Old Service Wires

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Old 02-20-14, 02:55 PM
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Old Service Wires

My service wires (between meter and panel) are the original cloth maybe rubberized covered 50 year old wire. They appear to be aluminum (or is it tinned copper?). The insulation looks old but there is no exposed metal. The strands are a nice silver metallic color but I noticed two things

One was a small fleck of rust what looked to be on the wire, under one of the lugs?

Also the neutral is in its lug/slot on top of the busbar. It looks like there is some crusted up dried stuff on the slot with it. I know they use a compound on the connections.... does that stuff dry up over time?

Should these 50 year old cables look pristine?

I had a electrician look at the panel and he mentioned not seeing anything out of the ordinary. It was after he left that I took a second look and saw these items.
 
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Old 02-20-14, 07:12 PM
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50 year old service cable is probably copper, can you post some pictures of the problem areas. That being said, the life of service cable insulation is usually somewhat less than 50 years depending on the exposure to rain and UV rays.
 
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Old 02-21-14, 05:28 AM
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PHOTOS TO FOLLOW

Does the anti-ox stuff they put on the lugs, does it dry or cake over time? I am noticing some sort of crumbly stuff on the bottom of the neutral lug in the panel.

If it was corrosion/burn/or something otherwise needing correction on the neutral, generally what would it look like?

Its not likely aluminum right? Its a tinned copper I assuming?
 

Last edited by ardmi; 02-21-14 at 06:12 AM.
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Old 02-21-14, 06:07 AM
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Heres some photos, please take a look. The first one I am most concerned with, the crusty stuff on the bottom of the neutral lug:

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I pointed out this discolor on the main bus (photo below) to an electrician who said it looked like overheating at one point but not to worry? since there were no signs of it still occurring? I also have seen similar "rainbow" color on NEW breaker panel parts which maybe this is part of the manufacturing process?

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Old 02-21-14, 08:05 AM
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It looks like copper wires to me. The whitish crusty stuff on the neutral lug looks like corrosion. I'd remove the wire and clean it and the lug and re-terminate. The left bus (assuming this is coming from the main breaker) does look like overheating has occurred. How much load is on the panel? Has the main breaker ever been changed? This is just a guess, but the overheating may have occurred when there was a period of high load on the main breaker. I think it deserves some additional consideration and testing.

I pointed out this discolor on the main bus (photo below) to an electrician who said it looked like overheating at one point but not to worry?
Till you load the main breaker, there is no way to know if the overheating is still occurrring. I suspect that it is.
 
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Old 02-21-14, 08:31 AM
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Do you think I have a serious issue here, one warranted of having an electrician out ASAP.....
 
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Old 02-21-14, 08:37 AM
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Do you think I have a serious issue here, one warranted of having an electrician out ASAP.....
It's extremely difficult to make that determination without being there. Is there any odor associated with the discolored bus/main breaker? Do you know if the main breaker has ever been changed? If I had an electrician check it out, I think I'd call someone different this time for a 2nd opinion. I'd also like to see a picture higher up showing the main breaker along with the discolored bus connection.
 
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Old 02-21-14, 09:52 AM
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I am not sure if that main was replaced Joe.

The thing is I am guessing there would be burned plastic around those bus bar stabs if there was excessive overheating, there is no burned plastic at all.

Moisture did get in the panel at some point. I replaced one breaker on top that had rusty water stain on it. You can see I added duct seal to the opening. Could moisture have caused either of these symptoms?

Do you think that white crap on the neutral is dried up Anti-Ox?
 
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Old 02-21-14, 02:04 PM
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Do you think that white crap on the neutral is dried up Anti-Ox?
No, it's oxidation from the moisture that has been in the panel. I'd still like to see a picture of the main breaker.
 
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Old 02-21-14, 02:13 PM
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I was thinking oxidation meant black/burn. So your thinking that crusty stuff is from moisture and not heat.

I cant get a photo of the main for awhile. That's half of the main there in the bottom photo,

I sealed the entry into the panel and replaced the one breaker that did appear to have some moisture stain on top.

Would turning off the main and picking that stuff off the lug be a good idea? Can it be cleaned without removing the wire?

I know impossible probably to say but do you think that amount of crud on that lug indicates a loose or loosening connection?
 
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Old 02-21-14, 02:37 PM
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It's oxidation, not a burn. The wire needs to be removed to properly clean it up.

I know impossible probably to say but do you think that amount of crud on that lug indicates a loose or loosening connection?
No, it just oxidized because of moisture.
 
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