cloth covered wiring

.I thought you would be interested in what i have stumbled into.
I work in the Savannah GA area , Ive to work on several homes with BX cable with cloth wiring.The insulation fails ,shorts out,burns into.I have replaced bad sections with romex and explained how important it is to rewire home.
I have one customer who was getting shocked in the shower , found shorted section oF BX and replaced with romex.Another customer had a circuit that was tripping 5 minutes after turning on breaker, so turn on breaker and here something humming in the attic ,I thought it was a fan motor .I look in the attic for this "bad motor" and see a few "orange lights " thru out the attic. Closer look I realized that those were not lights but glowing BX cable..cable was not bonded and of course it had no EGC.
I found and repaired the fault ,bounded all the exposed BX I could to the EGC on the new feeds ( the panel had been upgraded and bonded ,replaced first 10' of circiuts)
I was thinking of replacing all the breakers with arcfault breakers and if any trip ,then rewire that circuit ...instead of rewiring whole house.
What do you think?
 

growler

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,GA
I would write it up with a recommendation to rewire the whole house.
What the owners choose to do with this information is up to them. Some people can't afford a rewire. What people need to understand is if the Fire Department comes out they will condemn the house after a fire (even a small one ).

Edit: after a fire I have gotten the insurance company to pay for a rewire.
 

growler

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,GA
.I thought it was a fan motor .I look in the attic for this "bad motor" and see a few "orange lights " thru out the attic. Closer look I realized that those were not lights but glowing BX cable..cable was not bonded and of course it had no EGC.
If there were glowing BX cables there should have been a lot of smoke. You don't need a blaze to have an electrical fire. If they had called the Fire Department they would have come out and opened up the walls for you ( with axes ) and you would have had an electrical fire to report to the insurance company.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
I was thinking of replacing all the breakers with arcfault breakers and if any trip ,then rewire that circuit ...instead of rewiring whole house.
What do you think?
See what not being informed about arcfault breakers does? A false sense of security that they will protect against something that you have been led to believe that they will. Here we have an example of how believing in AFCIs put lives at risk. Instead of doing a complete rewire, let's save money and let AFCI breakers find the problems and shut down the circuits.

Very bad idea that puts your customer's lives at risk as well as your business and future. If it's as bad as you say, I would only recommend rewiring and walk away. I wouldn't touch ANYTHING because if you do you are responsible for everything that happens after that.

I don't think you would be happy about being brought up on charges or being sued for wrongful death if someone dies.

-Hal
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
Remember that Arc Fault detection does not even make a pretense of detecting glowing connections (ohmic faults rather than arcs.) And parallel arcs will not be detected if under 75A peak.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
If I looked in the attic and saw glowing cable sheath, I'm turning off everything I feel comfortable with turning off to make it stop, maybe even disconnecting circuit from breaker/fuse and if customer wants nothing more from me, that is fine. Most the time they want you to fix it, or disable it to make it safer to be in the house. Should they choose to reconnect it, that should be on them if it burns the house down. A little documentation of details may help out down the road should you get blamed for anything.

If this were something hazardous with a gas line or gas appliance, gas companies just shut of the gas service and refuse to reconnect until problem is resolved. They may or may not be hired to make repairs, but will not turn on gas to anything they deem unsafe, including ventilation of exhaust gases.
 

Sierrasparky

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician ,contractor
If there were glowing BX cables there should have been a lot of smoke. You don't need a blaze to have an electrical fire. If they had called the Fire Department they would have come out and opened up the walls for you ( with axes ) and you would have had an electrical fire to report to the insurance company.
If I looked in the attic and saw glowing cable sheath, I'm turning off everything I feel comfortable with turning off to make it stop, maybe even disconnecting circuit from breaker/fuse and if customer wants nothing more from me, that is fine. Most the time they want you to fix it, or disable it to make it safer to be in the house. Should they choose to reconnect it, that should be on them if it burns the house down. A little documentation of details may help out down the road should you get blamed for anything.

If this were something hazardous with a gas line or gas appliance, gas companies just shut of the gas service and refuse to reconnect until problem is resolved. They may or may not be hired to make repairs, but will not turn on gas to anything they deem unsafe, including ventilation of exhaust gases.
If I saw that in the attic I would wonder where else it was happening that I couldn't see.

