When to replace the electric wiring in your home

Electrical wiring repair

Older homes present a number of risks not present in more modern buildings. One of these risks is faulty electric wiring, which combined with lighting equipment failures was responsible for an average of 22,410 fires per year between 2007 and 2011 according to The National Fire Protection Association. Homes built in the early 20th century may contain “knob and tube” style wiring, while those built in the 1960s and 1970s may contain aluminum wiring instead of copper. Both are safe when in good condition, but present an added risk of electrical fire as they degrade over time.

If you are moving into or own an older home, it is important to understand your risk of electrical fire and possibly take steps to update your wiring.

What to look for
There are a number of warning signs to look for when considering the possibility of faulty wiring, according to HouseLogic.

  • Constantly tripped breakers or fuses can mean that your wiring is degrading. It could also just mean that part of your house is drawing an inordinate amount of energy. If a fuse for one specific part of your house is constantly tripping and there are a number of energy drawing appliances getting used simultaneously, this may be the problem.
  • A tingling feeling when you touch a switch or appliance may mean that your wiring is being grounded by the object you are touching. This should not be happening, as it means a current is flowing through you every time you touch the object.
  • Flickering lights can also be a sign of faulty wiring, or it may be that the light bulb you have installed is simply nearing the end of its life. Carefully replace the light bulb, preferably with a new CFL bulb that is correctly rated for the appliance. If the flickering continues, the wiring is likely to blame.
  • A burning smell is never a good sign in any part of your home. If you smell burning every time you use an appliance, your wiring may be to blame.
  • Browning outlets can also mean that there is a problem with your wiring, particularly if they are warm to the touch. The more significant the browning, the faster you should act, as this presents a real risk of electrical fire.

Even if you aren’t seeing any of these warning signs, you should still consider getting a home inspector to take a look at your house if it is 40 years old or more, HouseLogic suggested. This service should cost between $150 to $300 and will give you important peace of mind.

Other signs of dated wiring are standard outlets in your bathroom – which were replaced by ground fault circuit interrupters for potentially damp environments in modern homes. In addition, ungrounded – or two pronged – outlets throughout your house can be a sign of dated wiring. Even if there is nothing wrong with your home, if you have only ungrounded outlets you should get them updated. Chances are you are using an adaptor for your appliances that require all three prongs, which is not a safe practice.

A total home warranty may be able to protect you from the unexpected cost of replacing failed electrical components. A home warranty is a great way to increase your homeowner confidence and reduce your liability into a low monthly cost.