Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live back in the days before electricity? It might be nice for a while, but we are pretty sure you would quickly start to miss the comforts of lights, television, and your washing machine. All of these everyday essentials exist because of our house’s electrical wiring system.
Living in Houston we see houses of all ages. Older, historic districts like the Heights and the 2nd Ward have homes that were built many years ago, while the newer suburban parts like The Woodlands and Pearland have homes that were built within the last 20 years. Depending on when your home was built determines which type of wiring system your home is equipped with. And some systems can be dangerous.
Knob & Tube Wiring Electrical
If your home was built in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or earlier and has not been updated, chances are it has a knob and tube wiring system. The main objective for this system is to keep hot wires from starting a fire. To prevent wires from heating up and getting too close to the wood rafters, electricians would drill a hole through the rafters, install a porcelain casing through the wood, and place the wires inside the casing. As the wires heat up the porcelain heats up also, but not enough to heat the rafters and start a fire.
“My guys still see a lot of knob and tube in the older parts of Houston, especially in the Montrose area. It is extremely dangerous and if we see a home that has it, we recommend they re-wire their whole system,” said John Moore Services Quality Control Specialist Mike Pace. “It’s dangerous in the fact that over time the cloth sheathing that was covering the wires comes right off and leaves all the wires exposed. If you try to maintenance it and you don’t know what you are doing you can burn up everything in the house or get seriously injured.”
Electrical Cloth Wiring Problems
Often referred to as braided cloth wiring, this system was commonly used in the late 50’s and 60’s. All wires and conductors are wrapped up in a braided cloth wrap, but over time, the wrap becomes brittle and will fall apart to the touch, leaving the wires exposed.
“The old cloth wiring system is not designed for today’s technology because it includes no ground wire. This means that the wires only have a hot and a neutral,” said Pace. “Many things like cable, internet, and appliances have to be properly grounded to function without freezing up, and with cloth wiring it’s not possible unless you hire an electrician to run a whole new set of ground wires through your house. It would be more cost effective and beneficial to upgrade the entire system.”
Electrical Aluminum Wiring
According to Pace, aluminum wiring is the most dangerous type of wiring you can have. As the wire heats up, the aluminum coating that is covering each wire will expand, contract, and then loosen up and eventually fall off the wire.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission said that an estimated two million homes were built or renovated using electrical circuits with aluminum wiring. And unless certain safety procedures are undertaken, every outlet, light switch and junction box connected to such circuits is a fire waiting to happen.
“If you think that it is even a possibility that your home might have aluminum wiring, I recommend calling an electrician and having your wiring system upgraded immediately,” said Pace. “If you don’t you are putting everyone who is in your house at risk. It is extremely dangerous.”
Plastic Wiring in your Electrical
After the aluminum wiring fiasco, electricians developed a way to cover wires by using plastics. They use soft, plastic, non-metallic sheaths that are covered in fire preventative chemicals to cover conductors, and then they place those conductors inside another protective plastic sheet to ensure safety.
“This is the newest and safest way to protect the wiring system in a home, and if you have any one of the older systems, you should really consider upgrading to the standard Romex,” said Pace. “It also has three different wires, hot, ground, and neutral so everything in your house will be grounded.”
If your home is older and falls into one of the categories mentioned above, it’s a good idea to call an electrician and have him inspect your current electrical wiring to determine if it needs upgrading. Outdated systems mean burnt up connections, intermittent power, and overloading. Give John Moore Services a call so you can stop these problems altogether!