Is My Old Wiring Going to Start a Fire?
Should I be worried that I’ve fried the electrical wiring within the wall and I am going to start a fire?
Electrical Wiring Problem
Electrical Question: Should I be worried that I’ve fried the electrical wiring within the wall and I am going to start a fire?
Ian in Utah asks:
- I’ve owned and lived in a 1938 cape cod bungalow for 3.5 years. The home has some new line/connection from the street, new breaker panel, new lines to main junction boxes (which I can see in the unfinished basement), new outlets and new light switches, but it has the original line within the walls to the overhead lights, to the outlets and to the light switches.
- I recently created a diagram to know what lights and outlets are on which breaker. to my horror, I found that around half the house is on a single breaker. I have plans to have this remedied, but I have an immediate concern. on one of the outlets that is on the overloaded breaker, I have a power strip with an eight foot cord.
- I’ve plugged an iron into the cord most mornings for several years. the only time the breaker has ever tripped is when I’m running a space heater in the bathroom at the same time I have the iron on. (I think the kitchen fridge is on this breaker, too.) Recently, when I plug the iron in, even when the space heater is not on, the breaker on the power strip (not the breaker on the main panel) trips off. yesterday I wondered if I smelled burning, but I’m thinking it may have been the iron. Today when the power strip tripped off after a couple of minutes, I decided I better ask an expert what they think is going on.
- Should I be worried that I’ve fried the line within the wall and am going to start a fire? do I need to have my plaster walls torn apart to replace all the line?
Thanks for taking a question.
Additional Comments: Very grateful for your service. I’ll hire someone if I need to, I just need to get the lay of the land to know the right things to ask.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Ian.
Tripping Breaker for a Wall Outlet
Application: Tripping Circuit Breaker for an Outlet.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Electrical Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, Voltage Tester, and appropriate Safety Gear.
Estimated Time: Depends on the personal level experience, ability to work with tools, install electrical circuit wiring, and the available access to the project area.
Electrical Safety: Identify the electrical power source to the Wall Outlet, turn it OFF and Tag with a Note before working with the electrical wiring.
Electrical Wiring Parts and Materials: Electrical parts and materials for the Wall Outlet should be approved for the specific project and compliant with local and national electrical codes.
Electrical Codes and Inspections: Installing or changing home electrical wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes as adopted in your specific area. A permit and inspections may also be required.
How to Fix a Tripping Breaker for a Wall Outlet
This electrical wiring project is about a Tripping Breaker of a Wall Outlet in an Old Home.
Wall Outlet Tripping Breaker, Half the House is on a Single Breaker
- Ian, from the information you have provided, the electrical integrity of all of the old house wiring and the new house wiring should be inspected and checked.
- I would have the electrical wiring of the outlet circuits checked to see if the wiring has over heated. If so then the circuit wiring may need to be replaced depending on the extent of the damage.
- All of the existing outlet circuit wiring that has been connected to the newer wiring in the junction boxes should be checked to make sure the wire types and sizes are amperage compatible, and the circuit breakers in the panel that the newer wiring is connected to should be checked to make sure they are sized correctly as well.
- The electrical circuits of the home should be updated and brought up to the current electrical codes. For example, this would include installing dedicated circuits into areas such as the kitchen and bathrooms, and installing smoke detectors and GFCI outlets in the required locations.
- Also, keep in mind that plug strips will have electrical specifications showing the amperage or watt rating, however high energy appliances such as an iron should not be plugged into a plug strip.
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