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Old Wiring Identification from 1941

Posted by RobsterSF (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 22, 11 at 20:41

The apartments I reside in were built in 1941. The wiring is very old. Copper core with black cloth type insulator. Luckily everything is run in conduit however I found bare exposed wire in some runs. My plan is to pull all new wire in time however at the moment, when replacing switches and outlets, there is no easy way to identify the hot and neutral lines as they look identical. Is there any simple trick to determining which is which with a volt meter? I have one from Fluke very similar to the one in the link below. This will come in handy when adding switches/outlets and also when replacing the lines with updated properly color coded wiring. Also the conduits are used as the ground, no green ground wires in any box.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Old Wiring Identification from 1941

You can't assume the conduit is grounded unless you check that it's continuous back to the grounding electrodes. The easiest way to tell grounded (neutral) form hot conductor is to use either a non-contact tester or one of the little neon ones that use your body as enough of a ground OR if you have a ground, put a meter or neon bulb between the suspected hot and the ground and you should get an indication. Touching the ground to neutral will do nothing.

The meter will be useful to test things. You'll need to use the probes in the plugs. The clamp-on only reads current.

RE: Old Wiring Identification from 1941

Only licensed electricians and maintenance employees of corporate property owners are permitted to do electrical work on apartments.

RE: Old Wiring Identification from 1941

...but but he has a cool meter.

RE: Old Wiring Identification from 1941

I thought one of the top reasons to live in an apartment or renting in general was to be able to pick up the phone and dial a number and eventually you would come home from work and things would be fixed.

I would recommend putting the meter down and picking up the phone. I think you have the ability to do the work with the right research, I just don't want you to get in trouble. Its not worth it.

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