Seattle is home to some of the most beautiful, historic homes this side of the Cascades. With all the beauty that comes with age, so does technology and infrastructure begin to give way. Electrical wiring is no exception to this. While copper wiring will outlast most of us, the protective sheathing that encases it doesn’t usually last beyond 50-70 years. While the national median age for a home is 40, Seattle, Tacoma, and other historic districts in Washington have a much older age. In Seattle, the median age is 53, with many homes surpassing 100 years. As you have no doubt noticed, this puts the median age for a home in Seattle near the lifespan of electrical wiring. Let’s take a look at the reality of rewiring a home.
Understanding Electrical Wiring
Electrical Wiring is responsible for safely carrying electricity throughout your home. It consists of a network of conductive materials, usually aluminum or copper, insulated in a resisting material. Your home receives electricity from a source; usually, power lines from your local power company. It’s then fed into your home’s circuit breaker which distributes the electricity to different circuits, each of which circulate (hence the name circuit!) electricity to the appliance, and then back to the main panel. Importantly, your home’s electrical wiring system makes use of grounding wires, which exist to divert rogue electricity into the earth, preventing an electric shock which could lead to injury, housefire, or death. Problems arise with your electrical wiring system as the insulation ages and corrodes, or your grounding begins to decay.
Common signs to watch for are old, bad wiring, frequently tripping of breakers, dimming or flickering lights, sparks in outlets or switches, and heat: a burning smell, or a plate that is hot to the touch. Any of these may indicate a problem with the wiring system. Additionally, even if you don’t notice signs of damage, it’s good to have your wiring checked if your home is more than 40 years old and hasn’t been checked recently.
Maintaining Your Electrical Wiring
While the wiring system is run behind the walls where you cannot immediately access it, there are still practical ways to keep your wiring healthy. First, know what you have! Is your wiring aluminum or copper? Aluminum wiring generally needs to be replaced more quickly than copper. Next, how old is your home, especially if you’re in Seattle or North Tacoma? When were the last renovations done that involved your home’s wiring? Have you made any large changes recently, such as a renovation that upgraded or added appliances or electronics without checking the home’s wiring? And of course, take simple steps! Avoid relying on extension cords. Keep trees and debris away from your power lines. Make sure you can always access your circuit breaker; it often gets hidden behind boxes of storage in a family garage! Being mindful of your current state and electrical consumption will go a long way towards keeping your home safely powered for years to come.
Replacing Your Electrical Wiring
Having your home rewired is a big job, and we’d be disingenuous if we didn’t tell you that it doesn’t come cheap! Sticker shock can be real, however, electrical wiring is something you never want to go cheap with. Bad wiring is a hazard to you, your home, and your family. If you notice signs of damage or it’s just time for an inspection, begin by having a professional, licensed electrician do an inspection. If you need one, we can refer you to someone we trust! Your electrician will tell you when it’s time to have the house rewired and may be able to provide you a quote.
We know that your home’s wiring isn’t the most glamorous or fun of conversations, but keeping your home powered safely is important. We’re here to look out for your home and family! If you have questions, give us a call! If you need a referral to a licensed electrician, reach out to us. We’re happy to help!