At Christopher A Deao Electrical Contractor we’re experienced in wiring and rewiring of older homes.
If yours is an older home on the North Shore or Essex County, there’s a possibility that the wiring is knob and tube or is otherwise outdated. If you’re not sure we’d be happy to perform an inspection.
Faulty wiring is dangerous. It’s the leading cause of residential fires, according to a 2009 study by The National Fire Prevention Association.
Here are some warning signs that indicate your home is in need of a wiring upgrade.
- Do you have breakers that trip or fuses that blow repeatedly
- Do you sometimes get a tingling sensation when you touch an appliance
- Do you notice any flickering or dimming lights
- Is there a persistent burning smell from a room or appliance
- Are there any warm, discolored, or sparking outlets
- Do you have two-prong ungrounded outlets throughout the house
- Is there an absence of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in kitchens, baths, garages, outdoors, and other areas exposed to moisture.
If you answered yes to any of these questions you should definitely consider a wiring upgrade. Think of it as an investment in your home and safety. And while your insurance carrier might want to charge you higher premiums due to older wiring they also may be willing to give you a discount for upgrading.
Knob and Tube Wiring
It’s been well over 50 years since knob and tube wiring was used in new home construction. So even though in it’s heyday knob and tube had some built-in safety features, it’s now 60 to 90 years later. In older homes that still have knob and tube those same safety features have become a hazard.
A primary safety feature of the system was that porcelain knobs suspended the wires in open air to dissipate heat. But with high energy prices here in New England homeowners have been insulating like crazy. Once you start filling cavities with insulation there’s no more open air. Rather than a safety feature you now have a fire hazard. It wasn’t until 1987 that the National Electrical Code prohibited the placement of insulation in contact with this type of wiring.
The wire itself was insulated too. But it turned out that the rubber insulation was a tasty treat for critters that found their way into homes. And in applications that generated some heat, such as un-vented attics or above a ceiling fixture, the insulation had a tendency to deteriorate.
In addition to those, and other safety concerns knob and tube is just not adequate for today’s electrical loads. If you’re buying or selling a home with knob and tube. Or if you’re outfitting your home with the latest electronics and appliances you should seriously consider wiring replacement. Both you and your insurance company will feel better.
BX or Romex?
Replacing knob and tube wiring brings up the question of which is the better alternative. Romex or BX. Both methods are obviously better than knob and tube with some not so subtle differences between them. Each contains 1 or more hot conductors along with a neutral conductor and a ground wire.
Romex is sheathed in PVC, it’s flexible, resistant to heat and fire, it’s easy to install and relatively inexpensive. Romex has been the most common type of wire used in residential applications over the last 40 years.
BX is also referred to as Armor Clad or Flexible Metal Conduit because it’s sheathed in a flexible metal spiral made either from aluminum or galvanized steel. The metal shield means that BX has advantages over Romex.
- Resistant to punctures from nails or screws
- More resistant to being chewed through by rodents or pests
- BX shields electric fields
BX is slightly more difficult to install than Romex. It’s also more expensive initially. But it would only take one picture hanging mishap or critter invasion to change the dynamic.
Wiring questions? Get in Touch.