“Can old wiring start a house fire?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions homeowners have, especially if they discover worn out wiring in their newly bought home, or if they don’t have the finances to fix old wiring.
The United States Fire Administration Department reports that 24,000 residential house fires caused an estimated number of 310 deaths, 850 injuries and $871 million in property loss between 2014 and 2016. Most of these fires were caused by outdated electrical wiring and overloaded appliances.
When you’re buying a new house, it’s important to check for deal breakers—like a worn out roof, asbestos, termites, and outdated wiring.
When Should You Be Worried About Outdated Wiring?
You should pay special attention to the wiring in your home if it’s an old house that was built prior to 1980. Houses built before this time had rubber protective coating which was intended to keep wires isolated. Over time, though the rubber can wear out, exposing the wires and potentially causing electrical fires.
And while each region is different, the general rule of thumb is to be careful with houses that were built before 1980—and change the wiring if needed.
The following are some signs of outdated wiring:
A dying bulb is not, in itself, an indicator of outdated wiring. If a certain bulb has been flickering, it might mean that the problem lies within that bulb.
However, a series of flickering bulbs can potentially be a sign that points to an overloaded circuit or faulty wiring. Another reason for the flickering could be that your electrical panel is underpowered and needs an upgrade.
Tripped Breakers and Blown Fuses
This happens in every home every now and then. You may have plugged in too many appliances at once, making the lights go out.
However, proper, functional breakers work for years without tripping even once. If you need to flip your circuit breaker more than once a year, there’s a chance that you have an outdated circuit breaker.
This is a visible sign of outdated electrical wiring. When your wiring circuit sparks, outlets are usually the first victims. If you notice that your outlets have been discolored or charred, you should get the wiring replaced as soon as possible.
Other signs of outdated wiring include shocks while plugging or unplugging appliances, a lack of sufficient outlets, damaged wires and insulation, among others. Look out for these signs and get help from a professional electrician!