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Serving the Buffalo Area since 1995

Scherer Electric Blog

Outdated Wiring Systems We Recommend Changing


We offer many important services to upgrade the electrical systems of homes throughout Western New York. Since the area has so many vintage homes, there’s a large number of houses with wiring decades out of date. Not only do these antiquated wiring systems have trouble handling modern electrical loads, they can create fire hazards.

If you have a home built before 1980, we recommend contacting our electricians to inspect your house and see if you need electrical wiring and rewiring in Depew, NY

There are two specific cases of outdated wiring common in New York that we recommend fully upgrading: aluminum wiring and knob-and-tube wiring.

Aluminum Wiring

Electricians have preferred copper wiring since the early days of indoor electricity. However, during the 1960s, the cost of copper rose and electricians sought a less expensive alternative. Aluminum became a popular substitute. Aluminum is a conductive metal, although not as efficient as copper. However, it was deemed “good enough” at the time, and electricians installed larger gauge wires to make up for the lower efficiency. 

Unfortunately, aluminum wiring came with a set of problems beyond the reduced efficiency. Aluminum overheats faster than copper, and this was a serious problem when using larger gauge wires. The aluminum often burned off its insulating layer, creating a fire hazard. And because aluminum expands and contracts more than copper, a problem called “wire creep” set in where the expanding aluminum wires came loose from terminal screws. Corrosion was also a problem. Aluminum wiring went out of use in 1972.

If you live in a home built between 1965 and ‘72, you may have aluminum wiring. If you’re noticing frequently flickering lights and have regular electrical trouble, call us to find out if you need aluminum wiring replaced.

Knob-and-Tube Wiring

This is an even older type of wiring. It was used in homes from 1900 to the 1940s. A knob-and-tube wiring system has wires insulated with cloth and runs through a series of porcelain knobs that keep them raised away from flammable surfaces. This kind of wiring is also called “open wiring” because it is run through relatively open spaces such as underneath a house or in the attic. It was reasonably safe for the time when the cloth insulation on wires wasn’t dependable. 

Knob-and-tube wiring can be safe if it’s correctly updated. But this is extremely rare. When you have an electrical system that’s more than eighty years old, the chance that it’s still in excellent shape is close to nil. The cloth insulation decays and the porcelain knobs crack so that the wires start sagging toward wooden surfaces that can catch fire. If your home has knob-and-tube wiring, there’s a good chance the previous owners did patchwork DIY repairs to keep the system working, and these “repairs” can create dangerous situations. 

If you have knob-and-tube wiring, trying to better maintain it isn’t the best solution. Our electricians recommend a full rewiring for the house to bring it entirely up to modern codes. That includes upgrading the electrical panel and properly grounding the house. 

Scherer Electric Is Western New York’s Favorite Electrician! Call us for your home rewiring needs.

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