If your home was built mid 1960's to late 1970's then it may have Aluminum Wiring. Aluminum Wiring is silver in color as opposed to a brownish color for copper wire. You can google aluminum wiring and see lots of pics.
When Aluminum Wiring is found in a home, home inspectors are required to report on it...many insurers may not provide or renew insurance coverage on these homes unless the wiring is inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), repaired or replaced as necessary, and a copy of the Certificate of Inspection is provided to the insurer. You should check with your insurance company for their requirements.
Why is Aluminum Wiring an issue?
This is due to the tendency of aluminum wiring to oxidize (rust), and aluminum’s incompatibility with devices designed for use with copper wiring only. Aluminum has a higher rate of expansion than copper wiring, which can lead to loose connections, arcing and melting, eventually fire. Aluminum wiring should only be connected to approved electrical devices.
Note: Warm cover plates or discolouration of switches or receptacles, flickering lights or the smell of hot plastic insulation may be evidence of poor or improperly made connections.
How to resolve the issue of Aluminum Wiring:
A Licensed Electrician should be hired to throughly inspect the house. The Aluminum wiring and all electrical outlet, switches and any fixture that the wiring is connected to must be approved for the use of aluminum wiring. The licensed electrician may pig tail the wire, which is connecting a copper wire to the aluminum wire and then connecting the other end of the copper wire to the screw terminal of the electrical fixture (see picture to the left of this paragraph). And or the licensed electrician may also use a special paste to coat the aluminum wire so it may reduce or slow down the oxidation process.
MUST READ THIS: Here is more information from the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) which provides information on Aluminum Wiring and the need for a "safety certificate". Once your on the ESA Aluminum Wiring page scroll down to the bottom to find the News Flash pdf.
Knob & Tube Wiring is typically found in Homes up to 1950's. It consisted of single insulated copper conductors run within wall or ceiling cavities, passing through joist and stud drill-holes via protective porcelain insulating tubes, and supported along their length on nailed-down porcelain knob insulators. Just google knob and tube you will see tons of pics.
Where conductors entered a wiring device such as a lamp or switch, they were protected by flexible cloth insulating sleeving. The first insulation was asphalt-saturated cotton cloth, then rubber became common. Wire splices in such installations were twisted for good mechanical strength, then soldered and wrapped with friction tape (asphalt saturated cloth), or made inside metal junction boxes.
Why is Knob and Tube wiring an issue?
1. Knob-And-Tube wiring never included a safety grounding conductor. 2. It permitted the use of in-line splices in walls without a junction box (and thus exposing a potential fire hazard of a possible spark caused by arcing following mechanical failure of the splice). Especially a concern if a homeowner decided to install an additional outlet and tie it into the old wiring. 3. Improper fuse ratings were used to compensate for the overtaxing of a circuit.
What to do if you suspect Knob and Tube wiring:
You should consult with your insurance company as to what their policy is. They may require a licensed electrician further evaluate as to how many circuits there are and the condition of the wiring. They may allow a percentage of knob and tube or they may require an upgrade to more modern wiring. Always check with your insurance company as to what there specific policy is.
MUST READ THIS: Here is more information from the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) which provides information on Knob and Tube wiring. Once your on the ESA Knob and Tube page scroll down to the bottom to find a News Flash pdf.
GFCI - A ground fault happens whenever electricity escapes the confines of the wiring in an appliance, light fixture, or power tool and takes a shortcut to the ground. When that short cut is through a human, the results can be deadly. About 200 people in the U.S. Alone die of ground faults each year, accounting for two-thirds of all electrocutions occurring in homes.
To prevent such accidents, Charles Dalziel, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, invented the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), in 1961. Most of the time, his invention does nothing; it just monitors the difference in the current flowing into and out of a tool or appliance. But when that difference exceeds 5 milliamps, an indication that a ground
GFCI's should be installed withing 3 feet (1.5 meters) of any water source such as - bathroom and kitchen sinks, laundry tubs, whirlpools, jacuzzi's, exterior outlets such as garages, swimming pools and spas. There is an Ontario Building Code Requirement for the placement of GFCI's.
You may notice a home built after around 1986 may only have GFCI's at the bathroom sinks and the reset button may actually be located inside the main electrical panel. Homes built after around 2010 should also have GFCI's at the outlets near the Kitchen sinks and Laundry Tubs.
Homes that have been recently renovated should also have GFCI's installed at all outlets as stated above and near Kitchen Sinks, Laundry Tubs and or any outlet withing 3 feet (1.5 meters) of any water source.
Tip - If your renting out a home and or basement apartment then you may also want to make sure you have GFCI's in all required locations - possible safety issue which may also lead to a law suit.
Final Note: GFCI's can be purchased at most hardware stores usually for approx $15-$40 depending on the type. I recommend that a Qualified Licensed Electrician perform all electrical work.
Why Test a GFCI?
GFCI's are a mechanical device which means that they can fail. Sometimes they may fail and still provide power, other times they may not. GFCI's have two buttons on the face of the receptical/outlet some may have blue and white or red and white or the same colours. One button is actually a "test" button and they other is a "reset" button. It is recommended that ALL GFCI's be tested just after installation and on a monthly basis for proper operation.
Not sure how much electricity your using? And you don't really know where to start with the math. Luckily there are programs out there that can do the math for you, all you need is to plug in a few numbers.
HydroOne calculator is the Appliance Cost Calculator where you can pick an individual appliance like an air cleaner or can opener or one of about 30-40 get the cost to operate the appliance.
Disclaimer: This information is provided for general information purposes only. Any reliance or action taken based on the information, materials and techniques described are the responsibility of the user. Readers are advised to consult appropriate professional resources to determine what is safe and suitable in their particular case. DASH Inspection Services assumes no responsibility for any consequence arising from use of the information, materials and techniques described. Any reference to a specific company is for general information only. I highly recommend you get a min of three quotes and do your homework.