Fire Hazard? or poor installation? or both?


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Old 01-15-07, 09:44 AM
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Fire Hazard? or poor installation? or both?

I live in an old house (90-ish) that has been totally renovated by the previous owners, including all new plumbing. I have a shower head with a low flow rate (the tub rate is fine), so I took the face plate of the faucet (mixing type) off and looked inside. To my surpise I saw that the contracter had used a 2 1/2" hole saw on the stud in order to allow the copper hot water supply pipe to reach the mixing faucet.

What was really surprising was seeing the charcoal evidence of the stud being on fire. The charcoal appears to have a penetration of about 1/8" and extends about 4" above the hot water pipe and <2" below the pipe. I can tell that the fire was after the hole was cut in the stud because there is charcoal on the inside of the hole.

Additionally, there is a electrical wire running down the stud that appears to have the insulation melted as well - though all of the house electrics appear to be working fine.

So what I am really curious about is - could the water pipe have caused the fire? It doesn't touch the wood at any point and the water is not abnormally hot (I have the water at almost fully hot when showering).

Alternatively, could the fire have caused by careless soldering at the faucet manifold (which is only a few inches from the stud)? I have never heard of water water pipes causing fires, and also I struggle with the concept of a fire big enough to create charcoal, snuffing itself out unless the space it is in is totally airproof (I doubt it is).

Also, there is no evidence of fire on the wallboard opposite or the shower stall itself.

In any case, I know I should replace the wire. Are there any other concerns I should have? (insulating hot water pipes, re-enforcing the stud with a 2 1/2" hole in it)

Naturally, I am hesitant to pull down a wall or take out the shower without good reason. Any suggestions will be much appreciated.
 
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Old 01-15-07, 10:48 AM
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Charcoal on studs

What I think what you have is that the so-called plumber that did the original installation did not have a clue of what he was doing. A 2/1/2 inch hole for a 1/2 inch line? Don't worry about the charcoal.

The water pipe will not cause a fire.

The electric line will have to be addressed. Lots of luck.

.....................................................................
"If all else fails, read the directions"
 

Last edited by twelvepole; 01-16-07 at 05:46 AM. Reason: Non-progressive language removed
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Old 01-15-07, 04:29 PM
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When was the valve installed. Today? While a 2 1/2" hole is big I don't think your hose will fall down. Look at the wire. Probably only the sheathing is damaged. Is the wood hot I doubt it catches fire. I've been doing this 20 years. Tried ever trick in the book. Wood gets hot and burned some when soldering in a tight space. Don't worry.
 
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Old 01-15-07, 04:42 PM
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the charred wood doesn't bother me , the 2 1/2 in hole isn't going to hurt anything .

if the wire has melted insulation it will need to be replaced

whats on the wall behind it ?

you could cut a large piece out to inspect , and repair then patch it .

a '90s home is old ???
 
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Old 01-16-07, 05:42 AM
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Thanks all

Thanks to all who responded - I feel much better now.

I will definitely cut out a patch of drywall and replace the wire. There is easy access from the other side of the wall.

A side question: If the wire extends unbroken through the bathroom wall, is it kosher to splice in a new piece of wire (suitably covered) even though it is running next to a water pipe?

I am much comforted that my suspicions about a sloppy plumber have be supported.

Oh, and my house is about 90 years old - at least the exterior is, much of the interior is brand new.
 
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Old 01-16-07, 06:53 AM
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No hot water pipe would cause that fire. Even hot water heating pipes which carry water much hotter than your 130-170 degree supply line run touching the wood. When you kindle a fire, the temperature accelerates to around 500 F at which point the wood begins to breakdown chemically and throw off volatile gases. These gases catch fire and accelerate the temperature to about 1100 F, at which point the wood solids begin to burn. You would never get anywhere close to 500 F from even the hottest water pipe. Plumber probably put down the torch or dropped hot solder in the gap, lighting some saw dust, had the fire, put it out, and didn't repair the fire damage.

Replace the wire. even if that is a load bearing wall I doubt the hole in one stud would cause any problem.
 
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Old 01-16-07, 09:27 AM
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You can't have a splice in the wall you can't get to. Need to find the boxes the wire comes out of. Call your city codes inspecter and ask him what to do.
 
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Old 01-16-07, 09:41 AM
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Cranky is correct inasmuch as you are not allowed to splice wires anywhere other than in a permenantly accessible box. If you can access the boxes that the wiring originates/ends in - you will be fine.... Otherwise, you'll have to figure out how to put an electrical box (s) at the point of the new splices and have a cover plate that leaves them accessible at all times.... It's a pain in the rear - but it's for your safety and convenience.
 
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Old 01-17-07, 10:29 AM
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Thanks for the help (again).

I was afraid that you guys might say something about needing to pull the wire. Hmmmm.... I can't splice in a new piece without putting in two junction boxes (the missus won't have that). I guess I will have to see about pulling the whole wire - this is turning into a bigger job than I want it to be
 
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Old 01-17-07, 01:02 PM
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Hi, I'm no pro but I do understand that you need 2 j-boxes and a new piece of cable because there is not enough slack for one J-box. Do you have the option of installing the 2 boxes and then, instead of re-walling permanently, can you dress up the repair as an "access panel?". Would the access panel remedy the code requirement of your new j-boxes being accessible? Just a thot here.
 
 

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