Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why can't I use the Neutral wire on my ground?


 This is why! Someone Tied the ground and neutral together on this 1960's green cloth romex. The ground wire shorted out. Since 1960 grounds are smaller then the neutral path this wire heated up like it was a toaster coil. Now the only safe way to restore power to the lights and outlets on this circuit would be to replace the wire.

If you look closely at this wire you can see the burn mark made by the over heating ground wire. It clearly follows the the center path of the wire. That center path is where the ground wire is set in the cable. This homeowner was lucky because they were able to smell the wire heating up before it caught fire. It is very likely that this problem could have occurred in other sections of the wire. 

The solution to this problem is to replace this circuit with new wiring. Updating this wiring will also add some additional safety. Instead of the cloth jack newer wiring comes with a tougher plastic jacket. The ground wire will be as large as the other conductors. Most importantly this circuit will be split in to 3 circuit and then protected with modern AFCI circuit breakers.   


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