Around one-third of the homes in the U.S. are over 50 years old, and older homes are statistically at higher risk of electrical fires. The main reason older homes can be more dangerous is many were built with electrical systems which are no longer safe. Deterioration due to aging, improper installation and modification, a lack of modern safety devices, combined with today's electrical intensive households all combine to increase the risk of electrical fires.
By understanding what outdated wiring looks like, you can learn of your home is at greater risk. Depending on the age of the home, you will find one of three kinds of wiring.
Grounded Electrical SystemsHomes built in the 1940s through the present will have grounded electrical systems. Grounding is a critical safety feature that is designed to reduce the chance of shock or electrocution in the event of a short circuit. Grounding wires are connected directly to the earth through a metal grounding rod or a cold water pipe. Should a short circuit or an overload occur, any extra electricity will find its way along the grounding wire to the earth.
Aluminum WiringAs the price of copper soared, aluminum wiring became more common in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the receptacles and switched of the time we not designed to work with aluminum wire, resulting in bad fitting connections and a greater risk of fire. If your home has aluminum wiring that was installed in the 1960s or 70s have M/R Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electrical perform a safety inspection to ensure it is safe and up to code.
Knob & Tube WiringThe earliest type of wiring found in homes built in the 1800s through the 1930s, knob and tube wiring is an open air system that uses ceramic knobs to keep wires away from combustible framing. These suspended wires were directed through ceramic tubes to prevent contact with the wood framing and starting a fire. Knob and tube wiring is a fire hazard because it's not grounded and is more exposed to damage from old and faulty modification.
Have questions about your home's wiring? Call M/R Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electrical, we're here to help.