Thursday, June 17, 2021

Hazards of outdated electrical wiring

Hyderabad: Old is not always gold, especially if it is about buildings and wirings.

In this digital age, when people are getting dependent on electronic appliances for almost everything in daily life, especially with the advent of gadgets like smart power strips and so on, the need for astute management of power and related appliances has increased manifold.

To suit the power requirements and comforts of the occupants, builders are setting up multiple power sockets in the rooms, besides laying special emphasis on circuit designing as well.

All this is being done for new buildings, ever thought what might be the case with old buildings? Upgrading of electrical safety, unfortunately, is hardly given any importance in such structures.

Despite the steep rise in power requirement and dependence on electronic appliances and gadgets, owners seldom accord priority to revamping the electrical safety or wiring in the structures, especially residential buildings. As a result, the probability of fires breaking out in old buildings is high.

Like all cities, there are many old buildings in Hyderabad as well. Last January, a fire broke out in the Khairatabad Regional Transport Authority and many documents were gutted in the fire. The building, which was several decades old, was powered with electrical wiring as old as the building itself.

According to statistics from the International Copper Association of India, (ICAI) among all the structures in which fire accidents were reported, about 35 per cent occurred in old buildings. Experts list out different reasons for the fire mishaps in old buildings.

In the 80s and 90s, there was not much use of washing machines, geysers and other appliances. Then mobiles arrived and other gadgets too, but despite the increasing demand for load, owners, especially those of old buildings, continue to operate the appliances using the old wiring and systems, says Amol Kalsekar, Chief Manager (Building Wire), International Copper Association of India.

Most people tend to ignore the need to replace the insulation or ageing components. A socket, a wire or switch, which were fixed decades ago in a building, such cannot sustain the load pressure of present days, he explains.

Among the other factors, poor maintenance practices and not upgrading with the technology are also prime factors. Most owners hire unskilled electricians and manage to fix the problems like joining the wires with tapes etc., and these temporary solutions can turn out be very risky in the longer run.

It may be surprising, but many owners still do not insist on installation of Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCB) for the appliances. Refrigerators, fax machines, burglar alarms etc., should always be wired separately on circuits. Electricity to such appliances should continue through a separate MCB even after the master switch is turned off, ICAI experts recommend.

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