NFPA is Concerned about Aging Wiring!

A few thoughts? Edison Base fuses OK here, if this disconnect was once used for a clothes dryer, for example?

This was one of my pictures used on the NEC Direct Cover with an article for Aging Wiring, I must go now – got to make the sausages for tonight, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Looks like it has been retired LONG ago Joe…

Being it was a dryer as you said…a violation of Section 240.51(A)

Hope you had a WONDERFUL …NEW YEAR

Send some Sausages…lol

Joe, I’m curious (and please forgive my layman terms and comprehension of electric :wink: !)I encounter a lot of older wiring in Philly row homes (cloth insulation) and I was interested in how you report such wiring and your recommendations of the client in regard to it.

Also, do you make any recommendations about fuses us. breakers (I know both are allowable)?

Finally, do you make recommendations on service Amperage, or simply note the condition?

Always interested in learning more - Thanks!

Well I am sure Joe will chime in but I will give you my opinion on it.

1.) Cloth wiring is not nearly as bad depending on the condition of it. In the wall itself it will more than likely be fine but the areas of concern is where it is exposed and the relative location it is to things it can come in contact with as the cloth coating ages and twists away.

IN regards to informing the client, really IMO you can only make them aware of what you observe, I did a rewire for a client simply because the portions you could see were damaged and conductors exposed but in the renovation I was able to see the actual wires in the all were in good shape in respect to condition.

The largest issue you come into with cloth wire is most of the time the actual service center ( Panelboard ) is not equiped to handle the modern needs in some cases with some of the nonlinear issues and harmonics and well we won’t go their…

Anyway…I am in the field everyday and I see cloth covering all the time and in many cases and most certainly for HI’s you can’t see into the walls so you have to do on what is exposed and if the exposed looks fine chances are the wire in the wall will also be…BUT the bigger issue is most of the cloth wire did not contain a EGC…which presents a whole new issue for a future purchaser and most certainly would need to be noted in your report.

Upon inspection I really think you note it as simply the TYPE…and as with any cable system ( ie: romax and so on ) you note it as such and if you notice in the panel the cloth has no EGC then you state it is not up to the standards of today and contains no EGC. But as we know it it is up to the client to choose to anything about if they choose.

Breakers versus Fuses…Well each have their purpose and basically do the same thing but in fuses you have a wide array of options from time delay, fast blow and a few more and in some cases ( ie: some HVAC outside units ) may require a fuse versus breakers…I am sure Joe can elaborate more on this if you wish. ) As for me personally…I use breakers any time it is possible, except in some cases on motors where I am getting away with a specific application and need time delays and issues of thermals and so on…but thats outside of this scope needed. Also fuses like joe posted above have definate limits on their allowed uses…which then move us into a totally new type of fuses…which again do fine in many cases but today you will be hard pressed to find residential service equipment in fuse form…not so true in commercial applications and industrial as I am sure Bob " The Bobster " can elaborate on more.

Finally…Service Amps…You have to note it…you dont have to size it…but some things are obvious…if the panel is overloaded it will be clearly overloaded as far as the HI is concerned…Sure you note the condition, review the bonding, check the grounding ( two different things…lol ) and check all the normal areas covered in HI’s mandates by the SOP and local laws.

I could go on for days…lol

Thanks Paul and for Joe:

Here’s some of the information that I was thinking about when I posted the image above. I believe that the answers to your questions can be found here:
The Problem of Aging Electrical Wiring
In the real world, not everything gets better with age

necdigestâ„¢, Spring 2004
by Jim Lardear

As an electrical professional, you know the difference between a conductor and an insulator, but the typical homeowner does not give it a lot of thought. They flip a switch and a light goes on. If they need to plug in a new appliance, they find an open outlet. If they need more outlets, they get an extension cord or power strip.

The electrical wiring systems that power the conveniences of modern life are hidden in walls and in panel boxes in basements. They are out of sight and out of mind. But that does not mean they are not overloaded and under severe stress.

As homes in the United States age currently half of all homes are at least 50 years old their wiring systems may not be keeping up with the ever-increasing demands placed on them. As their quality and safety deteriorate over time, potential hazards posed by aging residential wiring systems can be unseen or just casually neglected by homeowners or renters.

According to the National Science and Technology Council’s Wire System Safety Inter agency Working Group report issued in 2000, the aging of electrical wiring systems is a national safety issue.

Each year in the United States, it is estimated that there are as many as 41,500 fires in homes related to electrical wiring systems, resulting in 1,400 injuries and 350 deaths with damage estimates ranging from $650 million to $1 billion annually. While older homes are at a greater risk, newer ones are not immune from the dangers of poor wiring practices or the environmental stresses placed on wiring systems.

The reality is that this is not a witch-hunt for defective products. Most of the electrical wiring systems that went into homes in the 1960s, '50s and '40s are at or close to the end of their design life. If these products are showing some kind of deficiency after 50 or 60 years of service, no one in the industry is hinting that there was a design flaw.

“This issue is vendor make and model neutral,” says William King, Chief Engineer for Electrical/Fire Safety, United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (Bethesda, MD). “We are on the threshold of an emerging problem.”

Please look at the next post for the rest of this story!

PS: Bulletin Board limited the complete text.

lol…I kinda wish more people thought like that in that old wiring should be redone and then Electricians would be in HUGE demand more than we already are. Heck we all know that panels and components of such have a life span which is why we see service changes and upgrades…wish everyone thought that way.

With so much NEW construction going on the baby boom generation of homes should be coming around to have some electrical issues us electricians can cash in on.

Just could not post the text? Look here for the rest.

Joe, if the note at the bottom of the link was intended for me, you are welcome on a row home inspection anytime. I have a feeling the information I could gain from you just on the wiring and electrical system would be endlessly valuable

Thank you for the article. It is exactly what I was looking for. The information regarding how 50 year old breakers and wiring age and how functional they are is what I was wondering about and I was not sure what to recommend where no damage or improper connection was evident (or what to base the recommendations on.)

FOr example, I note aged wiring (and grounding related issues) but where the insulation is not brittle is it technically correct to recommend rewiring? And, if so, would local electricians say that it was overkill? Similarly, if the panel is older but properly installed, can replacement based solely on age be recommended?

Like I said, always interested in learning more…

Joe: See my bold below.:stuck_out_tongue:

How about posting some of these photos to the gallery at


I inspect all over the area, but I would certainly swing by 30th Street to get you for an inspection or two. There are several Holiday Inns I am aware of, but you are probably referring to the one at 4th and Arch which is a short ride from 30th Street station.

When I get advance warning of upcoming row home inspections, I will give you as much notice as I can… There are row houses all through Philly from about 300 years old to nearly new. The standard city row is about 60-80 years old and the electrical components come in all shapes and sizes.

Thanks again for the info…btw here are the most recent pics (from yesterday)…this is a little older than usual (noramally there is at least a breaker panel, but the wiring is very typical.)




The offer is still open Joe, I am sure you have more stories too.