Old wiring can be a tricky subject because it’s something that will often remain behind the scenes until it’s too late. If you’ve recently moved into an old house or suspect a mediocre wiring job in your new house it might be a good idea have an expert check out the wiring for any major problems. Faulty wiring can be quite dangerous; it is a common cause of house fires and can cause potentially harmful electrical shocks. It’s always best to play it safe and have your wiring inspected before you invite disaster into your home.
Usually it’s not a great idea to manually check the wiring in your home. One small mistake and you could have a potentially deadly 240 volts running through your body. Unless you have a strong background and extensive knowledge of electrical wiring it is generally safer and smarter to hire a professional. However, there are some easy ways to see if you have really old or faulty wiring or not without having to rummage around behind the walls.
Check Your Fuse Box
The first step that you can safely take to get an idea about the status of your house’s electrical wiring is to check out the fuse box. The location of the fuse box will vary from home to home but can be commonly found in the basement or cellar. Once you find the fuse box you can get a general idea of the age of your wiring by just looking at it. If it looks old it probably is. Look for cast-iron switches, a wooden back, and no labels as easy indicators of old wiring. Additionally look for a black rubber-insulated electrical cable entering the box. Modern fuse boxes use a pvc-insulated casing for this wire that is usually grey or white.
Check Your Plugs
You can get an idea of the age and condition of your wiring by inspecting the wall sockets in your house. If you notice that there are not very many plugs in each room it’s likely that the wiring is quite old. Over time our need for electrical appliances has greatly increased so having only 1 or 2 sockets per room means that they were likely installed a long time ago and might need attention. Do the sockets have a third pin for grounding? These plugs became commonplace in most american homes by the late 60s which can give you an indicator of when the wiring might have been done in your home. Additionally, look for sockets that are fitted into skirt-boards rather than the wall itself and sockets that feel hot to the touch when being used as indicators of mediocre wiring.
Check your Lights
In the same way you can get an idea of the age of the wiring from your wall sockets, your light switches can also tell a lot about the age of the wiring. If they look drastically different from what you are used to seeing they are probably very old. Keep an eye out for flickering lights which would indicate loose connections. Lastly, if your lights need to be changed more often that you think they should be it might have to do with poor wiring.
Finding one indicator of old or faulty wiring might not mean that you have to call a professional electrician. However, if you find a lot of different indicators it may be a responsible idea to have it checked out if only for peace of mind.