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ID 3 wires and lend advice

13 posts in this topic

Mom's house is cold - not enough heat, just tepid air coming out of the registers and she might be replacing her furnace because everyone's afraid of electricity - "don't want to burn the house down."


I popped the cover off the furnace and there are three wires, two of which are melted/severed. Here is a link to my photos (and a diagram, too, in case you can read it. I can't)


I'd like to know what those three wires are called. 




Mom is getting quotes for over $2 grand for a new furnace and re-wiring with about 45' of copper wire, etc.


What can ya tell me?


Obviously, as much as I respect furnaces and electricity, I am tempted to find out what these wires are called and just replace them. I mean, they were designed to work in the first place?








Her Existing Furnace

Electrical Central Heating Furnace – 960K

Westco Air Comfort Division

Beaverton Oregon

SN B-691605


Model 15.5 RU  240V  60 HZ  1 PH

Total element amps 62.5

1/5 HP motor – 3 amps


Two Circuit

L1-L2              26.0     30A

L11-L-22         55.9     60A



First estimate

Coleman Echelon Series Variable Speed Air Handler

Air Handler MU16C ?

7 day programmable   “4000” thermostat (she doesn't necessarily want anything programmable)

15 KW heat strip

(Permits?)(are these needed?)

(Old furnace removal?)(isn't the metal worth something?)

(add duct to garage +$250)



tax              182.70

total          2282.70





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Need appliance parts? Call 877-803-7957 now!

That is simply bad factory crimps on those connectors. SUPER MINOR repair. 


If you called my company(or any very reputable company) , any one of my guys would simply replace those damaged wires and spade connectors. Get this!! The wires and all  would be included in the $100 service call price. It costs us maybe a whole dollar to fix something like that. we don't charge extra.




Again, very minor repair


Wanna do it yourself ?? go ahead . !!!!   

#1 Go to home depot buy 2 feet of # 10awg wire off the big spool. 

#2 walk down the isle . find a crimp set that has connectors that look like the kind that burnt up( new ones will be yellow or green for that wire size( check auto zone too for just a small box of those conectors. ) 

# 3 go to electrical tool section . buy wire stripper / crimping tool 

# 4 cut 2 peices of wire about the same size as burnt ones. strip off 1/4 inch insulation.  crimp on new connectors 

# 5  pull off old damaged wires . put on new wires . 

# 6 enjoy all 15 kilowatts of heat  :> 




Edited by ACtechGUY

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Might want to also clean up the terminals on the thermal disc before installing new terminals since they maybe also slightly heat damaged.

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may be able to purchase those, complete, jumper wires at a furnace / repair / parts store

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I have NEVER seen premade wires at any hvac supplier. Heck it is impossible to get wiring anything even through major manufactures. The Hvac world is not like the appliance world . 

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*bows* Thank you. You guys are AWESOME. 


It's hard being a genius sometimes, I know. (seriously) By the time my 83 year-old mom asked ME for advice (I'm 2.5 miles away and see her often) she'd already committed to a deal through an insurance policy she pays for (that I didn't know about - $350 a year for "all major systems").  She's getting a new furnace and two ducts added. $600 out of pocket to her. 


The frustrating for me is, well, why should I research something when she's already made a commitment? 


She really is awesome....riding around her 2.5 acres mowing on her riding mower...traveling to England to meet with her boyfriend...still, argh....


THANK YOU for the awesome advice...and the encouragement to clean up the old beast and make a couple of connectors...


so easy....



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YAY! Looks like I get to show off what a good and smart son I am after all. The furnace guy got a bad case of the flu and must delay his install. Mom's freezing so it's off to HD tomorrow for the fix!


I can do ALL of these steps (thanks Hakuna-san)...


I'm just a little unsure of one step, the "walk down the aisle" step. I got burnt myself on that one once, almost burned completely through like these wires...although we did make two fine sons. 


Lucky mom! Tomorrow she gets 6 KWs!


