Real World Risks (Pic Included)

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by PM5K, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. PM5K

    PM5K New Member

    Messages:
    154
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    Whenever I read about building codes I sometimes wonder what the implications are for when they aren't followed. I wonder this because I know that the codes exist for a reason, and sometimes for many reasons. In plumbing doing certain things the wrong way can cause a vacuum that can pull the water out of your p-trap, thus allowing sewer gas into your home, for example.

    So I find it interesting, and it makes me wonder, based on the photo below, what would be the real world implications of what I believe is a code violation.

    Background: This is not my home, it's a friends and I believe it was built in the late seventies, let's say 1979 for sake of argument. I'm not totally sure if this is how the wiring was when it was built, but it certainly hasn't been changed in the past ten years that I've known this person. That means that even though I believe this to be a code violation, at least by todays code, it's never been a problem all of these years. That makes me wonder, what would be the possible implications of this wiring setup.

    Also, it's my understanding that splices should be in an accessible junction box, and probably be connected with wire nuts. The photo below shows wiring that is normally inaccessible. These wires run from the ceiling, one of the splices powers a central gas heater, and I believe the other goes to a bathroom.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2011
  2. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Ya, that's not how it should be done, but the conductors are seperated, so that helps with heat.
    In all liklyhood the conductors are sodered which makes a great connection.

    So while this would most likly not cause any safetey issues, it is poor workmanship
  3. PM5K

    PM5K New Member

    Messages:
    154
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    I was wondering how they were connected. How common is it to solder them? I don't think I've ever seen that before.
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,236
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    My last house had all of the junctions soldered and taped (in boxes).

    Unsheathed wires could never be exposed like that since back in the days of knob and tube....

    Not only is is an uncontained splice, but there are no cable staples supporting the wire. Nothing there to prevent someone from tugging on the cable and pulling the whole works apart.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011
  5. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Solder is applied with heat, current causes heat; this is enough to let someone know that solder is not a good idea.

    Rodents would love to find that as the glue on the tape is one of their favorites.

    Rodents moving about in the space could possibly put stress on those joint just enough to cause them to start arcing which would be bad.

    It don’t take a lot of thinking to figure out many reasons why this is a bad situation.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,806
    Location:
    New England
    Junctions should be in boxes, and the box must be accessable (i.e., the cover able to be opened). they may have soldered the connection, or crimped. It doesn't look thick enough to have a wire nut under the tape.
  7. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    A surprising statement. Almost every off the shelf solder has a 300' F melting point. One has to work hard to find a 90' C solder, which would still match the wires
    temperature rating.

    Solder isolates the wire from vibration loosening, internal corrosion, and in the case of submersible pumps, is a very important detail in underwater splices.

    As to rodents, they like NM cable as much or more than tape. They have a taste for th and thhn too - had a box stripped bare by a screwball rat.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,253
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Do you really believe that someone who would put a wire in like that would even know HOW to solder it? And what was your first clue that it might NOT be installed to code? I am surprised they did not put that wire in a shower to make it a complete hazard. As far as "heat melting the solder", heat only occurs with loose connections.
  9. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    In any high current draw the conductor will heat up. There won't need to be a loose connection for this heat to happen.

    In most cases a soldered joint will be done with electronic solder (60/40) that just won't stand up to the current draw.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,826
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    The right way to make a solder connection, is to start with a good physical connection. The solder is just there to prevent oxidation and not to carry much of the current. If the conductor heats up enough to melt the solder, there are bigger problems to worry about.

    http://w6rec.com/duane/bmw/solder/
    [​IMG]
  11. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I agree as long as the proper solder is being used. If not then the solder can melt long before the conductor is damaged or the overcurrent device opens.

    Or the the solder itself can cause damage to the insulation of the conductor.
  12. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades

    Messages:
    3,812
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Hello Group,

    The Insulation would melt, Far before the solder would, If it soldered correctly.

    It should be in a junction box at the least, but soldering is not a problem as long as acid flux is not used.

    Have a Great Day.

    DonL.

    "Theory only works in a vacuum" , there are just to many unknown variables in every day life.
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