Stumped by old wire

edo222February 22, 2014

I'm renovating upstairs bedroom in a old house and came across a wire in the attic coming from a pony panel in the kitchen through a medal conduit. It is three wires tightly twisted together and going in to a fake roof line. can not find it again in the old attic. In the pony panel the red and black have been twisted in to one and connected to a black from the main panel and white to white. after disconnecting the black only one outlet in the house stopped working. what purpose does it possible have beside feeding on outlet. Our house is from the early 1910 kitchen build on around 1950 and why twist red and black in to one

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Combining the conductors was probably a method of identifying them.
Have you identified what the red feeds?

Present codes require separate and protected circuits in the kitchen, while in the origin of your dwelling fewer appliances were available.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 11:35AM
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Because the wire disapears in to the roof line I have not been able to track the end down, only to that one outlet. Combining the conductors to identify makes sense. I was wondering if that one
outlet was for a fridge since it ends in the kitchen. [Not where the fridge is now] would combining red and black give more consistent power since there is no ground going to that outlet? splitting the outlet from one fuse does not make sense ether.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 12:05PM
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Consistency was probably not the thought and more than likely two separate feeds too minor use such as an occasional need for a outdoor light or possibly a garage feed.

The "back yard mechanics" of the time took a rather cavalier attitude towards an evolving technology and often to there detriment, were damned if they were going to let it get the better of them.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 1:10PM
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Thanks for the follow up. I will properly rewire the one outlet with a new grounded wire and if nothing else stops working disconnect this old wire for good. maybe even squeeze my 6'4" frame in to our 4'x 4' slanted attic space. If i get stuck I will keep posting via mobile :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 1:32PM
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Red,black and white wires is for 240 volts. The wires were likly supplying 240 volts to something near the outlet. You might find the missing wire inside the outlet box,either twisted with other wire and connected to brass screw on outlet,or simply capped off. If all three are in the outlet box,for goodness sake paint the red wire GREEN at both ends if you decide to use it as the ground( certainly not recomending you not pull new wires to the outlet).

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 12:18AM
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"Red,black and white wires is for 240 volts. The wires were likly supplying 240 volts to something near the outlet."

Not really. Black and red does NOT automatically mean 240V. Many handyman and DIY are under the misconception that it does though.
With smaller wire (#14, #12) it is typically a sign of a multi-wire (shared neutral) branch circuit.

Also, DO NOT "paint the red wire green". This is dangerous advice since you have no idea what this wire is doing.

Klem, at the risk of sounding cold, please stick to giving advice on subjects you are a professional at. Leave electrical advice to those who know proper codes and practices.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:51AM
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posted some pictures on the electrical forum. maybe makes it a bit clearer. Thanks for all the feedback

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 1:04PM
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I'm not an electrician, so maybe someone can help me out.

IIRC there are times when it is permissible to "abandon in place" electrical wires.

To prevent someone reconnecting the supply/panel end and remotely energizing a set of wires, the remote end is tied together so as to insure a breaker or fuse trips rather than a person or equipment becomes unexpectedly energized.

Ring a bell?

EDIT: Did some Google reading... seems like this is in fact a practice followed by some electricians - and abhorred by other electricians.

This post was edited by saltidawg on Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 16:09

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 1:51PM
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