There are several instances when a homeowner might have to deal with frayed wire, but one of the most common occurs when an animal (often a mouse) decides to chew though the cord on a lamp or appliance in storage. Though not the leading cause of residential fires (according to the National Fire Prevention Agency, the leading causes of fire deaths in the U.S. are smoking materials like cigars and cigarettes), it is important to make sure that frayed wires and cords are properly repaired or replaced.
1.Replace Frayed Wire
While not generally the most cost-effective solution, the decision to replace rather than fix frayed wire is the soundest of all remedies.
While not generally the most cost-effective solution, the decision to replace rather than fix frayed wire is the soundest of all remedies. Whether the compromised wire is coming out of a lamp or it is behind the sheetrock of your interior walls, many "fixes" do not leave the situation with the lasting integrity of a complete replacement. Wire nuts and electrical tape can do the trick in some cases, and depending on the situation that may be all you need; however, total wire or cord replacement is sometimes the only route to an effective, long-term solution.
2.Using Electrical Tape
Electrical tape can be extremely useful and, when dealing with chords where the inner metal is not exposed or severed, it can present a safe and effective solution. However, not all electrical tape is of the same quality. Additionally, the adhesive on electrical tape can fail over time and the tape itself can become brittle. When used properly by a licensed electrician in the right applications, electrical tape can be a permanent fix in some cases; it is not, however, meant to be used as a patch-all for every severed wire or cord.
Twist on connectors (often referred to as wire nuts) are a viable solution for some electrical applications. However, before using a wire nut to rejoin severed and/or frayed wires or chords several things must happen. First, you need to make sure that the nut is of the appropriate size for the fix. Next, the frayed portion of the wire should be removed, allowing only newly-exposed, freshly-stripped wire to be used in the connection. Like electrical tape, a certified electrician will understand when the use of a wire nut is all the fix a problem requires and when a replacement or alternate method of repair is needed.
4.Electrical Safety and Code
One of the things that homeowners should always keep in mind when considering any sort of electrical work is the local codes governing what installations, repairs, and components are allowed. Code can vary dramatically from one location to the next, which is one of the reasons why hiring an experienced contractor is so important. Though the existing wiring in a home may be grandfathered in, often any new work done must conform to modern regulations; this means that fixing existing electrical wiring and components may not be as simple as just replacing a component with one that is identical.
Code might be seen by some as a hassle that is okay to skirt around, but the fact is: These regulations are in place for the safety of those living in the house as well as those in neighboring homes. The updates, techniques, and electrical components required by code have been shown to reduce electrical fires and should always be adhered to.
5.The Benefits of Professional Inspections
An isolated fray in a lamp chord can have many causes, but gnawed wiring in walls, attics, basements, and other behind-the-scenes locations is a bad sign that shouldn't be ignored. Owners of older homes can get peace of mind and identify potential problems before they cause real damage by getting a professional home inspection performed by a certified electrician (those with older homes may want to make sure that the inspector they choose is familiar with NFPA 73, which deals with electrical wiring and components in existing homes). Additionally, an inspection by a professional pest control specialist may be a critical part of ensuring that any new wiring doesn't end up being compromised by pests.