Replace Oxidized Speaker Cables?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tommy Levario, Jan 30, 2002.

  1. Tommy Levario

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    Five years ago, I wired the house with generic HD 16 ga transparent speaker wire. I haven't had any use for it until now. I will finally install sound speakers for our HT system. When I pulled the wires out of the wall, I noticed they had oxidized because of the greenish color. What I also noticed was that this greenish color also appeared along the entire length of the speaker wire.

    I'm sort of puzzled because I thought oxidation would occur only at the ends of the wire where they were exposed to the air and not along the entire length where it is insulated.

    Since the entire run of wires are already oxidizing, do I need to replace all of my speaker wires with Oxygen Free type of wires? My runs are relatively long, 30+. In addition, I had also run some wires to the garage, back yard patio, and bedrooms so, replacing them all may become an expensive nightmare. I checked them all and they all had the same problem.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Well, even Oxygen Free Copper will oxidize, but it usually turns a dull-brown color. I thought the green stuff indicated the formation of Copper-Oxide which is corrosion (and I though you needed moisture for this to form). Usually the copper under the insulation is fairly well protected so it's very strange that the entire length is corroded.

    It sounds like you got some very poor-quality wire.

    Yes, you should replace it. The copper-oxide has 'eaten' the copper away and made what little metal remains very brittle.

    It's not as bad as you think. Your main speakers in your HT system are usually up front with the equipment. So you can just run fresh 12 ga wire to these.

    You can TRY to use the rear wires by scraping off the corrosion with a knife/steel wool and see if there is any real copper left. If not, can you tie new wire to one end and use the bad stuff to "pull" fresh wire through the walls?

    If you do run fresh wire to the rear, I suggest:

    - Run 3 sets of speaker wires (the third is for the rear-center channel)

    - Run some CATV coax, RG6 to the rears for a rear-mounted subwoofer, or to drive bass-shakers.

    Good Luck.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    or possibly copper chloride as the pvc insulation may have degraded...should be able to snake more wire through using the existing wire as a pull
     
  4. Tommy Levario

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    Thanks for your insight Bob and Chu! I guess I'll be running new speaker wire and using the existing as a pull as you've suggested.

    I think you're right. Very poor quality wire from HD in combination with the humidity in the attic, accelerated the corrosion process. How can I minimize this with my next purchase of speaker wire that'll run through the attic?

    I read on a different thread that CL-2 rated speaker wire was recommended for inwall installations. Do you think this is what I need to do or would regular 12 ga oxygen free wire work just the same? The prices for the sound king 12 ga wire at partsexpress.com looks mighty tempting but I'm not sure if that would work.

    Thanks for your help
     
  5. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    I think the CL-2 means the outer jacket is fire-resistant (meaning fire wont travel along it like a fuse) I dont think it has anything to do with how moisture-proof it is.

    As much as I hate to recommend Monster, their 12 ga has some good insulation, and a inner saran-wrap plastic around each wire. It's a pain because wire strippers often miss the extra saran-wrap and you have to scrape it off, but I would think it would give you extra moisture protection.
     

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