Was your home built before 1980? Many homes in and around Sydney still have their original wiring which in the worst case can mean that they wires are only insulated by cotton! Which simply put, is a severe fire risk for a number of reasons:
- The cotton insulation is not waterproof so if there is any sort of leak, such as a cracked roof tile, a burst pipe, and overflowing hot water tank or just a damp wall after a lot of rain – these can conduct electricity straight through the cotton insulation to the other cables and short circuit causing either a fire or power outage.
- The cotton has become brittle and frayed from its old age and just cracks off leaving exposed live wires! Once this happens, if someone is working up in your roof space or under the floors they could brush up against the bare wires and get electrocuted. This commonly happens with rats, possums and birds as well. Additional to the risk to people or animals, this process is also a leading cause of fire.
- The cotton insulation is actually a flammable material and overload of the circuit can result in the cotton self igniting as the cables glow red hot. This is the most likely chance for these cables to start a fire.
How do you know if you have sub standard wiring? Well a great indicator is if you look in the ceiling or under the floor and there are brown steel conduits for the cables to run in. These were almost exclusively used for VIR Cotton insulated cables and should definitely be checked out. Other than this though, there are a number of other indicators that will require an electrician to identify safely.
If your home was built before 1980 give us a call to get your wiring system checked out to make sure you’re safe.
Above – frayed VIR cotton cables and steel conduit
Above – a comparison of old frayed cotton cables next to modern plastic cables