-Hal
Agreed


If I saw glowing in the attic and found issue with BX , I would assume it to be that way elsewhere. I would cut the power, fully document and make recommendations.
I would not be just fixing sections unless I knew absolutely that the fixed section were the only involved.


Sorry I aint gonna risk me or my boss's license or mine or be responsible for safety of the family living there.

Those folks would be staying in a hotel until fully fixed !
 

romex jockey

Senior Member
Location
Vermont
Agreed on documenting, w/further consideration

I'm the last spark in a 9 unit K&T disaster in my town

Condemned by the (then) state AHJ ,who wrote it up as 'having 6 months to come up to code'

That was 6-7 years ,and two AHJ's ago....:(~RJ~
 
Thanks guys ,You are all right .I was thinking that if I installed dual function breakers ,and they tripped,then they would see their is something wrong with the wiring. Ive explained to them that its a fire hazard ,but most say " If it aint broke ,dont fix it".
Maybe I should have my lawyer write up something for them to sign , taking blame off me if their house burns down after I have to work on their unsafe system.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Thanks guys ,You are all right .I was thinking that if I installed dual function breakers ,and they tripped,then they would see their is something wrong with the wiring. Ive explained to them that its a fire hazard ,but most say " If it aint broke ,dont fix it".
Maybe I should have my lawyer write up something for them to sign , taking blame off me if their house burns down after I have to work on their unsafe system.
People often see tripping breakers, GFCI's, AFCI's, motor overloads, etc. as the problem even if they are doing what they are supposed to do. So if you did install something that does trip when nothing did before, they see it as you made problems worse:(

If you let owners look into that attic and see all the glowing cables and they are not convinced there is a problem - might want to just leave immediately, you can't fix stupid. You don't need to know a lot about this sort of thing and still should be able to figure out that isn't a good thing.
 

bullheimer

Senior Member
Location
WA
i had something similar to that i came across, NOT nearly as serious as THAT! UGH! i told them they needed a rewire and didn't touch anything and DID NOT CHARGE THEM so i could NOT give them a receipt so NO SIGN i was ever there. no thanks! once you touch that garbage you own it. (at least that's what their lawyer will say)

cant remember ever going back there. i do so much remodeling of crap work i forget what i did two days ago.
 

romex jockey

Senior Member
Location
Vermont
Thanks guys ,You are all right .I was thinking that if I installed dual function breakers ,and they tripped,then they would see their is something wrong with the wiring. Ive explained to them that its a fire hazard ,but most say " If it aint broke ,dont fix it".
Maybe I should have my lawyer write up something for them to sign , taking blame off me if their house burns down after I have to work on their unsafe system.
I've simply done registered mail with similar situations shaw....but feel just as uncomfortable being caught between these '" If it aint broke ,dont fix it" and this "If you see it,you're liable" camps.

In my state, a formal complaint can be forwarded>>>
https://firesafety.vermont.gov/sites/firesafety/files/files/forms/dfs_complaintform.pdf

I would encourage that you inquire as to similar doc's on your turf

;)
~RJ~
 

growler

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,GA
I found and repaired the fault ,bounded all the exposed BX I could to the EGC on the new feeds ( the panel had been upgraded and bonded ,replaced first 10' of circuits.)
See what not being informed about arc fault breakers does? A false sense of security that they will protect against something that you have been led to believe that they will. Here we have an example of how believing in AFCIs put lives at risk. Instead of doing a complete rewire, let's save money and let AFCI breakers find the problems and shut down the circuits.
Actually the NEC would require that he install Arc Fault breakers weather they do any good or not after replacing the first 10' of the circuit.
 

growler

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,GA
If you let owners look into that attic and see all the glowing cables and they are not convinced there is a problem - might want to just leave immediately, you can't fix stupid.
From what I see it's not that the owners are stupid it's that in most cases they don't live there. The owners are landlords that only want to collect rents. They have the property insured and they did call an electrician so if it burns they are not really in a bad position.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
From what I see it's not that the owners are stupid it's that in most cases they don't live there. The owners are landlords that only want to collect rents. They have the property insured and they did call an electrician so if it burns they are not really in a bad position.
True, but they call the electrician and don't want to listen to his suggestion in most cases because it will cost them something besides the service call they maybe would be willing to pay. I kind of have to agree with the suggestion of charging them nothing and never coming back if they aren't interested in doing the right thing, may save a lot in potential liability compared to the loss taken for not collecting on the service call.
 
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