Exposed wiring is commonly caused by the usual wear and tear or during home renovations. In such projects, the wires are moved around and bent a lot, increasing the chances of the outer jacket getting ripped and exposing the electrical wires inside. If that happens, you should treat the exposed wiring like there's current flowing through it.
What Are the Dangers of Exposed Wires?
The insulation around cables and electrical cords protects us from the live electric current flowing through the wires. When damaged, here's what can happen:
- Exposed wires increase the risk of electrical fire because the hot and ground wires can touch, leading to a spark that could ignite a fire. Also, there's the likelihood of electric shocks or, worse, death through electrocution.
- Affects the efficiency of your appliances. When the power cords of your appliances have exposed wires, it can affect their efficiency because the gadgets may not receive the recommended power due to damage. Consequently, more current is drawn from the power socket, which can lead to a short circuit or power surge.
That said, here's what you need to do when you see exposed wiring in your house:
- Identify the exposed wire
Isolating a cable gives you a better understanding of the cause of the exposure. For instance, if there's a puncture in a wire's insulation, it's likely caused by nails or other hazards. Again, if it's a loose connection, determine how the wire was pulled from the fixture.
- Switch off the electrical circuit
Let's say there are exposed wires outside house. Where possible, identify which electrical circuit the exposed wires are on and switch off the connection by shutting off the breaker. This allows you to work safely without the risk of an electric shock.
- Wrap minor damage with electrical tape
Electrical tape is generally black, but you can find it in different colors that match the wire you want to repair. However, electrical tape is not advisable when the insulation in the middle of the positive and neutral wire is damaged. Also, neither duct tape nor other types of tape shouldn't be used to cover exposed wires. For significant cuts, you can use wire nuts.
Keep in mind: Electrical tape wears out over time, so you might have to replace it with a new layer.
- Call a qualified electrician
If you're uncertain about repairing an exposed wire, it's advisable to seek the input of a professional electrician. This is because a replacement can be the only solution, especially when a cable is excessively worn out and its electrical wires keep getting exposed.
Can You Touch Exposed Grounding Wires?
First, hot wires carry electric current from the mains and over to the load. Neutral cables, however, bring power from the load back to the mains. Generally, the ground wire doesn't carry electric current unless there's a surge or electric issue. The cable serves as an emergency path to neutralize the electricity instead of the power running through you.
It's easy to say that grounding wires are safe to touch unless an electric issue leads to the cable conducting electricity. But safety should always be a priority. Because the wire could become energized when connected to a live system, it's essential to take appropriate steps to disconnect it from any power source.
How Do You Test an Electric Wire?
You can test an exposed wire with a voltage tester to determine if a current is running through it. These devices are available in different accuracies and can be found in your local hardware store. To point out, cheap voltage testers will only tell you if there's power flowing through a wire. On the other hand, bigger-budget gadgets show whether there's an electric current and determine the voltage in the exposed wiring.
The Bottom Line
In short, exposed wires are sometimes unavoidable around your house. They should be treated with caution, and it's advisable to contact a licensed electrician to correct the problem.
The electricians at Mr. Electric have the training in how to fix exposed wire and the experience to offer testing services that ensure your home's electrical wiring is safe and up to date. Give us a call today!