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Archive for July 2014

Revisiting the Subject of Knob & Tube Wiring

July 29, 2014

Knob and Tube Wiring a Potential Hazard

Knob and tube wiring that was installed and used correctly and remains in exceptional condition is not dangerous. Nevertheless, given the fact that these wiring systems haven’t been installed in homes since the 1940’s, knob and tube wiring present in homes today are certainly aging.

Stretching and sagging is a common problem, which can lead to unsafe contact between the wires. Insulation can weaken, and breakdown to expose the copper wiring. These systems lack a grounding conductor, which are standard in today’s wiring systems to reduce risk of electrocution and electrical fires. Furthermore, when these systems were installed, most of today’s appliances didn't exist, so they were designed for much lighter electrical loads than is standard today. As a result of the increased demand, knob and tube systems are often overloaded, which cause wires to overheat and become brittle, creating hidden hazards inside the walls.

Deficient modifications are a very common problem with knob and tube wiring as well, as amateur upgrades that have often been made over the years to oblige increasing electrical needs. One common issue found in these systems is inadequately done, unsafe splices that were meant to expand the system. Fuses are another problem area, as many homeowners, in order to reduce the frequency of blown fuses, replaced properly sized fuses with ones with higher resistances. This does prevent the fuses from blowing as often, but only by allowing circuits to be overloaded, which causes heat damage to the wiring.

Home insulation and knob and tube wiring can be a dangerous combination, since this form of wiring relies upon open space to disperse heat. When insulation is placed around these wires, heat can’t escape as it should, which can cause wires to overheat or break, becoming a fire hazard. The National Electric Code (NEC) states that knob and tube wiring should not be in hollow spaces of walls, ceilings and attics that are insulated with loose, rolled or foam materials that envelope the conductors.

Home Insurance Issues

If your home has knob and tube wiring that’s still in use, you may find that home insurance companies are hesitant to sell you a policy. Some insurance companies refuse to insure homes with this type of wiring altogether, while others may insure you after your system has been inspected and declared safe by a qualified electrician.

The bottom line is that knob and tube wiring is very likely to create a safety hazard in your home. Upgrading the system is an investment, but one that will pay off in safety, peace of mind, and a more functional and efficient electrical system. For more information on knob and tube wiring please contact McCurdy Electrical Services, Inc. at 781-595-7074.

 

Consider Attic Fan for Year-Round Savings

July 10, 2014

Attic Fan One

Want to keep your home cool in the hot, summer months without having to go broke in the process? Attic fans are a great, inexpensive way to make your air conditioner more efficient and considerably lower your utility bills. Attics can reach 150 degrees or more in the summer, especially in hot locations like Arizona or Florida. To lessen the heat you can install an attic fan, which will pull in the outside air and force out the hot attic air, lowering your air conditioning bill by 20% or more.

The Cost

The cost of an electrical fan and installation is comparatively inexpensive, and once installed requires almost no maintenance. Furthermore, over time, an attic fan will keep you from having to spend money on roof maintenance, as heat can damage your shingles. You may see asphalt shingles with curled-up corners or bulges, both signs of a too-hot attic.

An electrical fan kit can cost between $80 and $450, depending on the size, number of blades, quality, and noise level. On the other hand, if you’re looking to save on operation costs and prefer green energy, solar-powered fans are also available, and generally cost between $350 and $800. Hiring an electrician to install your attic fan is recommended.

It’s also recommended to choose a fan with a thermostat, a standard feature on most fans today, which you can set to go on and off at certain temperatures so that your fan will only run when needed.

Depending on the style of your roof, you may need to hire a professional roofer to install a ledge or mounting surface on which to place the fan. Otherwise, a hole may need to be made in your roof within which the fan is placed, and this needs to be appropriately insulated.

Cooling Tips

Proper insulation and ventilation is an important factor in keeping your home as cool as possible. Without proper insulation a great amount of cool air will escape and be lost, and hot air will seep into the rest of your home. In the winter the reverse effect will occur, raising your heating bills.

Ventilation is also important, for both warm and cold seasons. During cold months inadequate venting can lead to moisture buildup, which, if not able to escape, can rot the entire roof. In the summer months, the stagnant, hot air will have no place to escape and will dry out roof supports. You can increase ventilation by installing gable, soffit and other roof vents.