The History of In-Home Wiring, by Kelowna Electrician
How Wiring has Changed in the Okanagan As a homeowner, it is important to remember the date your house was built. This information should guide your hand when deciding what to replace, upgrade, or add to your home. An area of home maintenance where many…
How Wiring has Changed in the Okanagan
As a homeowner, it is important to remember the date your house was built. This information should guide your hand when deciding what to replace, upgrade, or add to your home. An area of home maintenance where many people turn a blind eye is the wiring of their home, however they should be aware of the major changes of in-home wiring when deciding what their current wiring is capable of, as well as its weak points. Older homes may have exposed wiring, due to the wire’s sheath cracking and breaking away – this can lead to serious problems should it come in contact with water, other wiring, or anything that conducts electricity. To better understand how wiring has changed year to year, let’s go through the decades, and take a close look at the technological advances of in-home wiring.
Kelowna Heritage Homes May Need an Upgrade
To start off, let’s go way back to the 1900s, long before conduit wiring took over the market, ensuring complete insulation and grounding for wiring. At this time, knob-and-tube wiring was market standard, with porcelain tubes that protected rubberized fabric-coated wires. Unfortunately for homes built in this period, that rubber coating is likely cracked and broken, leaving the wires it protected exposed and potentially able to start a fire – this is where inspections can ascertain the reliability of your wiring and whether it is time for a replacement.
From the 1920s-40s, Flex entered the market as a flexible metal wall to cover and protect wiring. This offered numerous benefits over past iterations, with the biggest being the ability of the metal to act as a ground, as well as being much more durable for protecting wiring. Still, without a separate grounding wire this provision offered little to no grounding if the flexible metal housings didn’t make contact between pieces.
It wasn’t until the 1940s that metal conduit entered as the premier wiring solution. Metal conduit allowed for many wires to be pulled through one piece of tubing. The conduit itself acts as a ground, and wires can be added or connected through a conduit at any time. For a long time, twenty years roughly, this was all that the electrical market changed.
The Modern-Era of In-Home Electrical Systems
In the 1960s grounding wires finally got their start. Moving away from the traditional two wire, hot and neutral system, we now had three wires with the added grounding wire. As well, the tubing used for the wires was updated from the old rubber coating to a new plastic sheath which is still used today due to its affordability and ease of use. These two inventions have reduced the risk of fire, improve the ability to route wiring through a home, and ensured that a house will be up to spec for its lifespan.
The 1970s saw a short-lived appearance of solid core aluminum wiring which has a significantly higher risk of fire over copper wiring. Aluminum is prone to expansion with heat, and oxidization from the air – issues that copper wiring does not suffer from. If solid core aluminum wiring was used in your home, it may be a safety risk as any over-tightening, nicks, or damage may lead to overheating, arcing, or melting over time. Insurance companies are cautious of this material because of the risks associated with it. It may be worthwhile to replace this wiring, and will be necessary if there is any damage causing failure or risk of fire in your home.
If you are lucky enough to own a home built after the 1970s, there is a good chance that it will feature the plastic tubing, metal conduits, and grounding wires that have defined modern electrical standards. If your home is older than this, you should be aware of the risks that may lead to failure or fire in your home. To protect against these risks, always have a certified electrician properly inspect your home and perform any repairs or changes you wish to make.