Owning an older home usually means that it has old electrical wiring. And if your electrical wiring hasn't been upgraded, it's likely no longer up to par. Here are some signs to look for when deciding whether or not to upgrade your electrical system.
50 years ago, people owned fewer electrical appliances than the amount that you'll find in homes today. Between computers, televisions, and the abundance of gadgets with rechargeable batteries, one or two electrical outlets in each room is no longer sufficient for most households.
If you lack enough outlets for your needs, you'll find yourself using extension cords and power strips to get by. But extension cords and power strips might not be the safest, most economical option. Call a licensed technician to explore your options, if you're in this situation.
For a short period during the 60s and 70s, aluminum wiring reigned supreme in the homes throughout the U.S — mainly because it's less expensive than copper. At the time, however, electricians weren't aware that aluminum actually wasn't the best choice. Unfortunately, by the time the problems were discovered, aluminum and its issues had found its way into many homes.
Due to its chemical properties, aluminum can oxidize when it comes in contact with other metals behind your wall. The oxidation leads to increased resistance, which can cause the wire to heat up — eventually posing a fire risk.
Expansion and Contraction
As the outdoor temperature changes, aluminum wiring will expand and contract. Over time, this expansion and contraction can cause the electrical connections in your house to loosen, which is a fire hazard. If a qualified electrician deems the wiring to be a safety risk, you'll probably want to take their advice and have it replaced with copper. Luckily, outright replacement is not always necessary.
One potential solution is to purchase new receptacles that are rated for use with aluminum wiring. While they're more expensive than standard copper receptacles, replacing a few dozen outlets is still much more cost effective than replacing the wiring behind your walls.
Any other splices or connections in the house, especially those between aluminum and copper, will also need to be inspected — and likely redone — in order to bring your wiring up to code. Again, your electrician can help steer you in the right direction.
Frequently Tripped Circuit Breakers
If you find yourself taking frequent trips to your electrical panel to reset a breaker, you may be overloading your electrical wiring. Depending on the situation, the solution may be as simple as plugging your device into an outlet on a different circuit. An electrician may also recommend adding a new circuit for the part of your home that's being overloaded, or even upgrading the service going into your home.
Another reason your breaker might be tripping is a short circuit in your electrical wiring. Basically, the hot and neutral wires are somehow coming in contact with each other, which shorts the circuit and causes the breaker to trip.
A defective outlet box, bad splice, or deteriorated coating on the wiring are a few things known to cause electrical shorts. You'll probably want to enlist the services of an electrician to track down and repair any short circuits in your wiring.
Your Lights Dim and Flicker
Another common sign that your electrical system needs some work is the frequent dimming or flickering of lights in your home. There are a few things that can cause this to occur:
- An overloaded circuit
- Corroded wiring
- Issues with your local power grid
- Outdated/insufficient home wiring
If flickering or dimming lights is a frequent problem in your house, you should call an electrician to assess the situation.
The electrical demands of today are much different than in the past. Whether you need to wire an entire home or fix problems in a single room, contact Supreme Electric.