If your house was built before 1950, it may need to be rewired. Before 1950, the insulation that covered electrical wires was made of cloth. As the cloth ages, it deteriorates and becomes brittle. Eventually, cloth may fall off and leave bare uninsulated wires. Uninsulated wires can spark, start fires, or, if touched, cause electrical shocks. Generally, the older the cloth insulation, the more likely the home needs to be rewired.
When does a home need rewiring?
Here are some reasons that a home may need rewiring:
- Wired before 1950. Homes wired before 1950 are likely to have deteriorated cloth insulation. In addition any home built before 1950 may have an ungrounded electrical system or one that is no longer safe due to other reasons. The earlier your pre-1950 wiring was installed, the more likely it should be updated.
- Cloth-insulated wiring. Most homes built before 1950 have cloth-insulated wiring. The cloth insulation deteriorates with age and may need upgrading. In addition, such systems are ungrounded.
- Knob and Tube wiring. Many homes built before 1935 have Knob and Tube (also called "Knob and Spool")wiring. Such systems have cloth-insulated wiring and are ungrounded.
- Aluminum wiring. Over 2,000,000 homes in the U.S. built or renovated between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s have aluminum rather than copper wiring. Aluminum wiring has proved to be a fire hazard.
- Ungrounded wiring or ungrounded outlets. An ungrounded wiring system lacks a metal conductor that routes electricity safely out of the home and into the ground should an electrical problem occur. Grounding provides greater fire safety and protection against electrical shocks.
- Insufficient power or too few outlets or switches. Your home may need additional electrical circuits (wiring). Not having enough available power or not having enough outlets are both indicators of an older electrical system that may need to be upgraded for both convenience and safety reasons.
- Use of extension cords. If you find that you're using extension cords for more than a temporary fix, your home may need additional electrical circuits.
Is deteriorating wiring really a safety problem?
Many home fires are due to faulty wiring. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a department of FEMA:
"During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances."
If you are wondering if your electrical system is safe or if you would like more power, outlets, or switches, give us a call for a free Home Safety Inspection.