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Fire Technology

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 107–147 | Cite as

An Evaluation of Old Armored Cables in Building Wiring Systems

  • John E. Sleights
Article

Abstract

Armored cable has been used in building wiring systems since the early 1900s and remains an accepted wiring method today. The original product developed in the early 1900s and that which is commercially available today have significant differences in construction and performance. Likewise the demand and expectation of building wiring systems has changed. This paper explores some of those differences as well as concerns and hazards presented by the continued use of older constructions of armored cable. Testing was performed on samples of aged cables removed from service to determine impedance and temperature rise of the armor when conducting AC current. The results were compared to the DC resistance of the armor as well as the applicable Underwriters Laboratories standard. The performance of cable samples was also tested in construction configurations likely to be encountered in buildings. Results indicate that ground fault currents conducted via the armor of older cable constructions can result in fire and shock hazards where the impedance and circuit characteristics limit the fault current to below the trip level of the circuit overcurrent protective device. Temperature rise of the armor can easily exceed the rating of the conductor insulation contained therein and in some cases present a fire hazard to combustible material in contact with the cable.

Keywords

Armored cable Aging wiring system Impedance Insulation Fire 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the countless members of the electrical and fire protection communities who have contributed information, samples, historical data and real world experiences to aid in this project. Dave Dini of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. was particularly supportive in assisting with research and interpretation of that organization’s material. Readers who are interested in the development of residential wiring materials and practices can refer to Ref. [25] for an historical perspective by Mr. Dini. Dave Shapiro of Safety First Electrical Contracting, Consulting and Safety Education provided historical information, a practical perspective and vintage materials for testing and construction of circuits.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Travelers Engineering LaboratoryWindsorUSA

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