Old Electrical Cable


Old 09-12-06, 08:34 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 29
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Question Old Electrical Cable

Our bathroom ceiling fan is in desperate need of replacement. When I climbed up into the attic and traced the connection I noticed that the wire is the very old type of canvas covered electrical cable. The cable was completely covered by insulation. I am concerned that it is a fire hazard and would like to replace it with a modern cable. Sine the attic is loaded with insulation I am having a hard time tracing the cable.

Should I be concerned about this old cable being a fire hazard?

What would be the easiest way to trace the cable?

What would be the best choice of cable to use?

Thanks in advance.
Old 09-12-06, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 7,800
Received 307 Votes on 263 Posts
If it is a cable you are fine. If it is individual conductors on ceramic knobs then it should not be covered.
Old 09-12-06, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,970
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
If you are talking about fabric covered NM cable, then you would replace it with new NM cable. NM means non-metallic.

If the cable you have is in good shape then there is no need to replace it. I would not replace it unless I had to.

As far as tracing it, the only way to go is to manually follow the cable. You can do this by moving on your hands and knees in the attic, or you can use a tick type tester. This is a tester that ticks when you are near an electrical cable. You would turn on the fan and follow the line. However, you need to be careful as it will tick for other nearby cables. You can also expect the cable to go either back to the main panel or to something else on the circuit. You should, already know what else is on the circuit, so once you get an idea where the cable goes you can make educated guesses about it's destination.

One other concern: The new fan may require 90 degree rated wire. If it does, it will say so on the box. If it does then you MUST replace the cable, or at least the last two feet or so. To do this, you buy and install a junction box in the attic. You run the existing cable into the junction box and then run a new piece of cable from the junction box to the new fan. In the junction box you attach wire for wire between the old and new cables using wire nuts If the old cable has no ground, then simply leave the new ground wire disconnected, or attached to the box if it is metal. Then put a blank cover on the junction box.
Old 09-12-06, 01:45 PM
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: North of Boston, MA.
Posts: 2,112
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
As stated:If the cable is in good shape IE: Not frayed,brittle or the internal conductors exposed, don't worry.
Most degradation I have seen is in the boxes where the cable/conductors are exposed to the air.
If any of the above exists, we will be happy to help.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: