11:45AM | 02/27/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
You stated the wiring existing was BRITTLE.

This IS the problem, plus those old fixtures originally had a warning that said 60 watt max type A bulbs so using 100 watt bulbs only increased the trouble!

The whole thing is like this:

The 60 degree C and 75 degree C and 90 degree C ratings refer to the temperature (ambient) that the insulation can protect the conductor safely. That old TW and old sheathed electrical cable wire was 60 degrees C (or possibly rated at 75 degrees C for over 100 amp applications).

The HEAT generated by an incandescent bulb is HUGE compared to the light "candles" it produces. Its engergy requirements similarly imbalanced, hence making it a very inefficient lighting source.

The problem is JUST WHAT YOU DESCRIBED THAT YOU FOUND!! Brittle, dried out (that old insulation was rubber based), sometimes burnt, sometimes oxidized insulation and wiring. THIS IS A SOURCE OF an ARC-FAULT and or heat sourced FIRE. YES you are at risk, YES you have a problem, and YES the rest of your home where other such wiring situations exist are at danger. This danger increases over time.

The USEFUL life of your cable was 20-25 years as originally designed, assuming it was NEVER EXPOSED to over-voltages/amps and excessive heat, and other such age-reducing hazards.

The HEAT generated by 3 x 60 watt bulbs in the ceiling fixture, let alone 100 watt bulb(s) PLUS the ambient temperature of a box and cabling in the ATTIC (without added burden of heat generated by the lightbulbs themselves that's already over 51 degrees C) your cabling probably has aged expidentially. Yes you need to inspect your wiring, it is the insulation that is at greatest risk and if brittle, it isn't protecting against arcs between the hot and neutral in your sheathed electrical cable itself!

In general, if the cabling is a-okay, yes it is possible to "pig-tail" to a box the existing 60 degree (ASSUMING ITS GOOD/SAFE) then junction to 90 degree and run the 90 degree to the FIXTURE box, but each and EVERY bit of wiring to that fixture box, coming and going and THROUGH that box must be 90-degree rated to its next point at 3-plus feet away.

Frankly I would't trust 30 year old sheathed electrical cable in an attic for any reason, its already beyond its "useful life", as originally intended. I'd replace the entirety with EMT enclosed THHN of the correct rating for distance, derated for conduit and attic.


11:46AM | 02/27/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
Remember EZ bake ovens, and Suzy Homemaker ovens? They BAKED A CAKE with a 25 watt bulb!


10:19PM | 03/17/05
Member Since: 03/17/05
5 lifetime posts
That label on a fixure I bought gave me pause. I was about to go return it to the store but decided to do a websearch on the subject instead. I'm glad I did. It sounds like I'll definitely be good to go if I just put some 14 w compact fluorescents in the fixture.

I don't buy incandescent bulbs anymore as it is.

Do they even make light fixtures for 60C wiring anymore?


12:43PM | 03/19/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
Not if it bears a UL label and/or other label claiming to meet the UL standard, no they don't.

They also don't or shouldn't make cloth covered conductors anymore either, nor knob & tube wiring replacments, who wants the liability?

The problem with not doing a simple little bit of wiring replacement, is that at any time someone might screw in an "edison type" bulb and poof trouble. replacing or adding a pig-tail box isn't that expensive nor difficult in your exposed attic, I truly don't understand your resistance. Also, hope you bothered to "surf" the UL site and NFPA (the org that writes the NEC), also the US gov site for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and read the statistics on home fires and deaths caused by wiring errors/failing to head warnings and household electrical conductors that have not been replaced besides having been beyond their "useful life". Tom and I were 100% correct.


06:46PM | 03/21/05
Member Since: 03/17/05
5 lifetime posts
I'm doing good connecting the white wire to the white wire actually. I have no idea what a pigtail box is.

I do know the wiring in my house is not cloth covered. It's inside a flexible metal conduit and it's a two wire system. Someone added a second breaker box at some point after the house was built.

When I put up the fixtures the wires looked good. Last year my brother who is an electrician showed me how to put up ceiling fans and he said the wiring was in good shape.

I had a choice between leaving up hazardous and busted light fixtures or putting up newer safer ones. The fixtures in the kitchen were in awful shape and I'm not sure how they got that way. The porcelain 'cup' around the light socket was busted off. The previous owners of this house rented it to people who did beastly things to it.

I am not in a position to hire someone to rewire my house, nor do I at this point know how to myself. I bought my house because a house payment was cheaper than rent!


08:34PM | 03/22/05
Member Since: 03/17/05
5 lifetime posts
I forgot to mention this: The fixtures have a sticker that says 60 watt bulbs are the maximum that should be used in that fixture. What's to stop some pinhead from slapping a pair of 100 watt bulbs up there?


01:48PM | 03/23/05
Member Since: 01/08/05
7 lifetime posts
Funny thing. I started this thread when I bought new fixtures and read the tiny "supply conductor" label, which I bet most people miss.

Next to the label that says 60w max bulbs, I wrote, with a sharpie, in very large letters:" WARNING- USE ONLY 14 WATT COMPACT FLUORESCENT BULBS - FIRE HAZARD".

No one will ever change a light bulb in any of those fixtures without reading that label. They have been warned. Even though my warning label is unofficial, I think it will be more effective, since it will always be seen and read.

I love my new light fixtures and feel good about my decision to install them.


01:58PM | 03/23/05
Member Since: 03/17/05
5 lifetime posts
I was gonna do the exact same thing!

I'm very pleased with the way my new fixtures look too. My kitchen and pantry are so bright now. The style is such that they look fabulous in my old house up there on my smooth plaster ceilings. They have those thick alabaster glass covers held on with a fancy looking nut and 'washer.'


05:19AM | 03/26/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
Okay, go back and read the entire post string A11. Glass enclosed fixtures will enclose the heat and direct it to the conductors in the BOX that your connections to the fixture are in, that heat will transmit via the electrical conductors (wires) and deteriorate the insulation on them.

A pigtail box: You have accessible attic. you create a box between the wiring now and the fixture that is at least three feet away. take the wiring to the old box and direct it here to the new box, then run newer 90 degree rated wiring from the new box to the old box. Make sure that only newer wiring goes into/out of and through the old box. That's the "pig tail". You don't have to rewire the entire house, just the portion of the wiring that goes to, from and through the box containing the fixture, its pretty simple and easy and cheap. 60 degrees C is rather cool in the world of enclosed areas in a home near ceilings that are being baked by a lightbulb, 90 degrees C is up near 160-180 degrees or more plus F (100 degrees C is 212 degrees F). If this is an attic, it gets pretty HOT up there when the sun shines on it in the summer, PLUS you're adding the HEAT from the lightbulb generating even more.

Its a pretty simple project to repull wire through plastic conduit and the cost of proper THHN (90 degrees F) is pretty cheap.
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