Older homes bring a sense of historical charm and whimsy to any passerby, making them a perfect and quaint choice for any potential homeowner. The downside to their charm is the major concern that insurance companies have for the older wiring that is typically present. This issue bring a higher chance of a house fire. With the proper precautions and maintenance implemented, however, your older home will be perfectly safe for any electrical current sent its way. At Champion, we want you to be fully informed on how to keep your family safe in your home. Read on to learn more about some of the safety precautions you can take to preserve the old wiring in your home.
Common Wiring In Old Homes
Also known as “open wiring” or “K&T wiring,” this was a very popular way to electrically wire a home in the early 1900s up until the 1950s. The benefit for these kinds of systems is that they had a shorter distance to conduct within the home and less appliances to support as compared to today. They consist of insulated copper conductors that pass through drill-holes that are supported by protective porcelain insulating tubes.
The main problem associated with this kind of wiring is that the insulation is only “single-insulated,” meaning it deteriorates very quickly with age. The wire frays and degenerates since it can be compromised by an animal or any kind of home-damage. Additionally, they cannot support 3-prong extension cords or appliances because they require too much energy.
Also known as “single-strand aluminum wiring” or “solid aluminum wiring,” this was a replacement to knob-and-tube wiring in the 1960s and 1970s – but was quickly retired due to the many inherent weaknesses it provided. Aluminum decays quicker than copper, creating a dangerous environment for conductivity of electricity. This faster decay time means that any connections in outlets, switches and light fixtures can overheat and create a potential fire.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to experience a fire than a home wired with copper. The higher chance of fire brings concern to most insurance companies, causing them to either not insure your home or bring a bigger rate. Talk to your insurance provider and a professional electrician to see the solutions for any insurance issue regarding aluminum wiring.
Other Common Issues With Older Wiring
Any insulation on wiring within your home decays and deteriorates over time. This deterioration can occur by rodents chewing on them within the walls, nails being put into the wall without consideration of placement or degradation over time. Any kind of insulation that wears away can expose the wiring to the elements, thus leading to a potential fire. This should be rectified as soon as you become aware of it – call a professional for them to help replace or repair any damaged insulation.
Older homes typically have a limit of 60 amps, which is much less than what is required for a typical home today (well over 200 amps). This decrease in amperage can lead to your home’s circuitry to overheat and potentially start a fire. By upgrading your home’s old electrical panel to a new, 200-amp one, you reduce the risk of fire and increase your home’s capacity to conduct electricity.
The Common Solution to Old Wiring
Inspections done by a professional electrician can help any homeowner of an older home understand the kind of wiring that is within the walls and how to safeguard against any potential issue in the future. Once there is an understanding of the type of wiring that is within the home, a professional can rectify any problem to make sure your home is up to code with insurance and its capacity to conduct electricity safely throughout your home.
At Champion AC, we offer free electrical inspections to see where your home ranks within electrical safety and how to solve any issues relating to your wiring. Within this inspection, we check all the breakers in your home, measure the grounding system, check for any hazards in your wiring and inspect for surge protection. We are experts in catching any potential issue early and rectifying it quickly to protect your family and maintain peace of mind.
For more information on maintaining electrically sound homes, contact Champion AC for shockingly safe electrical inspections of the wiring within your home.
Ben is a retired Combat Controller with the United States Air Force. He started Champion AC in 2007. Ben is originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is happily married and an avid fan of the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Saints.