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Hot postwar steam pipes next to electrical cables

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Erin Holohan Haskell
Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,326
edited March 2018 in THE MAIN WALL
That's what's going on in the British Houses of Parliament. They had 7 fires last year. My favorite line of this article? “We’ve got to stop shilly shallying around, we’ve got to make a decision." That's for sure!

President
HeatingHelp.com

Comments

  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,468
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    As the temperature of wire goes up, the current carrying capacity of wire goes down which can lead to a self reinforcing failure.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    The wire in that photo is all communications wire, it's not carrying any power. If it shorts out something will stop working and the chance of it's failing is pretty much nill. That article is about some wiring company wanting to get a nice fat government contract.

    My house is just about 100 years old, it was originally K&T but that was replaced by BX back in the late 30's. I have replaced a lot of it but it still powers just about all the ceiling lights and some outlets on the second floor. Some of this wire is very close to steam pipes and as long as ot's not disturbed it should be fine.

    I had the fuse panel replaced with a 32 space circuit breaker panel a couple of years back. It's only a 1100 sq ft house but a lot of the circuits are for the workshop and outside outlets on the porches and garage. The electrician said the old BX was fine as long as it's not screwed with. He terminated the BX in a few work boxes and ran #14 romex from the work boxes to the new panel.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,634
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    I am more concerned with this:

    "Meanwhile, 200 toilets failed earlier this month"

    Heat is the enemy of any wire. Heat can be internal if the wire carries a load or from the external environment.

    Modern building wire such as THHN is rated for 90 deg C (194F)
    older rubber covered wire like K & T would be lucky to be rated for 40-60 deg C (104-140F)

    Heat breaks down the insulation over time.

  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,326
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    I am more concerned with this:

    "Meanwhile, 200 toilets failed earlier this month"

    Yes - yikes!

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,454
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    The real key to that article is the "post war steam". Central heating certainly was needed -- but an awful lot of work done in that immediate post war era was not... quite... as good as it might have been. Shall we say. For a variety of reasons. I'd venture that the actual heat from the steam pipes has less to do with the problem than the wiring itself -- although it is quite likely that the steam pipe temperatures are near the limits for the original insulation and probably don't help.

    For those who aren't familiar with British automobiles from that era, there is a very good reason that Lucas Electrics is also known as "The Prince of Darkness"... Some of the sports cars from that era are fabulous machines to drive -- but if you really want to drive them more than a short distance, replacing the wiring and other electrical components is a very wise move.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,654
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    Why do the British drink warm beer?

    Lucas refrigerators!

  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
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    Shilly Shally? Dilly Dilly!! :smiley:

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Erin Holohan Haskell