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What Are the Most Common Hazards of Home Wiring?

Raccoons can damage home wiring.
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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Home wiring — the networks of electrical wiring that make it possible to run electrical appliances in home settings — can be potentially hazardous because of the risk of fire and shock due to faulty outlets, inappropriate wattage, and outdated wiring. Certain animals can also create harmful conditions in home wiring. Individuals may want to have their wiring inspected regularly in order to prevent these conditions from developing.

Older homes built before the 1960s or 1970s may contain aluminum wiring. This type of wiring was considered to be a low cost alternative to copper wiring, but is no longer thought to be as safe. When old aluminum home wiring comes into contact with newer copper wires, the aluminum can potentially corrode, leaving a home vulnerable to fires and sparks. Special nuts can be installed at the juncture of these two types of wires to prevent corrosion from occurring.

Outlets that do not hold plugs well can be potentially hazardous. If an outlet cannot firmly secure an electrical plug, it usually means that the contacts within the outlets are old and must be replaced to avoid sparks and fires. Another hazard of home wiring that may put a home at risk for fire occurs when too many items are plugged into one outlet. This usually happens when a homeowner relies on power strips and extension cords because of a lack of outlets in the home.

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Power outages and dimming or flickering lights may be experienced by many homeowners on a typical windy day, but these signs could also mean that there is a shorted wire in a home's outdoor fittings. The cables that carry electricity from the power pole to a home connect on a fitting. If the wires are loose or have shorted out in the fitting, every time the cables move in the wind, the home could lose power.

Animals like mice, raccoons, and other rodents can cause a great deal of harm to home wiring. These animals often chew on wires, which could allow the wires to spark and cause a fire. It is even more dangerous for home owners if the chewed home wiring is near a gas line or dry or rotten insulation.

Another potential wiring hazard can occur when an incorrect light bulb wattage is used in a lamp or light fixture. While a higher wattage may bring more light into a room, it can cause a lot of damage as well because of the heat it generates. It may melt the outlet it is plugged into, scorch the insulation, damage the wiring in the lamp and wall, or even cause a fire.

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