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Carbon Buildup

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by PlantscapeSolutions, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    Interesting discussion. I too have had over the years, some wire where one or both conductors were patina coated, even a foot or more down from the end. I used to think it was the quality of the PVC jacket and that if it was poor quality ( as it was years ago with wire sold by the likes of Milspec Industries), but now I'll look at things differently.

    An interesting point I will add is .... years ago, I had done a job at a condo development. The original builder ran 110 volt floods under every tree and used 1 piece of 12 / 2 romex for the whole run. NO conduit, no common sense.

    Fast forward, we ran our low voltage lighting and got the system working. After it was operational, we had a couple of occasions where the lights stopped working in areas. Upon examination and troubleshooting, we found previously unknown line voltage splices which were in aluminum bell boxes and buried, which had failed.

    For years, those splices sat underground unused. The connections corroded and degrade, though they still ohmed out on a meter, and carried power initially. Once the system was complete and running, the current draw through those compromised splices cause there to be arcing and subsequently, the splices failed.

    Moral of the story- your system is only as good as the connections within.

    And the second moral... don't trust underground wiring that you didn't put in or that is not in conduit so you could replace it. We never know what others do, how they wire, how they splice and where they 'hide' their splices. As much as you all can, on a job that has some existing wiring line or low, make it your point to sell the client on the importance of installing new wiring to insure the future integrity of the system.

  2. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    George, this is where an irrigation background is really helpful. I often find exactly what you're talking about in irrigation control wires where the solenoid ohms out fine and if you disconnect it you get proper voltage but as soon as you connect the solenoid up for a real load, the voltage drops to nothing. It's always a bad splice or a wire break inside the jacket. I can usually find the problem pretty quickly but sometimes it means running a new wire.

    To the original question, I think you're seeing corrosion because of water intrusion (as others have said). You can probably get the wire clean enough to solder with a mild acid, like CLR, but if you're seeing so much corrosion that you need to acid wash the wire, I wouldn't use it. Soldering is fine if you want to take the time to do it but making the connection water tight is more important. No matter how you make your connection, I'd suggest you start using the gasket lined heat shrink to protect them. I'm amazed at how much better the wires I've used the heat shrink on look than those where I used other methods (like grease filled wire nuts) after the same amount of time in the ground.

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