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  • Cloth insulated wire

    I opened a exterior wall and discovered my 1956 house wiring has some cloth insulated wire. The cloth wires I discovered are wrapped around a stud - no ceramic insulators - and a few have copper exposed, looks like a bird or rodent chewed through it to the copper.

    I pulled the wires away from the stud and wrapped them (separately) in electrical tape.

    Any suggestions on the next step? Is there a device that can test the integrity of a wires insulation?


    Should I attempt remove them?

    Thanks,

    BC

  • #2
    Re: Cloth insulated wire

    Let it be or replace it. Both have their advantages. You can not test the integrity of the insulation unless it happens to be submerged in water. Any attempted to move it or manipulate it will result in more of the cloth disintegrating. If your opening things up and can get to it and its associated junctions I would replace it. Replacing it will give you peace of mind.

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    • #3
      Re: Cloth insulated wire

      You might want to replace it if you think any of it is touching wood or if that circuit is heavily loaded. The insulation is there to separate the heat from combustible materials. The other thing you can do is replace that circuit breaker with a smaller one. That way it will never get too hot.

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      • #4
        Re: Cloth insulated wire

        I am not exactly sure what type of wiring your referring to, the old cloth covered romex or some type of single stranded wire,

        but I was basically asking my SIL who is a licenced electrician a similar question a few nights ago, and was asking him about meggers, and checking out some of the old wiring in my home,

        there is a instrument used to test the quality of insulation, and it is called a megger, (I have never used one) but my understanding is that it can be set for 500 volts 1000 volts and some higher, and then it checks the leakage of the insulation between wire in a circuits, you disconnect it out of the box and disconnect any thing attached before using the device,

        they use it to check the integrity of wiring after lighting hits, in motors, and other uses as well,

        my SIL also suggested putting those type of runs on an Arc fault breaker if your in doubt.
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        • #5
          Re: Cloth insulated wire

          Arc Fault Circuit Breakers would be a good idea and even for new wire, but I would replace it if you can. The copper conductor had natural rubber insulation and was wrapped up in cotton for protection. The rubber most likely has rotted away. If you don't get rid of it, or atleast disconnect it, sooner or later you'll most likely have arcing and then a fire. My house was bult in the late 40s and had that type of wire inside a steel "BX" casing. Because it had gone bad most was replaced. Sometimes it's way less trouble to just disconnect it (both ends) and run new Romex or BX next to the old. This is where it's wise to have a good electrician come over and check things out at your place. Doing nothing is asking for trouble sooner or later.

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