It's fair to say that rubber in a somewhat different form was the first electrical wire insulating material, at least in the U. The object of my invention is to effectively insulate wire, so that it will be waterproof and capable of being used in moist places and even under water without detriment to its insulating qualities, and also fire-proof, so that if by accident the wire becomes red-hot the insulating-covering will not be set on fire and burned, but only oxidation will result, which will leave the wire pyro-insulated. The main feature of the invention is the use as an insulating-covering of a mixture of rubber with an infusible material in the form of a powder.
But actually earlier electrical power cable and wiring insulation appeared as rope, tarred fabric, and even wood. However the rubber insulated wire illustrated by Edison's patent represented the first economical branch circuit conductor wire insulation approach that could be mechanically and economically produced in high volume. More electrical generator equipment dating from Edison's day and still on display at the Pratt Institute can be seen.
Above: This wire was a short section of extension cord that had been used to connect a permanently-mounted fluorescent light fixture to power by plugging it into a wall-mounted electrical receptacle. Below: this is a sample of plastic-insulated multi-strand electrical wire that was encased in the rubber jacket shown above. When the light failed to operate the author, on disassembly, found that the insulation on this wire was badly deteriorated, crumbling, and unsafe. In our rubber and fabric wire insulation photo below you can see that inside the outer rubber wire jacket these conductors were insulated by fabric-covered rubber.
The wire shown below combines the hot and neutral wires in an external rubber jacket. But the earliest electrical wiring systems in the U. Sometimes you may find tinned-copper electrical wire in these older conductors. Don't mistake tinned-copper for aluminum electrical wiring. Beneath the heavy rubber exterior of the welder power cable we see a cloth fabric that might be an asbestos fabric needed for extra heat resistance. Above: Above we're looking at the cut-end of what is most likely a section of original DC or continuous current distribution cabling salvaged from a NYC trench.
The solid copper core was wrapped in rope to insulate it from the iron pipe and the space between that cable and the surrounding iron pipe was filled with a pitch-like substance. In theaters where electrical wiring is often temporary, we often find surprising and possibly unsafe installations. The rubber-coated wires shown below were observed in a New York theatre and looked better than what my brother-in-law Matt, a theatre electrician, could produce.
Theater fires are particularly dangerous as there is likely to be a crowd stampede to exits, poor lighting, and lots of combustible materials. In my home town, Richmond VA, the Hippodrome theater, opened in , caught fire in when I was just two so I'm not responsible. The fire was thought to have been electrical in origin. The U. Older homes often have electrical receptacles and fixtures that are ungrounded, and many local codes do not require that they be rewired so they're grounded. Still, grounding is worth adding to your system because it adds protection against electrical shock.
Above we see both older fabric-covered electrical conductors and newer plastic-insulated wires in an electrical panel. The bare copper wire that is nearly black was a clue in tracking down a neutral and ground wiring failure at this building. Above the same rubber-insulated electrical wire discussed earlier is also used to illustrate the dull silvery colored metal wire observed where tinned copper electrical wiring is installed.
It is not aluminum and it is safe unless, as with any electrical wiring, it has been damaged in some manner. Not all rubber insulated copper wire is plated, but if you suspect that the silvery-colored wire is plated copper, it's easy enough to determine: with the wire disconnected from any power source, scratch the silver colored surface of the rubber-insulated wire and you'll see its red copper interior.
There Aronstein describes plated-copper wire as:. Plated copper wire [tinned copper wire] is relatively common in older homes, and it looks like aluminum wire. It was commonly used with rubber-based insulation.
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Identification can be made by careful inspection of a cut end of the wire. In general, plated copper wire would not be present in nonmetallic sheathed cable "Romex" , it is most generally found in metallic sheathed cable "BX". Cable of the "BX" type is not likely to contain aluminum wire.
The heavy fabric braid wires shown in the left of this photo may be mistaken for Wireduct, also referred to as All-Weather Loom - shown below. It is not. This is a fabric- and rubber-insulated multi-strand electrical wire. Wire-loom or all-weather loom was sold as a non-metallic flexible conduit for protection of electrical wiring in buildings. The asbestos "wireloom" shown earlier on this page may be an example of this product too, designed for improved flame resistance in theaters. You may find wireduct or wire-loom on knob and tube electrical wiring systems as well as other older building electrical wiring.
In the unfortunate electrical wiring situation shown above, a reader mailed us this photo of white probably-asbestos wire loom-wrapped electrical wires and splices left exposed in the floor of her attic. We caution that with this sort of electrical work visible, one must worry about what other work was done on the building by the same installer. Wire Loom is still sold as a cabling protection sleeve made in its current form as a colored nylon flexible slit corrugated tubing or as black polyethylene flexible tubing.
This is an asphalt-impregnated cotton wire loom typically used in automotive applications. Special thanks to Minnesota home inspector Roger Hankey for assistance with material for this article. Hankey has served in other ASHI professional and leadership roles. Contact Roger Hankey at: - rhankey hankeyandbrown. Hankey is a frequent contributor to Inspect A Pedia. Electrical components in a building can easily cause an electrical shock, burn, or even death. Even when a hot line switch is off, one terminal on the switch is still connected to the power source. I have a home in Maine, a ranch with amp breaker box service.
I have not been able to afford to have the kind of exploratory work done to find the problem, but I did find some thing odd in a wall outlet the other night. It is mid circuit in a metal box in the wood paneling by the brick chimney. The top of the box is clean, but the inside of the bottom has some white corrosion. The lower hot and neutral pair are dark from age but also have green corrosion where they wrap around the terminal screw, but the upper pair do not.
I thought water or perhaps mouse urine from the attic, but then the top outside of the box would be corroded too, as would the top pair of hot and neutral wires.
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A simple circuit tester shows the wiring to be double green correct. At some point the the upper hot must have touched somewhere because there is a bright brass splash in the screw, and it has not darkened over time--it looks polished. The inconsistencies make no sense to me but I hope they might to you, and maybe a solution to my many thousands of dollars in power I have never used. Thank you for reading my lengthy post--I can send pictures if that would help.
Bruce E. Stand at the meter and watch the dial spin rate or time it to be more accurate or on a digital meter note the number change rate per second or 30 seconds.
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Start turning off circuits in the home. One or two of them will usually define the main energy users in the home when you see the electric meter spin rate drop significantly. Make a note of what appliances or in your theory current shorts to ground that are located on that circuit and you've got a good idea who's using the juice. Typically these are air conditioners, refrigerators, electric heaters.
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American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Cites early electrical patents by Edison, Sprague et als.
Aronstein, J. IEEE, Aronstein, Jesse, and Wilfred E. Joint with the 18th International Conference on Electrical Contacts, pp. The languages of Edison's light.
Dini, David A. Fabian, and J. Thomas Chapin. David Dini, Northbrook, Ill. Tel: 1. Dini us. These papers on this subject can be downloaded for free. Edison, Thomas A. Patent ,, issued March 15, Working with electrical wiring involves working with device boxes, raceways, conductors, and cables.
A Homeowner's Introduction to Electrical Wiring
This course will introduce the learner to the basics of the electrical wiring system. From explaining the key installation procedures for electrical device boxes and raceways to outlining the correct technique for using hand-benders to bend conduits, this course covers the essential requirements of the job. The course also provides information on metal conduit fittings and some common types of fasteners used to attach raceway supports.