If you have an old home that is over 3-4 decades old, the chances are that your electrical wiring has, over time, deteriorated into a hodge-podge of parts and pieces which can be dangerous. Older homes are usually fitted with knob-and-tube wiring that isn't inherently dangerous, but that may be contributing to constant electrical problems. Having your old wiring replaced can help solve most common electrical problems and ensure essential upgrades -- such as ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets -- are fitted so as to bring your home electrical system up to code. This article will look at 2 problems associated with outdated wiring, and why it may be time to have it replaced.
Knob-and-tube wiring is often capable of keeping most old homes up and running for many decades, but it will eventually get brittle and start to fall apart. Faulty wiring that has become scraped or lost its insulation to pest damage can easily cause a short or an electrical arc that can result in a house fire.
An inspection of your old wiring by a certified electrician can reveal brittle wiring that is at risk of short circuiting. Additionally, if your house is upwards of a half-century old, the chances are that the wiring is outdated and in need of replacing.
Some common signs that your wiring has grown old and brittle include fuses or circuit breakers that fail regularly, or dimming or flickering lights. Wiring with missing or damaged insulation, as well as discolored outlets and switch plates also often indicates that your wiring may need replacing.
Outdated aluminum wiring
Many old homes are fitted with aluminum wiring instead or standard copper wires. The problem with aluminum wiring is that it is prone to many problems that could affect your electrical system and even result in electrical fires.
To begin with, aluminum is more likely to develop tiny gaps in the wiring, increasing resistance in the electrical system and thus causing frequent overheating. The development of such gaps is often caused by the high thermal expansion of aluminum that causes the wire to push contact screws and connectors outward as the wire heats up, and then leaving tiny gaps when it cools down.
Another major issue with aluminum wiring is that it tends to react with air when it loses its insulation, forming an oxide that increases electrical resistance, and thus causes the wiring to heat up. This in turn may produce scorch marks on terminals in switches and outlets and even cause sparking on outlets.
It is important that old homes have their wiring replaced, so that outdated wiring can be replaced with safer copper wiring, and modern safety features can be added. Contact local electrical services professionals, such as those from All American Air & Electric, Inc., for further assistance.