Did you know that the United States fire departments respond to 24,000 home electrical fires each year? According to the U.S. Fire Administration from 2014 to 2016, these home electrical fires lead to an estimated 310 deaths, 850 injuries, and $871 million in property loss. The leading cause of these fires was electrical wire and cable insulation. While these numbers may be alarming, there are steps you can take to prevent your home from becoming a statistic.
If you live in an older home you may have noticed your lights flickering a time or two or maybe you hear a buzzing or sizzling sound when you turn on your lights. These are signs that your electrical wiring is probably outdated and needs replacing. Today’s technology and appliances are much more powerful for older homes to operate and they put a serious strain on your electrical system.
While having archaic electrical wiring might only be an inconvenience to you, it can be a serious threat to your home and family. Let’s take a closer look at the signs for when your home’s electrical system needs a makeover and understand the benefits of updating your electrical wiring.
The Signs for When it’s Time to Replace Your Home’s Electrical System
Your electrical system will typically show signs for when there is a potential problem. Here are some of the things to look for.
- Age of home- Any home built before 1985, the electrical wiring could be outdated. Have your home inspected by a licensed electrical contractor to help determine if it time to replace your electrical system.
- Tripping the breaker- If you often trip the breaker or blow fuses, it’s a sign that your home’s demand is more than your electrical system can provide.
- Regular usage of extension cords- Heavily relying on extension cords to plug in your electrical belongings, might mean you lack outlets in your home. If a room only has one or two outlets, then it’s time for an update.
- Lights frequently dim or flicker- When you plug in an appliance and turn it on if your lights flicker or dim this shows that old electrical wiring isn’t up to the task to properly power the items in your home.
- Light bulbs that frequently burn out- This is signaling that the fixture can’t handle the bulb wattage.
- Outlets are stained- Discoloring of your electrical outlets means your home is experiencing surges in power. This is a major fire risk and needs to be addressed immediately.
If you notice any of these signs in your home, then it’s time to give your electrical wiring an update with the help of a professional electrical contractor. Most professionals suggest that you get your house inspected every three to five years.
Understanding the Benefits of Installing Copper Wiring
If your home was built when bell bottoms and floppy collars were trendy, chances are that your home has aluminum wiring. Between 1965 and 1973, aluminum wiring was a more affordable option than copper. However, it was good-for-nothing in terms of safety. Copper wiring has been used since the 19th century and is still mostly used for electrical wiring. Here are some reasons why you should have copper wiring in your home’s electrical system:
- Non-corrosive- Copper wiring is non-corrosive, which means it won’t rust in tough environments. Most copper wiring lasts for 40 years or more.
- Flexible and malleable- Copper can be easily bent into shape and because it’s flexible it can be hammered into thin wiring for electrical purposes.
- The best conductor- Copper outshines any other non-precious metal in conducting electricity, which is a fundamental component for electrical wiring.
With these superior traits, you now understand why copper has been a prominent choice for electrical wiring. It’s important to know what type of wiring you have because it will help you know when it’s time to replace it.
Copper vs. Aluminum
The advantages of copper are clear, but is aluminum really that dangerous? As stated before, aluminum was once the metal of choice for electrical wiring but over time, it has led to numerous problems. For example, aluminum can react to other materials used in your home’s electrical system in the outlets and light fixtures. This reaction can lead the aluminum to deteriorate, oxidize, overheat and potentially catch on fire.
Another potential risk of using aluminum is that it has high electrical resistance so it makes it challenging for current to flow smoothly through it. These hazardous risks are why copper is the pick of choice for electrical wiring. Living with aluminum wiring is like a ticking time bomb for a fire to happen in your home. That is why it is so important to know what type of electrical wiring your home has.
If you notice any signs that your house might have aluminum wiring, have a professional electrical contractor come inspect your home. This could help you identify an issue and avoid a fire altogether.
Are electrical fires covered by home insurance?
The standard homeowners insurance policy will provide substantial coverage for electrical fires, but the age and type of wiring your home has most likely will influence your home insurance rates. Some insurance providers will charge higher rates or won’t insure older homes at all because most of them have outdated electrical wiring systems and have more of a chance of starting a fire, making your home riskier to insure.
At TGS Insurance, we want you to feel confident in your coverage regardless of how old your home is. We will work with our suite of 35+ A-rated (or better) carriers to find you a home insurance policy that’s perfectly balanced in coverage and value.
Understanding the signs for when it’s time to replace your electrical wiring system and knowing if you have copper or aluminum wiring is key in avoiding a house fire. It’s also important to regularly have your electrical system inspected to ensure there are no potential fire risks in your home. Knowing this will help keep you and members of your household safe and ultimately reduce the chance of a fire starting.
Source: Kolb Electric