A 2009 study by the National Fire Prevention Association notes that old faulty wiring is the number one cause of residential fires. The older the wiring, the greater the chance of it being unsafe.
But if you’re not sure about your electrical wiring, a licensed electrician can inspect it for peace of mind at a small cost of up to $300.
Besides safety, there are good reasons for updating your wiring with the help of electrical contractors. Some insurance providers may refuse coverage or charge higher premiums for older wiring systems.
Signs of Outdated, Old Wiring
– Frequently tripped breakers or blown fuses
– Tingling or a shock handle the light switches, appliances, or outlets
– Unstable lights dim and flicker
– Burning smell in a room or coming from an appliance
– Discolored outlets and switch plates that also feel warm
– Two-pronged plugs (ungrounded) throughout the home
– Missing ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in your bathrooms, kitchen, or other wet rooms
– The home is over 40 years old
The Lifespan of Electrical Wiring
Under ideal conditions, your electrical system should last 50-70 years. But wear and tear can shorten that time frame, leading to necessary electric service.
Identifying Old Electrical Wiring
If you suspect your wiring is old, look for these signs:
Outdated Electrical Panel
This is the fuse box in your home and it is designed to allow the electricity to flow through your home from your service provider. Regular tripping and blowing fuses may indicate an old fuse box that is incapable of handling modern power needs. An electrician can replace your panel.
When building homes 50 and 60 years ago, aluminum was used for wiring instead of copper because it was less expensive. But aluminum is not the safest option as it can spark when overheated, potentially causing injuries or fatalities. Electrical contractors should replace aluminum wiring immediately
The 1950s saw cloth insulation for electrical wiring, but this must be replaced as soon as possible by a licensed electrician if you see this in your home.
Knob and Tube Wiring
This is another variety of old wiring that ran through the walls and studs of homes. Today, this style of electrical wiring cannot maintain the 3-phase electrical needs of a home.
Why Copper and Not Aluminum Wire
Aluminum wires, as noted, are outdated. This system was used prior to the 1970s when there was a copper shortage. Copper conducts electricity much better so there is less opportunity for serious accidents to occur. An electrician can get your home up to code with today’s copper wiring.
We recommend electrical contractors replace your old aluminum wiring with copper immediately to remain safe within your own home.
So whether you live in an older home or you just purchased one, speak to a licensed electrician for the best insight on your electrical wiring.