The Dangers of Old Cabling

by | Feb 11, 2021 | Residential electrician

Home Page > Blog > The Dangers of Old Cabling

Time comes for everything, especially your home. Paint starts to chip, window hinges start to squeak, and lighting needs replacing. But there are some things in your home that especially don’t age well and can even put your family and home in danger.

Old cabling, some as old as 1910, puts you at risk for electrical fires and shocks and might not be something you are immediately aware of.

Keep reading to find out what these cables are and how you can identify if they are in your home.

VIR Cables

(Source:https://www.brightsparkelectrician.co.uk/news/vir-vulcanised-indian-rubber-electrical-cables/)

Vulcanised Indian rubber, or VIR, cables are copper conductors insulated with vulcanised rubber. When they were common practice, these cables were often installed in timber ducting or metal conduits.

These cables are typically found in villas, sometimes bungalows, and installed between the 1910s and the 1950s.

Because of unqualified or inadequate electrical work, it is not uncommon to find these old, deteriorating cables joined with new power points or light fittings. This is extremely dangerous as it puts the entire home and its occupants at risk for electrical fires or shock.

What makes these cables so dangerous is the crumbling of their rubber insulation. As the rubber dries out, it begins to crack and flake off, leaving live wires exposed within your home.

And if installed in metal conduit, the conductors could come into contact with the metal resulting in the entire conduit being live and dangerous.

Even if it hasn’t cracked, it is still unsafe to do any alterations, as disturbing the cable will ultimately cause the insulation to crumble. Something as innocent as accidentally touching the VIR cable can cause it to break.

These cables are now considered totally unsafe, and it is likely the home will need to be rewired with newer, modern cabling.

TRS Cables

(Source: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Tough_rubber-sheathed_cable)

Tough rubber sheathed cabling, while slightly newer than VIR, are still considered unsafe.

Installed between the 1950s and 1960s, TRS cables are frequently found in bungalow style houses.

These cables have copper conductors surrounded by rubber insulation. They are more similar to modern cables than VIR cables, however, they do not have an earth cable.

It is not uncommon to find these cables installed as unsheathed, bare earth cables running throughout the home. This kind of installation is now prohibited. Under new safety regulations, each electrical circuit must have its own independent earth cable in order to prevent accidental disconnection.

Like VIR cables, TRS cable’s rubber starts to crumble and fall away from the conductors, leaving behind live, exposed wiring.

This type of wiring very common and extremely dangerous, and it is often found with the insulation almost completely deteriorated.

TRS cabling should be immediately rewired with safe and modern cabling.

TPS Cables

(Source: https://shop.cnw.com.au/cnw/en/AUD/All-Categories/Cable-and-Wire/Flats/c/FLATS)

Thermoplastic sheathed cables first were installed in the 1960s and are the most durable, modern cables used to date. They have a much longer life span than VIR and TRS cables and can even last for several decades.

The copper conductor is sheathed in coloured thermoplastic insulation and doubled with another outer layer of thermoplastic insulation.

While this is the ideal cable for replacing old VIR or TRS cables, they will eventually reach the end of their long life span and need to be replaced.

These cables only become seriously dangerous when installed alongside poor insulation or from botched DIY electrical work.

For your home and your family’s safety, it is vital that you use certified and experienced electricians with a trustworthy reputation.

Non PVC Cabling

(Source: https://www.designnews.com/suppliers-challenge-pvc-cables-green-alternatives)

Unfortunately, PVC cabling can have negative impacts on the environment. They degrade, can leach contaminants, aren’t easily recyclable, and poor installation can cause fires.

However, some manufactures are starting to move away from PVC cables and embrace newer, greener options.

PVC free alternatives are slowly becoming more available. These cables can often be smaller and lighter than standard PVC and can be recycled in an everyday recycling bin.

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