Ask any sparky or tradie what their greatest on-the-job concern is, and they’ll probably tell you that it’s faulty or aging wiring. And the fact that Australia’s nominal voltage of 230V wasn’t officially codified until 2000 is an indicator of just how precarious the deteriorating wiring in many pre-1980 properties can be.
Frequently blown fuses, power surges, and unusually high electric bills are clues that the wiring in your vintage, or unrestored property could be woefully outdated. These are more than just occasional annoyances: they could suggest the presence of dangerously exposed, corroded, or insufficiently rated wiring.
That’s why if you own a property that hasn’t been rewired to post-1980 Australian / New Zealand Standards (AS/NZSs), you need to get it done. And because both your safety and the safety of your property depend on it, you also need to insist on the highest quality cabling available.
You Can Trust High-Quality Electric Cables for Your Vintage Property
Let’s be honest: although it’s easy to assume that residential and commercial cables have always been manufactured to the same standards, they haven’t. As building standards have changed, the materials and technology used in cable manufacturing have also changed, making today’s insulated electrical cables and wires safer, more reliable, and better conductors than they’ve ever been.
AS/NZS 5000 prescribes the standards for single- and multi-core polymeric insulated cables up to 16mm conductor sizes; and from their tougher thermoplastic sheathing, to their improved current capacities, modern power cables are designed to resolve the problems that are endemic to older cables. New Twin Active Flat (TAF), and Twin & Earth Flat (T&EF) cables made with flexible, heat-treated copper conductors are the preference for residential and commercial installations, and they boast an array of features that include:
- AS/NZS 1125 compliant, 7-strand / 0,67mm heat-treated (annealed) copper conductors;
- V-90 PVC core insulation, with non-migratory 3V-90 sheathing; and,
- White sheathing with red, black, and green/yellow core colours.
With sizes ranging from 1.5mm² to 6mm², 450 / 750V insulated working voltages, and a 90ºC temperature rating, these electrical power cables are the perfect choice for both renovated, as well as new cabling. Their semi-rigid construction gives them the advantage for power points, lighting, and HVAC systems; and they’re able to resist the mechanical stresses and environmental exposure that’s responsible for most cable failures.
What are the Signs That Your Electric Cabling Needs Replacing
While you probably wouldn’t think twice about replacing a faulty electrical switch or appliance once you’ve identified it, isolating a potentially hazardous electrical cable problem can be considerably more difficult. The wiring under your roof, and inside your walls and crawl spaces may have been subjected to decades of wear and deterioration, which is why you can’t afford to ignore signs of live wiring problems.
There’s no shortage of indicators to tell you that you could be facing serious electrical power cable problems, and the most common ones include:
- Flickering lights. Flickering lights are indicative of loose or damaged conductors, including damages caused by rodents, or decades of abrasion against metal conduit and junction boxes.
- Burnt odors. No matter if it’s the result of overloaded conductors, or loose conductors rubbing against each other, the unmistakable smell of hot metal or plastic needs to be addressed immediately.
- Discoloured switch plates. Discolouring, along with surfaces that are hot to the touch, is another sure sign of persistent overloading that also needs to be addressed immediately.
Make no mistake: when you’re assessing the reliability of an older cable installation, nothing should be taken for granted. The consequences are too great to assume that an older installation hasn’t experienced some form of deterioration or unlicensed tampering; that’s why when you’re ready to have your home or business rewired, you want to be sure that your contractor orders only the best cables online for your property.
New Cabling Lets You Put Your Power Problems Behind You
Regardless of the type of property you own, safety, especially where fire and electrical protection are concerned, has to come first. And fortunately, when it comes to installing power cables, Australia has made tremendous progress in a relatively short period in standardizing both wiring rules and cable criteria.
Differences in wiring colours, variations in insulation quality, and low-quality conductors are only a few of the problems that vintage property owners have faced with their cabling. Not surprisingly though, most of these problems can be traced to a narrow range of material shortfalls, including:
- Sheath deterioration. A variety of cable sheathing materials has been used in Australia over the decades, including lead and Vulcanized Indian Rubber (VIR), all of which are susceptible to breaking down and leaving their conductors exposed.
- Mechanical inconsistency. Even though Australian voltages have varied from 220V to 240V, many vintage (tube and knob style) electrical systems were installed without grounding cables, and are dangerously prone to overheating, damage from power surges, or even fatal shocks.
- Antiquation. Whether it’s due to sheath breakdown or exposure to moisture, older conductors typically experience destructive galvanic corrosion, leading to persistent short circuits, increased line resistance, and hazardous overheating.
The fact is, there haven’t been many residential or commercial wiring problems that couldn’t in some part be attributed to material cable failings. AS/NZS 5000 has been crucial in ensuring that when it comes to any type of high-quality, long-life power cable, Australia can be counted on to have it.
The Final Word
At the end of the day, electricity is arguably one of the most crucial components of modern living. It’s entirely possible, however, that if you own a pre-1980s property, the wiring in that property could be anything but safe. As a minimum, you should have your electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician; but you should also be prepared for the possibility that the system may need to be replaced.
If rewiring is unavoidable, it’s important to know that today’s insulated electrical cables and wires are safer and more reliable than they’ve ever been. They have the long-lasting durability you want, with the compliance you need.