Outdated electrical wiring can have a perilously insidious effect in your home or office. Small faults may start showing up that are seemingly unrelated, but which could all be related symptoms of outdated electric wiring, rather than isolated incidents.
Especially if you own or rent an older home or business premises, there’s a fairly good chance that your electrical wiring may be out of date and thus not comply with the latest safety standards. This can present hidden dangers that you’ll only discover once it’s too late.
Here’s a quick primer on how to identify outdated electrical wiring, and how to save on old house electrical wiring fix costs with us.
The risks of outdated electrical wiring
The most dangerous risk that outdated electrical wiring poses is that of fire. Any degradation in the wiring’s system’s insulation properties can cause smouldering that you’ll typically only realise once an actual fire with smoke has broken out. These fires are initially invisible and odourless. By this time not only will you be in physical peril, but your entire electrical system can be knocked out and will have to be replaced, even if the fire is caught before it becomes completely catastrophic to the structure of your home.
Perhaps a more common risk comes in the form of electric shocks. Faulty wiring can cause this when you do something as simple as plug in an appliance, as the outlets themselves have become damaged. These shocks can vary from minor frights to causing actual burns.
When can you suspect outdated electrical wiring?
Besides the obvious fact of living in an older building, one of the most ignored initial signs of outdated electrical wiring are lights that flicker or dim for a short while before returning to full brightness. Because it’s all too easy to dismiss this as a fluctuation in your local power supply, many people don’t associate it with the possibility that they may be living in a home with hazardously outdated electrical wiring.
However, if you regularly experience flickering or dimming of your lights, it’s a good idea to call in a qualified electrician to assess the situation and make any necessary fixes. This may include rewiring your house to bring it completely up to date and improve your overall safety.
There are also several other warning signs that you should take seriously if they occur in your home or office.
Buzzing sounds from your lights
Keep your ears open for any persistent buzzing coming from your lights. This can occur when you switch them on or when you start using multiple appliances, like boiling a kettle while cooking on your electric stove. If the latter happens, you definitely need to have your wiring looked at.
Frequent tripping of your circuit breakers
Circuit breakers are designed to trip if the wiring capacity is overloaded or if there are faults that prevent proper electricity transmission. They’re a safety measure, and we all experience the odd trip that requires flipping a switch back on in your switchboard. However, if your circuit breakers are tripping frequently, this can be a sign of outdated electrical wiring.
It’s important to understand that when the electrical current flow is too high, circuit breakers only protect the wiring in the circuit. They don’t protect the circuit itself and, importantly, they don’t protect your electrical outlets and the appliance you plug into them.
When the current get too high due to an electrical fault, the circuit will overheat and compromise its insulation. In the worst case scenario, this can damage plugged-in appliances, and can even set fire to flammable materials near the source of the wiring fault.
Scorch marks on electrical sockets or extension cords
Electrical faults can manifest in the individual sockets of your plugs and extension cords. You’ll notice brown, burnt discolouring around these input points, and may also have difficulty plugging something in, as if there is a blockage.
This blockage is invariably caused by small pieces inside the sockets melting and blocking the sockets with molten plastic. You may also often find it difficult to unplug an appliance, for the same reason – the heat has fused the plug to the socket. This can also damage the pins on your appliances plugs.
An arc fault occurs when there is a high level of electrical discharge between two conductors. For example, between a socket and a device plug. This creates an enormous amount of heat in the wiring, which once again carries a risk of fire. Arc faults are typically caused by loose wire connections. Outdated electrical wiring is especially vulnerable to these.
Your devices heat up when plugged in
Outdated electrical wiring can also manifest in your appliances overheating when you plug them in. You’ll notice this most on smaller electrical devices, such as when you charge a smartphone. If your phone’s battery is in good condition but the device nonetheless noticeably heats up, the issue most likely lies in faulty or degraded wiring.
Your home was built in the 1970s and uses old aluminium wiring
Many older homes built in the ’60s and ’70s were outfitted with aluminium wiring. While also an excellent electricity conductor, aluminium is a more dangerous carrier than the copper we use for all modern electrical wiring. Chillingly, aluminium wiring is around 50x more likely to cause a fire in your home.
Rodent droppings near electrical wiring
Rodent droppings in your house aren’t pleasant at the best of time, but don’t overlook them if you live in an older house. This might not immediately seem like a warning sign, but rats and mice are prone to chewing on electrical wires. This can damage their insulated covering and cause them to fray. The compromised insulation and exposed copper wiring can create a serious fire hazard.
Using a qualified Melbourne electrician to fix outdated electrical wiring
Rewiring your house can be a complex task – one that you should only entrust to a qualified professional electrician. STL Electrical has many years of experience in converting outdated electrical wiring into safe and up-to-date home or office circuits.
Contact us the moment you notice any of these warning signs – you’ll find our old house electrical wiring fix costs to be very reasonable.