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Electrical Wiring in Out-Dated & Heritage Homes: This IS Your Grandma’s Wiring!

Electrical Services Electrical Renovations

Owning an older home can be a bit like owning a vintage British Sports Car; they’re charming, unique, and often turn heads. But, they can also be unreliable and require a lot of special maintenance. Parts are increasingly hard to find, and it’s even harder to find someone willing to work on them. The constant upkeep can make you want to tear your hair out at times for sure! If you’re living in an older home and wondering what the current state of your electrical system really is, then read on.

So How Old is Old Anyway?

If your home is more than 40 or 50 years old, then it’s definitely approaching the Golden Years of its life. If your dining room light fixture looks like it may be coming back in fashion next season or something that belongs in the Smithsonian, you’re probably overdue for a safety inspection of your homes electrical system. Our electricians at Pilot Electric Services will be happy to give you an inspection in Kelowna and throughout the Okanagan. 

Wiring methods, electrical codes, and construction practices have changed a lot in the last 50 years. Many electrical practices and materials thought to be safe 50 years ago are now considered hazardous. Lead paint anyone?

The availability of skilled electricians and electrical contractors in the past is also a factor. 50 years ago there was only a small handful, maybe only one electrician in your area! It didn’t matter if they were any good or not, you didn’t have much choice! This is especially true in rural areas, such as small towns and communities throughout the Okanagan. Today, you can easily search for dozens of electricians in your area, read reviews, and make an informed decision.

If you’re home was built during the building boom, there’s a chance it was one of the many electrical jobs that simply fell through the cracks and went uninspected. Even in urban areas, electrical inspection, and enforcement was not nearly as rigorous as it is today. Today, regulations, enforcement, and inspections are carefully regimented to ensure electrical jobs are completed safely and properly.

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Safety Considerations

Ahhh for the nostalgia of the 1950’s. Drive-in movies and fast food joints, milkshakes, and classic cars. It was the era of no seatbelts, no crash testing, and the height of vehicle fatalities. People say, “They don’t build them like they used to.” And they’re right; they build them much, much better! The same is true for the electrical systems of modern homes.

Older homes are the prototypes of modern electrical systems. Since then, we’ve learned from our mistakes and drastically improved our electrical standards. If your home hasn’t been recently inspected and updated, then the ghosts of our past still haunt us with outdated, unsafe materials, and instalment methods

Between the 1940s and 1960s, fuse-boxes were commonplace. However, they posed major safety issues because they were easy to tamper with or bypass. Therefore, making them unsafe and outdated electrical practices. Since then, circuit breakers have become the new standard that we are continuously improving. 

It wasn’t until the 1960s that Grounding Protection became a common method of shock prevention. However, Ground Fault Protection near bathtubs and other water sources to reduce the risks associated with electricity didn’t exist.

Asbestos and PCBs, which are both dangerous properties traditionally used in everything from cable insulation to fluorescent lights. Today, they’re both banned in homes and have replaced by safer products.

Now, fast forward to post-2010. Today, we better understand the hazards of electricity and water, and protect vulnerable areas with Ground Fault Shock Interrupters. We know that stray electricity needs a return path to safety ensure all plugs have a ground wire.

We have better statistics regarding the risk of house fires and Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Plus, we have higher standards and quality for smoke detection.

We’ve learned from past mistakes, and know the inherent hazards of Aluminum Wiring, Knob-&-Tube Wiring and other unsafe and obsolete practices. We’ve banned the use of Federal Pacific Panels, among others, due to their proven high risk of fire and electrocution. In short, the electrical systems of modern homes are much safer than your grandparents era because we’ve drastically changed the electrical practices and methods to ensure the utmost safety. For more modern safety tips, read our latest blog on Electrical Safety during the Holidays.

Some may argue that, If it was good enough then, it’s good enough now. However the reality is, we simply didn’t know any better at the time. Much like cars without seatbelts, no one would consider such a thing today. When it comes to the safety of your family, are you really willing to trust the safety standards of a generation that recommended cigarettes to expecting mothers to help them relax?


Hire An Electrical Specialist, It’s Well Worth It!

You wouldn’t hire a bicycle repairman to work on your vintage Harley Davidson would you? How about having a Medical Student perform a kidney transplant? No? Then what about the unlicensed local Jack-of-all-Trades; you know, that guy around town who builds decks and paints fences for beer money? How would you feel about hiring him to work on your home electrical wiring and keeping your family safe?

When your older home is in need of some electrical TLC, call a professionally trained, licensed & insured electrician that specializes in working on older homes. 

The electrical trade disciplines are vast and no one can claim to be an expert in every single facet. From industrial oil sands electricians to the fast pace of new construction, mastery of the techniques and best practices of each discipline can take years.

A good local electrician that specializes in old house electrical wiring should have a thorough knowledge of past wiring practices and be able to recognize the weaknesses unique to each of them. With their extensive experience they can advise you on how best to solve your electrical problems with the least amount of disturbance to your home.

Knowledge of past construction methods and awareness of hazardous building materials is also an asset. An electrician, who can’t recognize asbestos insulation in your attic won’t know how to work around it safely or inform you of the hazard. Take a look at some of Pilot Electric’s services, such as whole home surge protection

It’s essential that you contact licensed electricians for your own safety and to ensure your insurance is valid. If you sell your home, neglecting to disclose that an unqualified electrician worked on your home can be considered fraud. In the event of a claim, having someone without the correct qualifications work on your home can void your insurance, potentially leaving you without coverage.

Hiring a specialist electrician with a proven track record of working on older and heritage homes will pay for itself with peace of mind alone. Not only that, but you’ll save yourself money avoiding shoddy work, as well as the time and money to have it redone properly later.

Lastly, consider that your home may be the single largest investment of your life. Do you really want to gamble with your homes equity or the safety of your family? Hire a specialist and get it done correctly and safely the first time.   


Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Maybe that old house of yours isn’t like the British sports car at all. Perhaps it’s more like the old farm truck: worked on by every farm hand in history and patched together with used parts from who knows where. Is your home a time-bomb of anxiety and unexpected expense waiting to happen?

Whatever the Love-Hate relationship with your older home may be, one thing is for certain: unlike good wine, they do not improve with age! If the electrical wiring was bad 40 years ago, chances are it’s even worse now. Don’t let prolonged neglect turn into outright system failure and fire hazard.

We specialize in repairs and renovations of heritage homes and will send a fully qualified and licensed electrician to give you a full status report of your homes electrical system. We serve the South Okanagan area, including Naramata, Penticton, and Summerland.

If you have an older home or you’re concerned about the overall safety of your electrical system, call the pros at Pilot Electric Services today.

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