I have found that chewed cables tend to be the ones that were not properly strapped along solid supports. It’s widely reported that rodent’s teeth never stop growing, and therefore require constant grinding to keep them from growing long enough to ‘hamper the hamster’. But why do they chew wires that could kill them?
I recall a recently published article suggesting that rodents chew because evolution selected for ‘neurotic’ traits that helped ensure the rodents have no difficulty with the will to keep their teeth properly ground down to size. Perhaps for parallel reasons of natural selection for reproduction, many of us don’t have sex to make babies (necessarily): we obsess about it and we enjoy it. It seems likely that rodents don’t chew to grind their teeth. They may enjoy chewing, it may be a neurotic itch or symptom, and it may be both. Whatever may be in the rodent’s brain, the result is that their teeth stay short enough that they can function.
On any given length of chewed wires, the most heavily-chewed portions are always the ones hanging in mid air — right at mouth height for everyone’s favorite furry rodent. Picture a neurotic character, your rodent, pacing up and down the length of a dark, dusty attic on a cold, windy night. Which cable are they going to get involved with? The one they trip over, over and over again, or the one their distracted consciousness probably doesn’t even register, because it’s neatly strapped to the building’s structural members?
In new construction, the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that all cables be fastened snugly along solid supports where possible. In retrofit wiring, cables fished behind finished surfaces cannot be secured, so older homes will tend to have wiring that is more vulnerable to rodent chew.
That’s a good reason to keep an eye out for rodents and get rid of ones you do find, since someone went to trouble and expense to get good cable where it is, and you want to avoid having to do it again (not to mention the risk of welding a hole in a copper pipe or starting a fire — see also, AFCI).
Stop rodents: end chewed wires
No one wants to find a half-dead large rodent in a kill trap, but Philadelphians have an excellent alternative, in the live animal traps available free for borrowing (‘rental’) with $20 one-year membership, from West Philly Tool Library. You may still want to kill the rodent (it may come back if you set it free, and it will almost certainly bother someone if you set it free in an urban or suburban area, such as your local park), but with a live trap you can make the kill on your own terms rather than have to address a maimed rodent or rotting carcass in tight, dark spaces. For mice, the smaller tilt-to-shut live traps are a good bet — IF you are mindful about checking them daily and remember where you set them. Otherwise, the highly confined space inside may kill the mouse, and will result in a urine-soaked, tortured little fur-ball, if it doesn’t kill them.
While you’re watching for rodents, watch out for loose cable runs, especially in attics and utility spaces where installers may have let their standards for neatness and Code compliance slip. Consider hiring an electrician to properly secure cables, re-routing them where necessary, in order to minimize sections raised offset from the structure along which the cables run.
Note that loose cables are vulnerable to inattentive storage of heavy objects by humans, as well as chewing by rodents. If it’s an option for you as a new homeowner, try to have your wiring cleaned up before you store things against or on top of it (and in the way of workers). Human-pinched cables are a major statistical contributor among electrically-ignited house fires.
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- Annapolis Home Inspection, LLC Aluminum branch circuits, homes 1965-1972
- ComplianceAndSafety.com OSHA Electrical Safety Training
- Electric Monk TV (YouTube) Video channel for PhillyLicensedElectrician.com Robert Monk
- EnergyConservation HowTo A tinkerer genius discusses energy conservation and his ladder system for accessing the attic (where a lot of energy-saving work happens).
- PennFuture Energy Center Energy and energy efficiency news for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- Phila area rife with building efficiency upgrade opportunities Philadelphia Inquirer article discusses recent study showing Philadelphia’s inner-ring suburbs stand to save from energy conservation retrofits.
- Philadelphia Row-house Manual A design, maintenance, and modifications manual for our most widely-used form of housing.
- Robert Monk Robert Monk’s personal blog
- SolarCities (DOE) Solar PV Levelized Cost Interactive Comparator Simple graph compares ‘levelized cost’ of energy from solar PV to conventional grid rates, with a time-slider interactive feature.
- The Circuit Detective – Solve Home Electrical Problems Yourself! Electrical troubleshooting procedures pitched to homeowners.
- The Energy Co-op Blog from a leading alternative energy provider in PECO territory, includes fun conservation tips.
- Weatherization: the anti-Solyndra Salon.com article praising the continued success of the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), low-income energy-savings and job-creation.
- West Philly Tool Library Official site of WPTL, Philly’s own community tool lending library: like a book library, but tools!
- WestPhillyLocal .com Site name say sit all.
- Bartram's Gardens Founded in Philadelphia’s colonial era, today the gardens continue pioneering in horticulture and agriculture with a variety of herbs, trees and other vegetation in an arboretum/gardens on the Schulkill River banks, and a new farm abutting sadly neglected
- HiddenCity Philadelphia Surprising places it takes an adventurer to discover; events, too.
- Philly Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Schedule City of Philadelphia dates and places for disposing of spent batteries, CFL lamps, unused paint and cleaning products, etc. LovePhilly: don’t pour these in the drain or send them out with the trash.
- Reading Terminal Market Purveyors of fine foods and foodie stuff, all under one roof downtown under the PA Convention Center
- Secret Garden on the Rails Jacques-Jean Tiziou shows some dramatic natural and urban and naturalized-urban scenes along abandoned rails of Philadelphia
- Sketch Burger, Fishtown A vegan-friendly burger joint with a #1 in Philly contender beef burger, best fries that somehow stay fresh for 1/2 hour while you tackle burger, and a vegan cafe vibe of friendly folks.
- WXPN: Philly sings in key of love Love songs by Philly artists