pigtailing...why do this?...Do I need to do this?

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Old 02-03-08, 03:39 PM
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pigtailing...why do this?...Do I need to do this?

I have a 41 year old house with what appears to be original wiring..."knot & tube" (one black, one white and one green ground. Recently we experienced a loss of power to part of the house. I checked/reset circuit breakers to no avail. We had an electrician come in and he found one of our outlets had "shorted". He replaced the outlet/receptacle and all is well. He mentioned two things to us and suggested we get an electrciain in to resolve them....

1.) the house is wired with "reverse polarity"(black & white wires swapped)...do we need to have this resolved??? The house has been wired this way for 41 years and it hasn't burned down yet. I was wondering if he was just trying to drum up work or if we really need to get this "fixed".

2.) none of the receptacle or switches or originally "wired" hardware have "pigtail" connections. I have been researching these comments and see that one of the common "probable" causes for the short in the outlet we just had replaced is "backpushed" connections. I was thinking of
pulling the receptacles and replacing them with "pigtailed" new ones. This is a bit of work with about 30 receptacles and 20 switches. Here is the question....do I really "need" to do this.

Thanks
Cliff
 
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Old 02-03-08, 04:23 PM
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Cliff: You may not "need" to do it, but to explain why it is done may help you decide. We usually pigtail the neutral from receptacle to receptacle. If you look at it, should one neutral come loose from your receptacle, all the receptacles downline from that one will malfunction. Being pigtailed ensures this neutral is continuous throughout the run. Backstabs are the worst for coming loose and causing the problem of an open neutral. Replacing the wires around the screw heads is always best. Now, as for wiring, check your breaker/fuse box. What color are the wires going to the buss bar (neutral) and what color goes to the hot part of the fuse/breaker?
 
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Old 02-03-08, 04:34 PM
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Many insurance companies will not insure a house with K&T. That said, there is noting wrong with it if it is good condition. It cannot be expanded or added to, however. And I have never seen K&T system with a ground wire, an obvious addition, but not a bad one. As suggested above, pigtailing can eliminate downstream failure problems. In the event of an outlet problem, the chain is unbroken. I would consider upgrading all your wiring before I would consider pigtailing outlets. That is 75-100yr. old wirng and should not be disturbed any more than is necessary.
 
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Old 02-03-08, 05:07 PM
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There probably isn't K&T in a 41 year old house. Probably more like an older version of Romex (NM) that looks pretty similar to modern stuff.

Knob and tube wiring does not have a white, black, and ground, rather it is two individual rubber and cloth insulated wires (usually black) installed on porcelain insulators. It was installed up to the '40s.

Is this what you have?
 
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Old 02-03-08, 05:20 PM
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[QUOTE=J.D.S.;1308229]There probably isn't K&T in a 41 year old house. Probably more like an older version of Romex (NM) that looks pretty similar to modern stuff.

Knob and tube wiring does not have a white, black, and ground, rather it is two individual rubber and cloth insulated wires (usually black) installed on porcelain insulators. It was installed up to the '40s.

Is this what you have?

I would concur with your statement...it is probably Romex...I just assumed that it was K&T from descriptions I found in other places...but I guess that really doesn't matter what the existing infrastructure is ...I still am trying to understand how/why "pigtailing" will impact circuit continuity. The electrician installed a new receptacle and added three wires to the receptacle and then "capped" it to the existing house wiring...did he really "pigtail" this in or just add three wires between the receptacle and the house wiring?
Thanks
Cliff
 
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Old 02-03-08, 05:36 PM
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The electrician installed a new receptacle and added three wires to the receptacle and then "capped" it to the existing house wiring...did he really "pigtail" this in or just add three wires between the receptacle and the house wiring?
Here is an example of a pigtail connection:

(This would be done for all wires obviously) Is this how it is?
I still am trying to understand how/why "pigtailing" will impact circuit continuity.
You see, since the circuit wires do not attach directly to the device, the receptacle could be removed and the downstream receptacles would still have power. This is instead of both sets of wires attaching to both sets of screws.
 
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Old 02-03-08, 05:42 PM
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so you had an electrician come in and tell you to call an electrician. how classical.
Originally Posted by Cliph55 View Post
I have a 41 year old house with what appears to be original wiring..."knot & tube" (one black, one white and one green ground. Recently we experienced a loss of power to part of the house. I checked/reset circuit breakers to no avail. We had an electrician come in and he found one of our outlets had "shorted". He replaced the outlet/receptacle and all is well. He mentioned two things to us and suggested we get an electrciain in to resolve them....

1.) the house is wired with "reverse polarity"(black & white wires swapped)...do we need to have this resolved??? The house has been wired this way for 41 years and it hasn't burned down yet. I was wondering if he was just trying to drum up work or if we really need to get this "fixed".

2.) none of the receptacle or switches or originally "wired" hardware have "pigtail" connections. I have been researching these comments and see that one of the common "probable" causes for the short in the outlet we just had replaced is "backpushed" connections. I was thinking of
pulling the receptacles and replacing them with "pigtailed" new ones. This is a bit of work with about 30 receptacles and 20 switches. Here is the question....do I really "need" to do this.

Thanks
Cliff
 
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Old 02-03-08, 07:19 PM
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pigtailing continued...

[QUOTE=J.D.S.;1308244]Here is an example of a pigtail connection:

(This would be done for all wires obviously) Is this how it is?

You see, since the circuit wires do not attach directly to the device, the receptacle could be removed and the downstream receptacles would still have power. This is instead of both sets of wires attaching to both sets of screws.
------------------
Awesome...I now understand exactly what "pigtailing" is...Thanks you very much.

So, he made it a parallel circuit instead of a series circuit by adding the small piece in...he disconnected the black "in" (power side) and the black "out" which leads to the next outlet, capped them together along with a single piece which he connected to the Black/power side of the outlet...he did the same with the whites as well...is this normal???..to do the neutral/white side the same way he did the power/black side?

Cliff
 
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Old 02-04-08, 12:21 AM
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Pigtailing (instead of using the screws) reduces the number of connections to the downstream receptacles (2 screw terminals vs 1 connection when wires are twisted together). They also do not rely on the device for continuity.

Based on the age of your house, it might have aluminum wiring. If it does, you may want to read up on it and contact an electrician who specializes in it.
 
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Old 02-04-08, 02:23 AM
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So, he made it a parallel circuit instead of a series circuit by adding the small piece in
Sort of......But terminology between electrical and ELECTRONICS often gets twisted up, and can get you in trouble, if not applied properly.

Ive always been taught to think of electrical wiring as PLUMBING......If you found a way to get it in, there must be a way to get it out.

If you cut a piece of pipe and spliced in a faucet, everything downstream would fail to have pressure when you used the faucet....
now.. take that same faucet and "TEE " it into the pipe...problem solved...
Hence the purpose of pigtails... You are just "TEE-ING" the electric to the outlet.
The "REVERSED POLARITY" has me worried though....
Buy a Cheap 3 prong outlet tester, and check EVERY outlet in the house. If they are wired "REVERSED" the tester will indicate this. At under 10 bucks....its cheaper than calling an electrician, and may put your mind at ease regarding the current electricians credibility.
 
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Old 02-04-08, 04:55 AM
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OOpppsss, I missed the statement about "41 yrs old". Definitely not K&T, sorry for skimming the question.
Since you have questions about household wiring that are often hard to answer in this limited space, consider picking up a book on the subject from a home/hardware store. They have much greater detail and diagrams than we can provide here.
 
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