(and I seriously doubt that anything will catch fire - two supposedly smart neighborhood guys were afraid to fix anything for fear of burning the house down...I mean, really, this furnace (1) was built in the first place and (2) has been operating for many many years....and I'll even kill the breaker and temp-check the wires after an hour...again, thanks guys)

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thanks for the follow up.  Let us know how it turns out!  I know you can do it,  good job helping mom out!



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That was easy. That hardest part was finding someone at HD to turn the wire spool rack.


There was a dusty smell at first now that all three elements were in service. The circuit breakers did trip once later on the first night. They did not trip on the next day, nor on the second night. Everyone is warm and cozy.


Since she's committed to getting her new furnace (already contracted for) I'm not going to spend any brain power figuring out why the circuit breaker tripped, although I am kind of curious about that. I didn't even make a new third wire and just left the old one in place for the same reason; laziness!...I mean, all that work stripping and crimping *wipes brow*. Wait, screwing the panel on was work, too. Had to remember where I set the screws. 


Thanks and have a great day!

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Nice to hear mom is warm and cozy!  Good Job



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You all rock. Honto! (<--Japanese for "true")


I've another issue I'd love feedback on. Aluminum wiring. I succeeded at making the replacement wires and connectors and everyone is warm and happy. Still, before I could jump in, Mom had committed to a new furnace though her insurance policy. The installer wanted to add-on aluminum to copper wire replacement so the house doesn't burn down. 


We had a house burn to the ground back in '61 in LA (Bel Aire Fire) so, she's understandably a little apprehensive about house fires. The installer told me that the wires I replaced melted because the wires from the furnace to the distribution box (20 feet away) are aluminum. 


The contractor says that the outside third of the existing aluminum wiring may have been work hardened over the years and now it's possible that the inner 2/3s is carrying the same load and that's the fire hazard. The home was built in 1981. Color me suspicious. 


Mom is not going for the $300 wire replacement, just the furnace. A great deal of the cost IS covered with this policy she bought (a "Systems Protect" policy for $350/yr from cchs dot com - under Home Warranties) and a lot is NOT covered. I understand that having new ductwork done (register installed in the main supply in the garage for garage heat, and a "heat tunnel"? leading to the TV Room in the next room) is not a covered expense...but I don't yet understand all the rest that's not covered. 


It seems that if a furnace wont fit the current plenum, the pleum shold be covered. Same for filter rack and what's that for electrical?  I know I must speak with the authorization department, then maybe the contractor. Still, if anyone has feedback, especially about the possibility that the present wiring is what caused the problem I fixed - the disintegration of 2 of the 3 wires. 


Thanks for everything. Where do I send my counseling fee?







Here's what;s NOT covered

plenum                                   295

filter rack 68 (inc filter)         68

electrical  parts only             189

heat tunnel?  (duct work)     187

no charge for disposal

Total                                       737  (I get 739)

tax                                          52.99  (63.54)

Payable                                   737  (802.54)

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Sounds like a Midas Muffler guarantee...They cover the muffler (about $30) but NOT the pipes, brackets, hangers, fasteners or labor.  :deal:

Edited by olyteddy

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Don't worry about the aluminum wiring.  The worst thing that could happen in the future is the connection point in the new heater where the aluminum  meets the internal copper wiring iwill burn up. since it is contained in a fireproof metal box( the air handler) ... The furnace simply stops working and someone has to cut back and reconnect the wires.  

If the aluminum wiring connects to a screw type terminal block you have absolutly nothing to worry about. if the connection is a large wirenut ....It must have the special aluminum grease ( green stuff) to ensure a long life without worrying about burning up) . there is a problem when you connect aluminum to copper wire. it will degrade over time and heat up. 


The large wires coming into most everyones  homes have always been aluminum. when was the last time you heard of a problem with that? the wire going to the heater is also a very large aluminum wire. And it is multiple smaller wires twisted together. makes the wire very strong and very unlikly for anything to happen.

The problem comes with the smaller wire (12 and 14 gauge) to electical outlets. these single strand wires can degrade and heat up causeing  a fire inside your wall.


End result ... your exsisting wire to the heater is ok.  If she has aluminum in the walls....welllllll...that may be a probem.   

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