VIR (Vulcanised Indian Rubber) cables are made of a tinned conductor with a rubber coating. The tinning of the conductor prevents the sticking of rubber to the conductor. The thickness of the rubber depends on the operating voltage and cotton is placed over the rubber insultations to protect the conductor against any moisture. The wire is finished with wax for cleanliness. It is called ‘vulcanised’ because the rubber is mixed with sulphur and heated through to harden the rubber. The rubber is waterproof, corrosion-resistant and abrasion-resistant.
VIR cabling was widely used in Australia between the 1910s-1950s and so many houses and office buildings that were built before the 1960s will most likely have VIR cabling. Due to the now-known risks of VIR cabling, it is no longer accepted in new construction projects.
Over time, VIR cabling can break down, becoming hazardous as live electrical wires become exposed which can lead to an increased risk of electric shocks, electrocution and electrical fires which can be incredibly serious or even fatal. Live conductors can be exposed in the roof cavities and walls.
Aged VIR cabling can result in an inconsistent power flow which can wreak havoc on your electrical appliances. VIR cabling is also known to lack an earth wire which prevents live wires from overloading and protects electrical appliances from any damage.
Some signs that your VIR cabling is playing up include:
If you notice any of these signs, or if you’re unsure about the state of your VIR cabling, turn off your main circuit breaker and contact an experienced electrician as soon as possible.
The first and most important thing to do is to figure out whether your home or office has VIR cabling. This is more likely if your home/office building was constructed before the 1960s. Contacting a licensed electrician to assess your property is the smartest thing to do – but whatever you do, do not carry out your own inspection.
If VIR cabling has been found in your home or office, it should be eliminated and replaced with modern electrical wiring that comes with a circuit breaker protection. Your electrical power points may also need to be replaced as well, depending on when they were first installed.
Safety standards in Australia have naturally evolved over the years and what was once acceptable, may no longer be safe, and this includes VIR cabling. After VIR cabling came Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which has a thicker type of insulation and can handle higher temperatures. However, PVC also has its faults, namely that it could only handle small amounts of power levels and voltages.
After PVC came Polyethylene Insulation which can be found in PVC-insulated wires under the name of XLPE. It has the ability to withstand higher voltages and became more popular during the 20th century.
At Russo Electrical, we have over 25 years of electrician work experience in Sydney. We pride ourselves on consistently delivering honest and trustworthy advice. If you have an electrical problem or any enquiries, please contact us at 0478 740 546 to find out more, or visit our website at: https://www.russoelectrical.com.au/