The City of Nanaimo has origins going back to the mid 19th Century and is home to many classic homes dating back a century or more. But unlike with wine, a home doesn’t necessarily improve with age, unless it has been revised and updated over the years. Older homes, even those that were built only a few decades ago, may be hiding sub standard or even potentially dangerous wiring behind their walls.

Many electrical safety experts believe that any house that was built more than 40 years ago, without updating, should have its original electrical wiring replaced for safety reasons. Old doesn’t necessarily mean bad, but materials (including electrical wiring insulation) will deteriorate with time. Even homes constructed in the early to mid 20th Century might have potential problems as safety codes tended to be laxer and less enforced in earlier years.

Aging and frayed wiring is considered to be among the leading causes of residential fires, according to numerous studies conducted across North America. If you don’t know what the condition of your wiring is like (especially as it’s typically hidden behind your walls) it is a good idea to pay a licensed electrician to inspect your electrical system. The fee they charge is well worth the investment, especially if they can head off any potential problem areas.

Safety aside, a more material benefit of replacing old wiring is the fact some insurance providers may refuse to insure houses with older electrical systems in place. Or if they provide coverage it will likely be at a much higher premium.

Here are a few signs that the wiring in your home is in need of replacement:

  • Breakers trip or fuses blow regularly
  • Dimming and flickering lights
  • Burning smell, especially if occurring in a particular room
  • Discolored outlets and switch plates
  • Switch plates that are warm to the touch.
  • Ungrounded outlets throughout the house
  • A fuse box instead of circuit breakers

Aluminum wiring was frequently used in household electrical wiring, especially in the 1960s and early 1970s. Today copper wire is the standard. Aluminum wiring is considered a safety hazard as wiring connections may loosen up over time. Gaps between the wiring and connectors may lead to overheating and in a worst case scenario a fire.

During their inspection a qualified electrician will check out your home’s wiring to determine if it is safe to leave as is, or if it needs to be replaced. If the home does have aluminum wiring it does not always have to be totally removed as sometimes the addition of copper connectors, called pigtails, at circuit breakers and receptacles usually resolve potential problems with the older aluminum wiring. It’s also a good idea to upgrade older switches and wall receptacles to help prevent future problems.