Is Your Old Home A Fire Hazard?
By Dave Donahue
For millions of people ownership of a home is one of the perks of working hard and putting your pennies where they count. So, what happens when you home starts to age? For those who have purchased their home before the 1970’s it may be time to start taking a serious look at some key factors. To begin with you may want to first determine if that older home is becoming a fire hazard. To determine this there are some things you should be looking for that may be cause for concern. Here is a list of factors which may very well have the potential to cause health issues as well as fire hazards.
1) Asbestos. Check the insulation in your home or better yet call in a professional to do an assessment. In older homes asbestos was commonly used as insulation, fire retardant and in textured paint. When it was first introduced this was thought of as an effective way of eliminating potential dangers that can arise however as studies concluded, this mineral fiber found in rocks and soil was found to cause Mesothilioma, a form of cancer. This cancer is potentially deadly and may take many years for symptoms to show up. If you believe your home may contain asbestos, contact a professional to check for it’s presence!
1) Electrical Panels. Since this is an electrical blog, it is imperative to address issues which may arise from outdated electrical panels. Older homes commonly were equipt with older electrical panels. The types of panels installed were Federal Pacifica, Pushmatic and Zinsco. The bottom of the list on these panels is the Federal Pacifica which is prone to fires. So, if your electrical panel looks old, it very well may be one of the above listed. If you have one, call your local electrician and look to get the thing replaced!
3) Foundation Issues. This is extremely important to fix considering radon can seep into the home through cracks and fissures. In older homes the presence of cracks in the foundation needs to be taken seriously. If you are finding cracks in your foundation it may be time to call a structural engineer. The damage caused by foundation cracks may be hazardous to your health!
4) Smoke Alarms. Check to make sure you have smoke alarms in each room. Older homes particularly may be lacking in adequate smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be present in each of the rooms, not just in the living room or kitchen. For an older home smoke alarms more often than not were installed hardwired. This means that if your smoke alarm consist of one or two old hardwired smoke alarms, it’s time to get it fixed. For an easy fix, battery operated alarms are easily found at any home improvement store. It’s best to have an electrician look at your smoke alarm system if in fact it is outdated!
These are just a few things to look for if you have an older home that was built before 1970. As far as electrical safety is concerned it should be noted that some Federal Pacifica Panels were in fact installed after the year 1970 so it is advised to check your panel if you are in question as to whether or not you have one of these. Older homes are also at risk of fire if you have older knob and tube wiring which were installed dating back to the 1940’s and earlier. The presence of knob and tube wiring is an indicator of an outdated electrical system.
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This is an original article written by Dave Donahue for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.
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