Electrical Tricks Of The Trade – It’s not just a powerful social network of old. The wiring in many homes is also outdated, straining to supply our ever-growing collection of power-hungry appliances, lights and electronics.
Electrician Allen Gallant, who installed six electrical wires, says: “The circuits in these old homes were not designed to use the many tools of modern life.
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Signs of stress can be obvious—the friction of extension cords and power lines running in the same area—or they can hide behind walls, ceilings, and covering plates.
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Fuse boxes, like the one above, are less common these days than circuit panels, but they work fine – unless one installs fuses with a higher amperage than the wires can safely handle. . That can cause the cables to overheat, damaging their insulation and increasing the risk of fire.
Once the insulation is damaged, the hazard remains even if the offending fuse is replaced with a correct one. To fix it, the old circuit must be rebuilt.
Some wiring problems are just distractions. But some can cause serious fire or electrical hazards. If you’re buying a home (especially one that’s over 50 years old), or if you haven’t had your wiring checked, it’s a good idea to hire a licensed electrician to properly service your home.
“You’re going to look at the wiring to see if it’s dry and damaged, you’re going to look at the service panel for corrosion, and you’re going to look to see if the previous owner did anything unsafe. ,” Gallant says. After that, he recommends getting a quick follow-up exam every five years.
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Don’t panic if the test reveals a violation. Whenever the electrical code is updated, the old wiring is “out-of-date,” assuming it was installed correctly. The code only requires you to upgrade the cables in the rooms that are being gutted.
To help you assess the health of your electrical system, we asked Gallant to pick the 10 most common wiring problems he sees, the dangers they cause, and his recommended solutions.
Remember: Whenever you work with wiring, be sure to turn off the circuit at the main circuit breaker.
What it means: The lamp has a bulb with a higher wattage than it was designed to use.
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Risk level: High. The intense heat of the bulb can crack or melt the socket and penetrate the appliance’s wiring, increasing the risk of an explosion – sparks jumping in the air from one wire to another – a major cause of fire. of electricity. Damage to the socket and wires remains even after the bulb is removed.
Solution: Stay within the water limit listed on all light fixtures manufactured since 1985. For older, unmarked fixtures, use only 60-watt bulbs or smaller.
What it means: Since the junction box contains the wires to which the wires are connected, someone can accidentally damage the wires or panic.
What it means: Broken wires on the weatherstripping (the outer covering where the overhead wires from the power line enter the house) cause noise whenever the wires move.
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Code violation? No; grandfathered in. (Today’s codes require appliances within 4 feet of the door and every 12 feet after that.)
Risk level: Minimal, as long as you use heavy-duty extension cords, 14-gauge or thicker. (The thicker the wire, the lower the gauge.) Undersized wires (16 gauge or smaller) can overheat and start a fire if the load is too heavy. .
Solution: Add more resources. Expect to pay an electrician about $100 per first-floor shop and double that for second-floor work. (There will probably be a lower fee.) This work requires cutting holes in the walls and ceiling in order to avoid cables. Some electricians will plug the holes; others leave the correction to you.
What it means: Increased risk of electrocution in wet areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens. GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters) close circuits in 4 milliseconds, before electricity can cause a fatal shock.
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Code violation? No; grandfathered in. (Codes today require GFCIs in any sink and in the garage, basement, and outside stores.)
Solution: Replace the old receptacles with GFCIs (about $12 each). This is a simple task that many homeowners do. Electricians charge about $20 per outlet. (There may be a small labor charge.) Note: Alternatively, GFCI breakers ($25) can be installed in the main electrical panel. But every time someone leaves, you have to go downstairs to reset it.
What it means: The panel has more circuits than it is rated to handle because too many single-digit (single-circuit) breakers have been replaced by tandem (two circuits) in the same area. (Tandem breakers are not the same as high-amp double-pole breakers, which occupy two slots per circuit.) The label on each panel indicates whether the panel can accommodate which circuits. where.
Risk level: Minimum. It may be an issue when the house is being sold and the inspector looks inside the panel.
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Solution: Add a subpanel with a few extra slots ($250), or, if you’re planning a major home improvement, replace the existing panel with a larger model ($500 to $800) .
What it means: You have a type of wire, used in the 1960s and 1970s as a substitute for cheap copper, which is now considered safe.
Risk level: High. Aluminum corrodes when it comes in contact with copper, so the connections become loose, which can lead to arcing and fire.
Solution: Replace an approved dielectric wire for aluminum wire (sold for less than $1) over each copper/aluminum connection in the light fixtures. These nuts contain special oils that stop rotting while maintaining conductivity. Make sure switches and other devices are labeled AL-compatible.
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What it means: On new switches and appliances, wires pushed to the back are more likely to come loose than those anchored near screw terminals.
Risk level: Depends. At the very least, loose wires can cause an appliance or switch to stop working. In the worst case, they can start a fire.
Solution: Check for blocked connections on the back by removing the switch or receptacle from its outlet box. If a person has been stabbed in the back, there may be more. Loosen the wires and attach them to the screw terminals on the receiver.
What it means: Your home’s wiring has no way to safely conduct any stray current.
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Risk Level: At least, unless you use an adapter to insert a three-prong plug into a two-prong receptacle. Doing so may damage the device you are installing and increase the risk of electrocution.
Solution: Replace the two-prong with a properly grounded three-prong, if the wiring allows it (Also, test all existing three-prong outlets with a GFCI circuit breaker to make sure that they are down. Return the ones that are not.
Solution: Remove old containers as soon as possible. (A new one costs about R2.) Most homeowners feel comfortable doing this themselves. Electricians will charge about $8 or $10 per shop, although there may be a smaller fee for smaller jobs.
Today’s most common house telephones are plastic-coated, three-wire cord, commonly known by the trade name Romex. But the old copper wiring in most older homes works just as well as the new, as long as it’s in good condition and hasn’t been modified in a way that violates code. Here are the wiring systems you will find in older homes.
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A traditional residential telephone system consists of a hot wire covered with a cloth and a neutral wire, which runs parallel to each other by feet. Ceramic bowls fasten the wires to the frame of the house; ceramic tubes are used where wires cross or penetrate.
Caveats: It cannot be created or separated from the established circuit. Its sales links may dissolve if too much time is spent on them. Reconnect or disconnect any covered circuits in the building; it causes this phone to overheat.
Successor to the knob and tube. A flexible metal sheath covers the hot and neutral wires, which are encased in a rubber-coated cloth. The sheath provides grounding, so it is easy to replace ground-based equipment.
Caveats: Sheath must be held securely in a metal box. Review participation status every five years or so; it breaks down over time, as shown above, or if too much time is allowed to flow through the circuit.
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Get the latest Old House news, tips, tricks, and DIY Smarts projects from our experts—to your inbox. The most important skill required to assemble any electronic project is soldering. Basic soldering is a skill that is easy to learn and not too difficult to master but misconceptions about proper techniques involve many people who don’t know where to start. Soldering is accomplished by rapidly heating metal or metal to join metal surfaces together. A good soldering job can be rewarding while a poor job can cause electrical failure and frustration. These steps will help improve your sales skills as well as teach you the basics and importance of improving your sales skills. Doing the job right the first time
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