Bob Vila Radio: Is Old Wiring Putting Your Home at Risk?

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, outdated or faulty wiring contributes to an estimated 51,000 fires each year. Worried as to what may be behind the walls in your house? Stay on the lookout for subtle signs of a serious problem.

How up to date is the electrical wiring in your home? If you’re not sure, it’d be a good idea to have a licensed contractor take a look. Here are some red flags to watch for:

Old Electrical Wiring



Listen to BOB VILA ON OLD ELECTRICAL WIRING or read below:

Outlets and switches should be cool to the touch. If they’re not—and especially if they show scorch marks—you need to get a pro in for a look pronto.

Having to frequently reset your circuit breakers is another warning sign that your system is not up to snuff. And if you see even a tiny wisp of smoke coming from an outlet, an appliance, or from behind a baseboard, you should immediately switch off the main breaker and call for help.

If your lights dim when you turn on your microwave or AC, it may mean your wiring is carrying too big a load and needs to be upgraded. Also, watch for signs of damage from rodents—torn or flaked insulation and such. For some reason, mice and rats love to munch on electrical wiring.

Finally, make sure your breaker box is clearly marked, showing what circuits go where. That’ll make trouble-shooting a whole lot easier if the need arises.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!