Cracked Neutral Conductor Insulation


Old 07-22-13, 07:07 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Enola, PA
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Cracked Neutral Conductor Insulation


I have a potential problem that's really been bothering me. Last night, I changed a light fixture in one of our bedrooms from what was previously installed. There were no problems with the actual installation of the fixture. However, when I was bending the neutral (white) wire to splice with the nut cap, I noticed the insulation cracked a few inches from where it emerges from the romex jacket in the ceiling and about 5-6 inches from where the other end is spliced (with the nut cap).

It's definitely too far up for me to really do anything about it, so I wrapped the crack up with a moderate amount of electrical tape just to cover it with something. The neutral doesn't appear to be burnt, discolored, or damaged in any other way. Our townhome is about 15 years old, so I'm a little baffled how the insulation could have gotten that brittle in such a short period of time without being damaged. The crack is about 1/4" long (along the wire) and about 1/16" wide (the exposed opening). Again, it's wrapped up well with tape, but I know this is only a short term fix at best.

I'm looking for advice on how to address this issue. Should I hire someone to install a box in the attic and run new wire through the ceiling, or is there something I can do to repair the crack since it's rather small (i.e. shrink tubing, etc.)?

Thanks in advance for the responses!

Kenny Foltz
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Old 07-22-13, 07:37 AM
PJmax's Avatar
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I carry shrink tubing in white, black and red for problems just like that.

You wouldn't expect to see the insulation cracking in 15 year old wire. Possibly the wire was older stock that was used. The other thing is incandescent lamps generate a lot of heat and that heat may have baked the wire.
Old 07-22-13, 07:58 AM
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The other thing is incandescent lamps generate a lot of heat and that heat may have baked the wire.
That was my first thought, the old fixture may have been lamped beyond the maximum wattage rating of the fixture.
Old 07-22-13, 07:59 AM
Join Date: Oct 2012
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It's very likely the original installer slit the romex with a utility knife and cut into the neutral insulation in the process.
Old 07-22-13, 12:25 PM
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I too suspect a nick for skinning the cable sheath. I would slide heat shrink tubing over the wire and shrink it.

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