Screwed through wire!

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  #1  
Old 10-10-04, 06:59 PM
daneyul
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Screwed through wire!

Putting up a shelf above my washer/dryer, I just put a screw through the wire evidently leading up from the plug. There was a brief brightening of the light in the room, but no other effect...except now my washer and dryer don't come on. I'm thinking I need to replace the wire, but I'm not sure if I can just splice a new segment of wire in (since this must be 220, right?). Any pointers on the best way to proceed would be appreciated greatly!

-Dan
 
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  #2  
Old 10-10-04, 07:13 PM
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Unfortunately, this is probably an expensive (if you have it fixed) or time consuming (if you fix it yourself) mistake. To avoid this kind of really annoying problem, I generally advise people to stick with screws that don't penetrate the wallboard surface more than 1.5". At least you didn't hit a pipe. That would have probably been worse.

The problem is that if you just patch this, you'll need a permanently accessible junction box on each side of the break. This is the simplest fix, but it is often cosmetically unacceptable. In a laundry room, you may not mind the two visible cover plates. You can usually just cut a junction-box size hole about a foot to the left and a foot to the right. Use a new piece of cable of the same size and type to connect the two new boxes. You can install old-work boxes in the holes and put cover plates on them (you could even add a new receptacle or two if you wanted). This won't require any drywall repair.

If you want a more cosmetically invisible fix, you'll have to remove the cable back to the junction box on either side and replace the whole run. This will probably involve a lot of drywall repair.

This is probably a 120-volt line, not a 240-volt line. Is your dryer gas or electric? Is this a washer/dryer combo unit?
 
  #3  
Old 10-10-04, 07:54 PM
daneyul
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Wow...thanks for the fast reply.

I think I'll opt for time consuming, rather the expensive

I was kind of hoping I could just get small length of the same type of wire, and use wire nuts to splice it in--I didn't realize that I would need junction boxes. (You can tell I'm not an electrical expert.)

It's a separate washer and dryer, both electric. Actually, now I've done some more checking, and the washer is fine--just the dryer doesn't work. It's actually the only thing that is plugged in (with a big plug) in a single receptical directly below where I put the stupid screw in. I carved a little of the dry wall away and can see the small hole in the wire. Is it feasible that I could just split the wire at that point and put a small length of cable between the two, then patch the drywall back? Or, if to do it right I have to have the splices in a junction box, could I just use one, with a small length of cable making the connection to the old wiring within it? I definitely want to do it safely and to the generally accepted way, though.

Thanks for the reponses. I'll definitely give a status report of what happens. It can't be too long, either, as my wife is not happy that I just killed her dryer...

-Dan
 
  #4  
Old 10-10-04, 08:12 PM
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Each splice must be in a junction box. It is against code to drywall over them.
 
  #5  
Old 10-10-04, 10:47 PM
Savant
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First off, if you know for sure you hit the dryer cable then either shut off the breaker or remove the fuses for the dryer . (depending on what kind of panel you have) Don't power it on again until you have completed the repair.

If it is the dryer line, then it will be possible to put just ONE juction box in on the wall and then pull back the cable from the dryer outlet to the new junction box. Once you have the cable in the box, you can run a new piece of cable from the junction box to the dryer plug box.

Make sure you get a big enough junction box, preferably the 4" square variety since the standard octagons are a tight fit and may not be big enough in terms of cubic inch capacity. (depending on the box size) You don't want to fight the wires anyway, so get the 4" square box and do it that way. As noted, the box cover needs to remain accessible, but that doesn't mean you HAVE to put the box near the break. You could follow the cable back before the break and put it anywhere it's convienient (and acessible), so long as you can freely run the wire to the existing dryer plug.

As with any electrical work, mistakes can kill. Here is a copy of a story where a young man was killed in August by an improperly wired dryer. Saving money is nice, but it's never worth a life. Make sure you can do the job safely.

Regards,

Savant
 
  #6  
Old 10-11-04, 12:26 AM
Snape
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Hi Guys, just an idea why dont you fish in a new cable using the old length that is damaged, or am i right in saying that it is agaisnt code to have loose dangling wires do they have to be clipped down onto the studs walls etc..

Thanks
 
  #7  
Old 10-11-04, 04:35 AM
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What is probably easiest is to simply shorten the cable to the dryer by a foot or so. If the damage to the cable is close to the dryer receptacle then you can simply move the receptacle and shorten the cable. You will then have a hole in the drywall to repair, where the receptacle is located now, but that is probably simpler than adding to boxes and patching in a short piece of cable.
 
  #8  
Old 10-11-04, 06:51 AM
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With only one box, there will not be enough room to make the connections with the existing cable. But since the the failure is close to the dryer receptacle, it should be easy enough to replace the segment of the cable between the dryer receptacle and your new permanently accessible junction box (Savant's idea). This would allow you to get by with only one box. Or maybe you could just move the receptacle up to where the failure is (Bob's idea). Would the dryer cord reach?

Based on the new information, it's clear that this is a 240/120 line.

Pulling new cable using the old cable to pull with will be impossible. But it is true that you do not need to staple down the new cable.

Whatever you do, make sure you use the correct size and type of cable (probably either 10-guage SE or 10/2 NM-B or 10/3 NM-B depending on when this was constructed), and be sure to make most excellent connections. This isn't a place to get sloppy or cut corners, that's for sure.
 
  #9  
Old 10-11-04, 08:24 AM
daneyul
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Thanks for all the replies!

It's a little high (about 4 feet) above the recepticle to move it there, plus that's right where the shelf that caused my problems will eventually be, so I think I'll give replacing the wire to the recepticle, and using one junction box a try. One problem is I don't have much depth--it goes about 2 inches before hitting cement block, so I guess the junction box will just have to partiall stick out, assuming they don't make 'em that shallow.

It sounds really simple to just wire in the new cord...but, that link to the young man that got electrocuted is enough to make me hire someone (then again, someone was evidently hired in that case, too). Was it just a matter of them switching the hot wire with the ground incorrectly? I'm getting a bit paranoid now...

I'll report back on it when done...hopefully by tommorrow night.

-Dan
 
  #10  
Old 10-11-04, 09:42 AM
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They do make shallow receptacle boxes. You will have to look for one. They are generally metal, not plastic. You may have trouble finding an old work type box in a smaller depth.

Regardless, you need a properly sized box. The box must be secured. An old work box secures to the wallboard, while regular boxes are designed to secure to the stub. You may very well end up makeing a larger hole in the sheetrock and then patching when you are finished.

You will need a piece of 10/3 (assuming this is a normal dryer on a 30 amp breaker. However, if for some reason the wiring is larger (e.g. 8 gauge) then go with the larger size wire.
 
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