Old Wiring: The Fire Risk that Hides in Homes - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Old Wiring: The Fire Risk that Hides in Homes

Posted: Updated:

Old wires are danger that's out of sight and out of mind, until they fail.

That happened twice on Sunday, causing two separate house fires. The fire on E. 9th Street just raised a scare with some smoke. But fire on W. 3rd blazed for hours, and left the home a total loss.

New Erie homeowner Axy Ruiz had no idea what dangers were in his walls until his pipes froze, burst, and left a hole in his kitchen wall.

"You don't know until the problem happens. We wouldn't have known the wiring was that old due to the fact that it was hidden behind walls," Ruiz said.

The inspection by J.E. Hilbrich Electric found wires held together by electrical tape, old-form insulated with fabric, already starting to fray, and extension cords built into the walls - a high risk for power overloads.

"This is called an illegal splice, meaning the power source is split," said John Hanke, an electrician for J.E. Hilbrich and former Fire Chief of the Keasarge Fire Department. The cord ran from the basement wall upstairs, likely to a kitchen outlet.

"Especially running a refrigerator or a microwave, that extension cord is going to break down and it's going to cause a fire," Hanke said.

Old wiring is not an isolated problem.

"Probably 35% of the homes in Erie still have this old wiring system in them," said John Hilbrich of Hilbrich Electric, holding an outdated wire. The wire was insulated with paper and fabric, and not designed to handle the electrical loads commonly used by households today. It becomes a safety hazard when the cords are overloaded, then start to fray and spark. 

Adding to the problem: old houses have fewer outlets, which further raises the risk of overloading a circuit.

"A lot of the houses we go in to when we do a residential re-wire are operating off of four to six circuits for the entire house. Under today's standard code, we're putting four to six circuits in the kitchen alone," Hilbrich said.

Rewiring a home isn't cheap, typically costing between $5,000-$9,000 depending on the size of the house.

Ruiz wasn't expecting the extra cost of rewiring when he bought the house, but he does see the sliver lining.

"Knowing a little bit about electrical stuff, that old wiring if it gets wet, could've sparked a real bad fire," he said. "And rewiring the house, now I can remodel and get a whole new kitchen."

Houses built before 1980 are installed with old wiring. Residents unsure of whether their home has been updated can contact a licensed electrician for an inspection.

 

Submit your event now
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Second Fatal Motorcycle Accident In Two Days

    Second Fatal Motorcycle Accident In Two Days

    Saturday, July 19 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-07-19 22:50:19 GMT
    One person is dead following a motorcycle accident on I-90.More >>
    One person is dead following a motorcycle accident on I-90.More >>
  • Millcreek Police Say Bank Robberies Connected

    Millcreek Police Say Bank Robberies Connected

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:16 AM EDT2014-07-22 15:16:53 GMT

    Police say the two latest bank robberies in Erie County were pulled off by the same man.

    More >>

    Police say the two latest bank robberies in Erie County were pulled off by the same man.

    More >>
  • Erie Forge & Steel Continues Demolition

    Erie Forge & Steel Continues Demolition

    Monday, July 21 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-07-21 23:08:50 GMT
    Work continues nearly one month into the demolition of Erie Forge Steel's former melt shop.More >>
    Work continues nearly one month into the demolition of Erie Forge Steel's former melt shop.
    More >>
  • Roar on the Shore 2014 Concludes

    Roar on the Shore 2014 Concludes

    Sunday, July 20 2014 6:03 PM EDT2014-07-20 22:03:07 GMT
    With every sweep of a broom and dropping of a tent, crews cleaned up downtown Erie Sunday as Roar on the Shore comes to a close.More >>
    With every sweep of a broom and dropping of a tent, crews cleaned up downtown Erie Sunday as Roar on the Shore comes to a close.
    More >>
  • Grape Juice Of Wrath: Local Farmers Feeling The Pinch

    Grape Juice Of Wrath: Local Farmers Feeling The Pinch

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:45:55 GMT
     In a push to aid local grape farmers, U.S. Senator Bob Casey is looking to the U.S Department of Agriculture as the state embarks on a surplus of Concord grape juice. Its grape juice made possible by more than 150 grape growers here in Pennsylvania who cultivate nearly 7,000 acres of product on a national scale. More >>
     In a push to aid local grape farmers, U.S. Senator Bob Casey is looking to the U.S Department of Agriculture as the state embarks on a surplus of Concord grape juice. Its grape juice made possible by more than 150 grape growers here in Pennsylvania who cultivate nearly 7,000 acres of product on a national scale. More >>
  • Two Hospitalized in Millcreek Motorcycle Accident

    Two Hospitalized in Millcreek Motorcycle Accident

    Friday, July 18 2014 9:19 PM EDT2014-07-19 01:19:26 GMT
    Friday night there was more warning for all drivers on the road to be alert, when a motorcycle collided with a car.More >>
    Friday night there was more warning for all drivers on the road to be alert, when a motorcycle collided with a car.More >>
  • Prime State Street Properties Still For Sale

    Prime State Street Properties Still For Sale

    Monday, July 21 2014 5:41 PM EDT2014-07-21 21:41:21 GMT
    Two prime business locations on State Street, that were put up for sale months ago, have yet to be sold. Under the Clock restaurant, inside the old Boston Store building, was closed on November 20. The Cell Block nightclub closed on March 2. John Buchna, CEO of the Erie Downtown Partnership, says his agency is helping to locate potential buyers. He says he has been in contact with a few people who are interested in the Under the Clock location. Buchna said a possible sale of the Cell Block...More >>
    Two prime business locations on State Street, that were put up for sale months ago, have yet to be sold. Under the Clock restaurant, inside the old Boston Store building, was closed on November 20. The Cell Block nightclub closed on March 2. John Buchna, CEO of the Erie Downtown Partnership, says his agency is helping to locate potential buyers. He says he has been in contact with a few people who are interested in the Under the Clock location. Buchna said a possible sale of the Cell Block...More >>
  • Cafeteria & Custodial Workers Protest in Oil City

    Cafeteria & Custodial Workers Protest in Oil City

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:23 PM EDT2014-07-22 03:23:03 GMT
    Members of the SEIU 32BJ union say it's a decision that would destroy their lives. "This isn't even just about a paycheck," said SEIU 32BJ representative Peter Schmidt. "This is about saving peoples livelihoods and keeping something good here in Oil City." On Monday, the group met with the Oil City School Board, to protest the district's plan to outsource cafeteria and custodial jobs. "These people aren't going to care about the children like we do,” said custodian Vickie Conn. “They're not...More >>
    Members of the SEIU 32BJ union say it's a decision that would destroy their lives. "This isn't even just about a paycheck," said SEIU 32BJ representative Peter Schmidt. "This is about saving peoples livelihoods and keeping something good here in Oil City." On Monday, the group met with the Oil City School Board, to protest the district's plan to outsource cafeteria and custodial jobs. "These people aren't going to care about the children like we do,” said custodian Vickie Conn. “They're not...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
3514 State St. Erie, PA 16508
Newsroom: (814)454-8812
Toll Free: 1(800)454-8812
Business offices: (814)454-5201
WICU FCC Filing
WSEE FCC Filing
Share:
Share Stories
Submit your stories to our site!
Share Photos
Share your photos in our community galleries
Mobile:
Mobile Site
Be sure to stay constantly updated with the power of WICU12 and WSEE at your fingertips
Free Android App
Free iPhone App
Free iPad App
Storm Tracker App
Droid
iPhone
iPad
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WICU. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
                   WICU/WSEE - 3514 State Street Erie, PA 16508 - (814) 454-5201 - info@wicu12.com