Is your home’s wiring a fire hazard? Here’s how to stay safe

Up until the 1960s, knob and tube electrical wiring was the standard in housing construction. You might recognize it by the porcelain insulating tubes and the cloth that covers the copper wire.

Today, many insurance companies will not provide coverage to houses with K & T wiring. If a home owner can get insurance, they are charged extremely high premiums.

“Knob and tube wiring is very unpredictable,” explains Shawn Willis who, with Darren Martin owns AJ’s Electrical, which provides residential electrical services throughout most of the Lower Mainland.  “It’s one of the worst systems out there. In its day it was fine, and as long as you don’t touch it, it’s okay, but today people are buying plugs and switches to put onto this older system. As soon as you do that, and you’re not an electrician, it’s a fire hazard.”

AJ’s Electrical will “fish” new wiring through walls and ceilings and bring the house up to code.

“We have tricks we use so we don’t do damage to the architectural look of your house and to the plaster walls,” Martin says.

Another fire hazard is aluminum wiring. From 1974 to 1976, the price of copper wiring shot through the roof so home builders turned to aluminum as a less expensive option.

Cheaper, yes. Safer, no. After problems arose, aluminum wiring was quickly phased out.

Fast forward to today. All the plugs and switches you buy at a hardware store are copper rated. “When they are used in a house with aluminum wiring, the wiring gets hot and starts to arc because aluminum is a softer metal and the connection isn’t good,” Martin says. “This causes the device to burn.”

Understandably, insurance companies do not like houses with aluminum wiring.

But don’t worry — you don’t have to completely re-wire your house to make it safe, Willis says.

“We put proper copper tails onto the aluminum with properly designed marrettes that adhere to Canadian electrical code and CSA requirements. We change all the plugs and switches, including all the light fixtures. We hook it all back together and write a letter to insurance companies to say it’s done properly and to code.”

If you think your house has old wiring and you don’t want to live with such a fire hazard, call AJ’s Electrical Service and Repair at 604-359-1915 or contact them here for a free quote. Their highly qualified electrician contractors in Coquitlam can help upgrade your home.

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