system then.

And as always, disclaim to the effect of "can't see and inspect all of it, consult a qualified electrician about concerns, options, estimates, etc." for some basic CYA.

Brian G.

But That's Just Me

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The cloth insulated wires were in armor cable. So grounding is relatively easy. If I do not see any problem but cloth wiring is present I should just note its presence. But not recommend replacement. It just seems wrong to me to have cloth inside the breaker box.


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Just to expound a little bit on the K & T in insulation aspect of this thread - in the large majority of old home inspections I do here, K & T is literally buried in the blown-in cellulose. On 3 occasions in 8 years, I've found jury-rigged splices onto K & T, that were done by do-it-yourselfers, where the splice had heated to the point of scorching the surrounding cellulose insulation. I have never found an instance where the original, properly-soldered and taped splices caused the same issue.

It's an eye opener when you find that paper insulation scorched, but at the same time it gives one a lot of confidence that the borate used to treat the cells is doing what it is designed to do - prevent all of that mulched newsprint from igniting.



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Originally posted by Douglas Hansen

Not only does the borate often get mixed improperly, it also settles out over time. And if it gets into contact with copper, it corrodes it. I just can't stand loose cellulose.

Now you tell me, my attic and walls are full of the stuff. I think there must be significant variation in the fire resisitance on different brands and batches though. I was here while mine was installed, and I was asking the guy about this very thing. He walked out to his truck and came back with a propane torch, scooped up some dry cellulose, put a penny in the middle, and spent a few minutes turning it glowing red. All of time he was holding this in his hand, never got burned, and the stuff didn't light. He said he did that whenever people asked for a demonstration of fire resisitance and insulating quality, and it was very convincing.

I never thought about the borates acting on the copper, right out of left field for me.

Brian G.

Things I Know...Thin Book. Things I Don't Know...Thick Book

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