It isn't easy to detect an electrical fire in your home. Ask my daughter. She got home from an event several nights ago, walked into the house and smelled something burning. They walked through the house looking for the source of the smell. They didn't find anything obvious. While her spouse put the children to bed, she phoned me. She knows that I know a whole lot about what can go wrong with a house. I told her that it sounded like an electrical fire and that she should call the fire department right now. I was flattered that my child would call me first, but she needed to call the fire department. Right NOW!
And it is a good thing she did. There was an electrical line smoldering inside the walls of her 100-year-old house. The fire department showed up with very specialized tools that make it possible for them to read the heat of the walls. They were able to quickly find and solve the problem. By "solve the problem" I don't mean that they fixed the electrical issue. An electrician got to do that the next day. What the fire fighters did was...fight fires. They isolated the electrical circuit and cut off the power to the circuit. I don't know if they opened up the wall, but that wouldn't surprise me at all. Bottom line was that they made it possible for my child and her sweet family to be able to go to sleep safely. Thank you Fire Fighters!
My daughter tells me that the technology that made it possible for the fire fighters to "read" the walls was really interesting to watch. I told her that I was pretty sure that some home inspectors have some tools like that, but that it was unusual to run into those detectors with the average home inspector.
My daughter's house has a mash-up of 100 years of electrical wiring. She has some knob-and-tube and well as probably every other wiring style of the last 70 years. Knob-and-tube isn't intrinsically dangerous. But it requires a level of vigilance that makes it easier to just replace it. I have told my child that it is time for her and her spouse to give serious consideration to having a competent professional evaluate their entire electrical system and either clean it up or start all over. Having that work done will be more than the deductible on her fire insurance, but that the cost to completely rewire a house isn't as much as people think. And, it beats the hassle and inconvience and danger of a house fire every time.
I have a lifetime of history with old houses. I love old houses. I will put up with a whole lot of the inconveniences that can come with an old house. But, I will not put up with old wiring. Not wanting to over-dramatize the point, but old wiring can kill you. Wiring fires are very serious, mostly because they are not obvious until it is entirely too late.
If you buy an old house, work with a professional to develop a electrical up-grade plan for your home. If you are working with me to buy a home anywhere in the Dallas-Ft Worth area, we will begin the process of getting those professionals lined up before closing, so you can begin the work as soon as you own the home. Interested? Click here to access my website or better, just phone me at 214-228-9828
Take-away concept here? If you smell something burning and can't find the source, call the fire department. Don't hesitate. Don't be concerned about appearing foolish because you haven't seen the fire yet. If you smell something burning, SOMETHING in your home is on fire! Call the fire department and let them detect where the fire is in your home, especially if it is an electrical fire!