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How to Insulate Damaged Existing Wires with Heat Shrink Tubing
When working on old wiring in your home it is important to inspect the condition of the wiring's insulation. The insulation used on old wiring can fray and become brittle, literally crumbling in your hand as the wire conductor is moved.
In the above photo you can see how the insulation is brittle and wiring is actually exposed. This condition is very dangerous and can create short circuits and fire hazard. Ordinarily, you can just wrap 2 or 3 wraps of electrical tape around the damaged area.... However, with old, brittle insulation, it will come apart and be made worse as you try to wrap the old wire and insulation with electrical tape. Fortunately, this can be fairly easily fixed using something called "Heat Shrink Tubing" as I'll describe in the next step.Continue to 2 of 2 below.
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Using Heat Shrink Tubing to Insulate Damaged Existing Wires
Heat shrink tubing is a special plastic that shrinks up when heat is applied to it. I usually use a butane heat torch with this tubing but because old wiring's insulation jacket is usually flammable I used a hair dyer on "high" and it works pretty well, just takes a bit longer.
You'll find that heat shrink tubing comes in a variety of sizes. To install it just proceed as follows:
- Shut off power to the electrical circuit at your power panel by flipping the circuit breaker to the... "off" position
- Pick a diameter of tubing that will go over the wiring but not be too big. If it is too big it will not shrink up tightly.
- Cut the tubing to length so that the exposed end of the wire will still be visible.
- Slide the tubing about 3/4" past the damaged area of the insulation.
- Apply heat to shrink the tubing by placing a hair dryer on "high" close to the tubing. Gently move the hair dryer back and forth to try and evenly distribute the heat.
- Once the tubing shrinks up, remove the hair dryer, you are done!
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