Wiring Behind Water Heater

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  #1  
Old 03-19-07, 12:03 PM
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Wiring Behind Water Heater

My new cabin, built in the mid 50s, has a water heater accessible from its own door outside.

One of the previous owners ran some 12-2 wire, unstapled, next to the water heater in order to get from the crawl space to the attic. Furthermore, there was a taped splice right at the point where the wire came out of the crawl space - a perfect spot for the emergency valve on the water heater to drip onto. (I'm a little POed that the home inspector missed something so obvious, but that's another story.) Needless to say, I dropped everything else I was doing and removed that wire.

There are some existing older 14-2 wires that are stapled to the wall studs behind the water heater. Most of them come out of the crawl space behind the water heater. However, one of these wires comes out of the crawl space under the water heater, then does a right angle bend behind the water heater. The insulation is the old gray stuff that is starting to fray a bit at the bend.

I will need to have the water heater replaced anyway, so I have an opportunity to access the wiring. Any suggestions for how much to replace?

Thanks,
Brian
 
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Old 03-19-07, 01:13 PM
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All but the smallest of water heaters use a 30-amp circuit wired with 10/2 cable. Replace the entire run with 10/2.

As for the rest of the wiring, replace anything that has crumbling insulation. If the wiring is ungrounded, this would also be a good opportunity to provide grounding.

There's no way to tell when to stop on a project like this. It depends on your budget and your ambition. If you keep going, you'll end up completely rewiring the place. That would probably be good, but it may not be absolutely necessary.
 
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Old 03-19-07, 01:48 PM
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I'm thinking that I could add junction boxes in the attic and the crawl space. Then I could replace the wires behind the water heater while it is out. I could then work on the rest of the wiring some other time. The water heater is gas, so I don't have to worry about that. Does this approach sound reasonable?
 
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Old 03-19-07, 02:47 PM
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It's kind of hard to offer many suggestions without being able to see the wiring. Good luck on your project. Make sure you have studied up enough to do a good, safe job. You don't want to make anything worse while trying to make it better.

Junction boxes are okay, but the fewer of them the better. Every splice is a potential failure point.
 
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