Monday, February 14, 2011

Who did your wiring?

When should you start changing all the Electrical wiring in your
Old home
After 25, 50, 75 years?
NFPA is trying to find out
But the answer could be sooner than you think?

By Nick Markowitz Jr.

The NFPA Safety Foundation has begun an ambitious plan to try and figure out when a person should consider changing out all of the old electrical wiring in a home.
Hopefully thru research the codes will ultimately reflect what is found.
But NFPA is looking for a needle in a haystack as far as I see it.
I have already come across 5 year old homes with serious problems as well as 100 year old homes were the wiring is absolutely fine.
What NFPA is going to find out is it all comes down to who wired the home a competent electrician or a poor workmanship electrician or a home owner or handy man. It will also depend on the level of or grade of the material used. $5.00 receptacles versus .50 devices.
Romex vs. BX etc.
The answer is it all depends on each and every individual house and how the people living in it keep their life style.
Does an active family occupy the house or an elderly retired couple or a young couple just starting out? Are they the keep up with the Jones type which has to have every known electrical gadget a hot tub and swimming pool and air conditioner and doing laundry at the same time. Are they a young working couple only home in the evenings relaxing watching TV? And in each case was the house wired with good quality items or cheap.
So by saying every home needs rewired every 25 years on average penalizes those who take care of their homes and do not stress there wiring systems.
One big area that also needs looked at is the main breaker box and associated wiring that comes to it from the outside. This wiring typically wears out long before the inside wiring ever will and is the often most neglected wire on the house because home owners for some reason seem to think the service cable on the home is maintained by the utility company so no mater how bad it starts to look they figure it is up to the local utility to replace it. Wrong. The home I live in and most around it are aprox. 45 years old I replaced the breaker box when I moved in 20+ years ago as water had gotten into it I also put in a ground rod and whole house surge suppresser and still among the small hand full who did and now I will need to replace the service wire and meter base because it is starting to show signs of failure as is every one else’s.
How ever my inside wiring is still in excellent shape I kept it this way by isolating the furnace, kitchen and washer & dryer on to there own dedicated circuits to prevent over stressing the existing wiring. However I know there are homes in my area this was not done and in fact there inside wiring needs replaced. Then you get into a whole different can of worms when you get into homes built 1940 and before and Knob and Tube or open wiring and fuse boxes. Insurance companys refuse to insure these homes and demand the Knob and tube be ripped out even some community’s in Pa. Require it be ripped out and replaced if found instead of safely repaired. How ever they are dong all of us a bad deal in requiring this.
Knob and tube wiring is in fact safer than modern wiring when it has been maintained properly. Fuses are safer than breakers a fuse will never jam it is an always going to work item when a short or overload occurs as it trips with heat and melts In fact the National Electrical code requires them for certain motor high amperage loads were breakers have many moving parts which can and do fail. In fact some breakers have a notorious failure and even catching fire history and are still in service and nothing has been done to encourage there removal. Some power companies in my area after breakers came out still required fused main switches they where so leery of breakers
If after all this research comes out and better code making is the result ho ray for al involved. If it does nothing more than muddle things up then shame on those involved in the muddying up of things.
But what has been shown so far every house studied had bad wiring do to home owner or other inexperienced individual fooling with it.
So what is the lesson here? Call a qualified professional not your brother in law.

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