Is Your Home Electrical System Safe?
While we are a full service company and do all types electrical work, our main focus has always been house rewiring, electrical panel upgrades, and bringing older homes up to the safety standards of the National Electrical Code. We offer homeowners and businessmen Free Electrical Safety Inspections.
As part of our commitment to increase home electrical safety awareness, we have given numerous trainings to home inspectors throughout the Los Angeles area. Quality and safety are our priority, and we offer a Lifetime Guarantee on all our work.
This article includes information about the main home electrical safety issues. If you think you might have an electrical safety issue in your home and would like to find out more about it, please call our office between 8 am and 5 pm to discuss it with our in-office technician.
24 Hour Protection, Awake or Asleep
By providing early warning in the event of fire, smoke detectors can allow you and your family sufficient time to reach safety. Experts report that you can increase your chances of surviving in a home fire by 50% simply by having smoke detectors. Click here to read more about recommended maintenance, types of smoke detectors, and proper placement.
Panel Upgrades for Safety
Older Electrical Panels and Fuse Boxes
Circuit breakers and fuses protect your electrical wiring from overloads of electricity. Overloading can melt wires and cause fires and electrical shocks.
Whenever a wire is overloaded, the circuit breaker or fuse is supposed to cut the flow of electricity. Sometimes older circuit breakers don’t work fast enough and allow too much current through. Fuses can also be a safety concern. Sometimes, they’ve been replaced with improperly-sized fuses and no longer protect wires from overloading. These safety issues can be solved by installing modern circuit breakers. Click here for more on upgrading fuse boxes and older electrical panels.
Zinsco, Federal Pacific, and Pushmatic Electrical Panels
Today’s electrical panels are well-designed and safe. However, electrical panels installed in earlier times may create fire or shock hazards. Even if safe when originally installed, the brands of circuit breaker boxes listed below can become unsafe with age:
- Federal Pacific Electric Company electrical panels
- Zinsco electrical panels
- Pushmatic electrical panels
If you have one of these brands of electrical panels, click on the name above for more information.
The National Electrical Code requires that outlets in the vicinity of water be equipped with a device called a “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter” or GFCI (GFI). GFCIs are required in all bathrooms, kitchens, garages, pools, and some outdoor areas. GFCIs can protect your family against deadly electrical shocks and are inexpensive to install. Click here for more on GFCIs.
Old Cloth Insulated Wires
If your house was built before 1950, it likely has electrical wires with cloth insulation. Over time, the cloth dries out and becomes brittle. Eventually, it crumbles off the wire, exposing bare wires that can short-circuit and cause shocks or fires. Old cloth-insulated wires should be replaced with plastic-insulated wires. Plastic insulation lasts indefinitely and completely resolves the safety issue. Click here for more on old cloth-insulated wires.
Knob & Tube Wiring
Fire and Shock Hazards
Knob & Tube wiring gets its name from the white ceramic knobs around which wires were wound and the short ceramic tubes through which wires were guided. This type of wiring is usually found in homes built before 1935, although it can sometimes be seen in houses built as late as 1950.
Knob & Tube systems use old cloth-insulated wires and are not grounded. We strongly recommend that Knob & Tube wiring be replaced to eliminate fire and electrical shock hazards. Click here for more on Knob & Tube wiring.
Is Your Home Properly Grounded?
A properly grounded electrical system routes occasional leaking electricity through a “ground wire” or metal piping into the ground. Without grounding, excess electricity can cause fires, damage to electrical appliances and computers, and also shocks to residents.
Older homes built under earlier electrical codes will often have outlets for two-prong plugs. This is often an indication of an ungrounded electrical system. Sometimes, the outlets have been replaced with the modern three-prong type, but without actually adding a metal route to the ground. This can make it appear that the system is grounded when it’s not.
Even if grounding was installed at one time, it may fail due to loose or corroded connections and splices. A qualified electrician can check your wiring with a special tester to determine if it’s fully grounded. Click here for more on grounding your electrical system.
Whole House Surge Protection
For Your Appliances
An electrical surge is a sudden increase in power that flows through electrical wires. Surges can cause damage to computers, phones, entertainment systems, microwaves, stoves, fridges, washers – any device that has electronic components such as sensors and timers. Today, that’s most appliances.
A Whole House Surge Protector can save your appliances and electronic devices and save you thousands of dollars in damage.
Extension Cord Safety Hazards
If your home or business depends on the use of extension cords for more than a temporary fix, you might want to consider adding a new circuit or outlet to your electrical system. Misuse of extension cords causes a surprising number of home fires. The solution is to add electrical circuits and/or outlets where you really need them. For more on extension cord electrical hazards, click here.
A Hidden Danger
Most homes have copper electrical wires. However, from the mid-1960s to the mid- 1970s, over 2,000,000 U.S. homes were wired with aluminum. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has determined that aluminum wiring is hazardous as, over time, connections and splices can fail, resulting in fires and shocks.
Fortunately, a qualified electrician can upgrade an aluminum wiring system without replacing all the wires with copper. It’s possible to eliminate the fire hazard by upgrading only connection points and splices. Aluminum wiring safety retrofits should be done only by electricians specifically trained to upgrade aluminum wiring safely. Click here for more on retrofitting aluminum wiring.