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  #1  
Old 01-18-2018, 04:24 PM
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Seems there are more house fires during winter months.....

There have been quite a few house fires on the news laterly; they say many started from "old wiring" in the attics. I've read that wiring over 40 years old can be a hazard.......is there any way to tell or know if your house wiring needs replaced?

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  #2  
Old 01-18-2018, 04:38 PM
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Overloading circuits (heaters) and dry weather are recipe for fires. Additionally, old sheathing (due in part to dry weather) can split apart and cause arcing. There are a number of different types of wiring used so there isn't a total blanket statement of when it should be replaced. However, if you have old knob and tube wiring and/or aluminum core wiring (as opposed to copper), you may want to consider rewiring.
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  #3  
Old 01-18-2018, 05:12 PM
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As a retired FF/Medic and no Red Cross disaster responder, I agree that it is true there are more fires in cold periods. The reasons stated by tbomach above are true. People can get really creative when desperate to stay warm. I have seen open ovens, charcoal grills in the living room and clothes dryers used for heat.

Seldom see the old rubber-insulated wiring with crumbled insulation or aluminum wiring anymore. Those places have either been modernized or burned down by now. Next to the kitchen the next most common fire source seems to be dryers choked with lint.

Forty year-old wiring should not be a problem if done to common local code. You are talking about homes built in the late 70s/early 80s.
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Old 01-18-2018, 05:59 PM
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My house is 60 years old (completed in 1959) and the wiring in this place is fine - overdone if anything (#12 copper wire run literally everywhere!). What fell far short was the switches and outlets. They were mostly original and made by a company called Slater. Let me just say that they are CRAP. I had quite a few plugs so loose that things wouldn't stay plugged in and switches that wouldn't stay on or off unless you jiggled them just right.

A couple years ago I repainted the house and decided to replace the outlets and switches while I was at it. It was a horror show - melted and burnt wiring in over 50% of the outlet boxes due to the crappy connections internal to the plugs, one had been on fire at some point! Had I known what was lurking behind the faceplates, I wouldn't have slept in this house - SERIOUSLY! Every single switch, outlet, box, and light fixture in this place got replaced - even the doorbell wiring. The main wiring and electric panel were all fine!
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  #5  
Old 01-19-2018, 10:08 AM
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I always wondered about 30+ year old circuit breakers. regardless of manufacturer - I always wondered if a 30-year old, plastic, mechanical device, would work with the same consistency as when it was made.
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  #6  
Old 01-19-2018, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel View Post
I always wondered about 30+ year old circuit breakers. regardless of manufacturer - I always wondered if a 30-year old, plastic, mechanical device, would work with the same consistency as when it was made.
My house is 59yrs. Originally had internal fuse box. It was switched to a external breaker box in the late 70's by the previous owner.
One of the 220 breakers caught fire in 2011. Didn't spread to other breakers, but scared me enough to install a new square D load center with all new breakers.
Need to inspect these plastic items periodically. They are not for life.
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by rocky raccoon View Post
As a retired FF/Medic and no Red Cross disaster responder, I agree that it is true there are more fires in cold periods. The reasons stated by tbomach above are true. People can get really creative when desperate to stay warm. I have seen open ovens, charcoal grills in the living room and clothes dryers used for heat.

Seldom see the old rubber-insulated wiring with crumbled insulation or aluminum wiring anymore. Those places have either been modernized or burned down by now. Next to the kitchen the next most common fire source seems to be dryers choked with lint.

Forty year-old wiring should not be a problem if done to common local code. You are talking about homes built in the late 70s/early 80s.
Knob and tube along with aluminum wiring are still somewhat common around here (though they're obviously getting replaced as time goes on) since many houses were built before 1950.

My place was built in the early 40s but was updated to non-grounded 12ga romex probably in the 60s or 70s. It's due for a full rewire since nothing is grounded at the outlet...a job I'm not looking forward to tackling.
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  #8  
Old 01-19-2018, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocky raccoon View Post
As a retired FF/Medic and no Red Cross disaster responder, I agree that it is true there are more fires in cold periods. The reasons stated by tbomach above are true. People can get really creative when desperate to stay warm. I have seen open ovens, charcoal grills in the living room and clothes dryers used for heat.

Seldom see the old rubber-insulated wiring with crumbled insulation or aluminum wiring anymore. Those places have either been modernized or burned down by now. Next to the kitchen the next most common fire source seems to be dryers choked with lint.

Forty year-old wiring should not be a problem if done to common local code. You are talking about homes built in the late 70s/early 80s.
K&T and rubber wiring are VERY common in Maryland, FYI
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  #9  
Old 01-19-2018, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Simpler=Better View Post
K&T and rubber wiring are VERY common in Maryland, FYI
Glad I didn't work in Maryland.
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  #10  
Old 01-20-2018, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuskyMan View Post
There have been quite a few house fires on the news laterly; they say many started from "old wiring" in the attics. I've read that wiring over 40 years old can be a hazard.......is there any way to tell or know if your house wiring needs replaced?
I'll let you know if/when my house burns down.



.
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  #11  
Old 01-20-2018, 01:58 AM
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There have been lots of problems with cheap unattended electric and propane gas heaters. Sometimes the wiring is overloaded; other times there is flammable material left near the heater. People would leave these things burning while they went out to shop or even go to work.
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  #12  
Old 01-20-2018, 07:56 AM
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Agree ,Old space heaters or new ones that have lost their ability to shut off when tipped over ,Ive got one that needs to be fixed or thrown away and wont use it .My guess is alot of unfixed ones get sold to unexpecting buyers who never check them out.Its like lighting a continious match in an open room of flammable material.Mostly smaller homes without central air and heat are the fire prone buildings.People leave them on in the coldest days of the winter to try to keep up with the rooms temp and onced heated dont want to shut them off ,this combined with being at floor level ,dont get checked on , covers and clothes get put around,all the hazards are their to continue the threat of fire.I think one safety tool would be a cage of wire as a basket surround should be given with the purchase of these heaters ,save lives and property.
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  #13  
Old 01-20-2018, 01:48 PM
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It seems it is either space heaters or wiring in the attic that starts the fires. It's easy to throw the space heaters out, the wiring is not so easy to deal with.
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:47 AM
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This is why smoke detectors are so important......
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  #15  
Old 02-25-2018, 07:24 AM
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NYC Code

Nice thing about NYC is they changed to code 80 years ago requiring 12ga BX as standard and have vigorously enforced it. Haven't seen K&T in years (while doing rewire of a structure built in 1900) and all reno's require a Licensed Electrician sign off before COA is issued.


I agree that 1950's outlets/switches are junk...pre war stuff is ok but when I sold a 1950's built apartment last month I did a full reno of all boxes/switches/outlets and replaced the fuse box (original 1954) with a Square D breaker box...had a friend who is Local 3 Master check it all after I was done.

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