Electrical wiring in homes built before 1985

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Posted by: from Ottawa
7/31/2012 at 9:48:31 AM

I recently bought a home built in 1962. There were ceiling fans in almost every room in the house. I decided the one in the kitchen had to go. I took it down after finding the breaker it was connected too, then went to the store and bought a flexible-track lighting system.

My wife noticed a small warning on the box that said "Risk of fire, most dwellings built b4 1985 have supply wire rated 60 . Consult electrician."

How can I determine this is the case? Will I still be able to install them? What steps should I take?...

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Date/Time7/31/2012 at 11:15:39 AM

Your best bet is to call in an City of Ottawa electrical inspector to have a look and offer you the best advice. Not only have you invested your hard earned money into this home you need to keep your family safe so its better to be safe than sorry.

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Date/Time7/31/2012 at 11:24:38 AM

I agree with James. Better safe than sorry. The City or a local inspector can advise you (usually at no cost to you) on the best route to go.

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Date/Time7/31/2012 at 11:36:58 AM

I can't really tell what the letters past the number 60 are supposed to mean. I interpret that as the wire's insulation is rated at 60 degrees. If you can see a part of the insulation covering the wire that is in your house, there will be some information stamped onto the wire's jacket.

All modern house wire is rated at 90 degrees. If it is stamped 90 degrees on it somewhere, you will be OK. Otherwise, I would check with your local electrical inspector, he/she probably has a lot of experience in your particular area and would know what type of cable was installed in your house. Hope this helps.

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Date/Time8/1/2012 at 9:06:07 AM

You should have no problem installing new fixtures, the trac lighting dosn't have the fixture right at the box therefore the heat is not directly on the wire.

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Date/Time8/2/2012 at 12:25:55 PM

I tend to agree with Larry. There are basically two sides to this situation.

First the code. The code dictates that the wiring must be 90*C. I have seen many 90*C fixture boxes with burnt up wiring because people put in larger than rated lamps in the fixture and have overheated the wires in the box. I have also seen the opposite, plenty of 60*C wires perfectly fine in hundreds of light boxes.

Second is common sense. This is what Larry is getting at. If at the point of connection, there is not any heat source from the lamps or ballasts, it makes sense (although not necessarily in compliance of the code) to be able to install that fixture. This applies to the fact that the electrical code is not retroactive; meaning that you are not obligated to make it compliant to todays code if it was acceptable at the time of installation. Having said that, back then the fixture rating was only 60*C anyway, so it is not an issue at this point.

If you are looking to satisfy the code, the least expensive option would be to call an Electrical Contractor in and have them put some "heat shrink" on the individual conductors which will increase the rating to 90*C.

The most expensive option would be to have that portion of the circuit rewired to 90*C wire.


John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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