Is Your Old Wiring Safe?
Inspect the electrical panel and exposed wiring to identify safety risks and upgrade options.
Synopsis: Licensed electrician Clifford A. Popejoy explains how you can tell if the wiring in your older home is safe. Detail photographs show the telltale signs that something unsafe lurks behind the covers of your switches, outlets, and electrical panel. A sidebar dispels three common myths about old wiring, and a timeline reveals how wiring has changed since 1979.
Some materials used in old houses are better than their modern counterparts, like three-coat plaster versus drywall. When it comes to electrical wiring, though, older does not mean better. Electrical materials and safety devices have improved considerably over the past century.
Is old wiring safe? It may be. Or it may present a shock, electrocution, or fire hazard due to deterioration from age, poorly executed modifications, or lack of capacity to meet modern power demands. Older wiring that’s in good shape, however, can continue to serve, and selective upgrades can be used…