Few things are more dangerous than an outdated electrical system.
You may have purchased a new home with installed cloth wiring. Alternatively, you may believe that your older home has cloth wiring installed.
Either way, you most likely have questions. Fortunately, you come to the right place for answers.
It helps to understand the nature of cloth wiring. Moreover, it helps to know if it’s dangerous. Furthermore, you’ll need to find out if you should replace cloth wiring in your home.
To learn why it’s important to replace cloth wiring, keep reading.
The Risks of Cloth Wiring
Cloth wiring can prove dangerous for several reasons. In most instances, you must replace cloth wiring if you find it in your home.
One problem with cloth wiring is that it’s prone to brittleness. Brittleness can amplify the effects of wear and tear.
Over time, cloth wiring dries out. When this happens, the covering can start to flake away.
When cloth covering flakes away, it exposes the underlying electrical wire. More importantly, it exposes the live current in a very unsafe way.
As the flaking of cloth wiring progresses, the likelihood of an electrical arc increases. An electrical arc happens when electricity jumps from one wire to the other. Furthermore, it’s a severe fire hazard.
Brittleness also makes cloth wiring more prone to rodent and insect damage. Once cloth wire becomes brittle, these household pests can chew through it quite easily.
Eventually, a household pest can compromise your cloth wiring. This circumstance increases the risk of exposed wires. It also increases the risk of electrical arcing.
Finally, cloth wiring doesn’t do as good a job of insulating as its modern cousins. As a result, it doesn’t contain heat properly.
Furthermore, today’s homes use much more power than when cloth wiring was in common use. For these reasons, it’s easy for excessive heat to build up in cloth wiring and cause a fire.
Why Would Someone Use Cloth Wiring in My Home?
It’s easy to figure out what manufacturers used for cloth wiring. The material is right in its name. However, there was a reason that manufacturers used wiring in homes built before the 1960s.
Then, cloth wiring was an inexpensive wiring alternative. However, manufacturers did consider the potential conductive characteristics of cloth wiring.
For this reason, they rubberized the cloth for use in electrical applications. This method was the standard way of insulating electrical wires before plastic was much more available and more cost-effective.
Accordingly, your home may have cloth wiring if it was built during the first half of the 20th century. It’s possible that you own a home built during this time. If so, you more than likely have at least some cloth-covered wiring insulation in your home.
The chances of having cloth wiring increase if there are knob and tube wiring components in your home. Before the 1960s, this was the standard for running wires through a home. Then, electricians used knob and tube components to run electrical wiring through structural walls.
Not all knob and tube installations are dangerous. However, they’re prone to malfunctions. Furthermore, knob and tube installations don’t have the safety features of modern home wiring.
How to Figure Out if You Have Cloth Wiring
Again, knob-and-tube wiring is a good indicator that there’s cloth wiring in your home. In some cases, you may have old wiring that looks rubberized. In most instances, however, there’s a layer of insulating cloth underneath.
In some cases, it’s difficult to tell if you have cloth wiring simply by looking at its outside construction. In this case, you might want to try to find the name of the wiring manufacturer printed on the wiring.
Electricians sourced supplies from a few common manufacturers during the first half of the 20th century. As an example, Romex wire was a popular choice among electricians. Other manufacturers included:
There are a few other manufacturers of early electrical wiring. If you don’t work in the field, however, it can prove challenging to identify them. In these instances, it’s a good idea to hire a professional electrician if you suspect that your home has cloth wiring.
A trained electrician can recognize cloth wiring easily. They can also provide you with a detailed overview of your home’s electrical system.
For instance, your home may still have a fuse box. Today, however, most modern electrical installations use circuit breakers.
This kind of outdated equipment can also present considerable fire hazards. Even if your outdated electrical system doesn’t cause a fire, it can still cause problems in other ways.
The Hidden Costs of Antiquated Wiring
Outdated cloth wiring can affect your home insurance costs. In some cases, it can even prevent you from securing insurance.
For example, Florida has a 4-Point inspection requirement. Consumers who purchase older homes must pass a 4-Point inspection before buying insurance.
Part of the inspection is based on the International Building Code. This inspection process is more rigorous compared to Florida inspection standards that were in place before 2002.
Now, Florida inspection standards are much more rigorous. If you have an older electrical system, it’s likely that your home will not pass the inspection.
Furthermore, insurers will consider your home a fire hazard. If your home has cloth wiring or knob and tube wiring, you may find it difficult to buy insurance.
Alternatively, you might have to pay higher insurance premiums. Over time, the cost of paying higher premiums can easily surpass those of rewiring your home with an updated electrical system. An updated system would include modern wiring, outlets and circuit breakers.
Still, in a worst-case scenario, an underwriter can refuse to insure your home. Often, this is the case if your home has a cloth wire installation.
How to Replace Cloth Wiring
If you believe that your home has cloth wiring, you’ll need to take steps to protect your family, yourself, and your home.
Firstly, you want to hire an electrician to inspect your home wiring. You need to confirm that you still have cloth wiring installed in your home. You’ll also need to ensure that the system doesn’t pose an immediate threat to your safety.
A local, trustworthy, and qualified electrician can perform a thorough inspection. They can help you to find any and all problems with your electrical system.
However, there’s something else that you should consider if you have older wiring in your home—you should have your wiring tested for asbestos.
With early wiring, many manufacturers used asbestos paper for electrical wiring insulation. If you find that your wiring uses asbestos paper, you’ll need to contract with an asbestos removal professional to have it safely removed from your home.
You should never try to remove asbestos paper wiring on your own. If you do it incorrectly, you can release toxic fibers into the air.
If your electrician finds asbestos, hire a professional to remove it right away. A professional asbestos removal company knows how to take appropriate safety precautions during the removal of toxic materials.
Finding a Great Electrician
If you’re a weekend DIY warrior, there are a lot of repairs that you can do on your own. However, electrical work is best left to professionals.
Faulty wiring can cause fires. Furthermore, you can face shock or electrocution if you don’t handle electrical wiring properly.
For these reasons, it’s always a good idea to hire a reliable, trusted electrician. A professional electrician can guarantee their work.
However, it’s important to choose an electrician who is qualified for the job. You’ll need to research to ensure that you don’t make a dangerous mistake.
You can begin your research by asking around. Word-of-mouth referrals are a great way to find a good local electrician. For example, you can start your search by asking your family members or coworkers if they know any skilled electrical professionals.
Once you’ve narrowed down your candidates, make sure to ask to see their license. You can also verify your electrician’s license with your state licensing board.
In addition, it’s important to make sure that a potential service provider has insurance. Their insurance will protect you if an accident happens while they’re working on your home.
Finally, make sure that you ask for references. A great electrician will gladly provide a few names of past satisfied clients.
Trust Us to Bring Your Home Up-to-Date
Now you know why it’s important to replace cloth wiring. What you need now is an electrical professional that you can trust to ensure that your home and your family stay safe.
Sunrise Electric takes great pride in providing the best service in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties. We have a long-standing reputation for treating each and every customer’s home as if it was our own.
We handpick certified, licensed electricians. With Sunrise Electric, you can rest assured that your repair project will receive exceptional attention to detail.
Contact Sunrise Electric today at (727) 304-1325 or connect with us online to experience the best service for your electrical maintenance, service, or repair needs.