Older homes can offer a great deal of nostalgia and old-world charm, especially when craftsman details like molding and natural hardwoods are present throughout the property. Unfortunately, some old construction methods can actually be dangerous, such as outdated electrical wiring. Learn three signs that your older home’s electrical wiring needs to be updated.
1. GCFI Outlets Everywhere
Modern electrical systems are designed with several built-in fail-safes, such as breakers and ground wires. The purpose of ground wiring is to give electrical impulses a path in case the circuit becomes overloaded, such as during a lightning storm or after a power outage when the system clicks back on.
Unfortunately, grounding hasn’t always been used, and homes installed with knob-and-tube wiring may not contain grounded circuits at all. The result is outlets that can dispense a great deal of power without shutting down automatically, putting people at a higher risk for electrical shocks.
Although homes without grounded circuits need to be updated to the modern standard for safety reasons, a common workaround is installing GCFI outlets throughout the home instead of replacing the wiring. Since GCFI outlets can detect surges and shut down power at the outlet, they provide some level of protection. Unfortunately, GCFI outlets can fail, leaving the outlet incredibly dangerous.
As you evaluate your home, pay attention to where GCFI outlets are. While it is normal for GCFI outlets to be installed in heavy-water areas like garages, bathrooms, and kitchens, it should send up a red flag if every outlet in your home has GCFI labels and controls.
2. Strange-Looking Electrical Lines
Most people today are used to coming across long lines of white, yellow, or gray electrical cables lining the walls and ceilings of crawl spaces, attics, and unfinished basements. Unfortunately, the nylon- and PVC-lined cables of today are a far cry from the versions that may be installed in your historic home.
Older versions of electrical wiring may be covered in metal sheaths, cloth, or even asbestos. Knob-and-tube wiring contains thick tubes of electrical work joined with ceramic knobs, and copper-clad aluminum wiring may look incredibly thick.
Unfortunately, these outdated electrical systems present hazards because many contain unintentional fuel sources that can perpetuate house fires. For instance, if a cloth-wrapped electrical cable develops a short, the arc fault can light the cloth wrapping ablaze, making it more likely to start your entire home on fire.
Be on the lookout for strange-looking electrical lines. Keep in mind that since the home may have been worked on previously, you may spot new wiring tied in with old wiring. Always have your home carefully inspected by a professional electrician to spot and resolve hazards.
3. Breaker Overloads
When homes are built, contractors carefully plan for the amount of power the home will require and then wire the entire structure according to that initial plan. However, over time, homes can be added onto, remodeled, or filled with energy-using devices like new televisions and kitchen appliances. When the existing electrical system isn’t enough to power new devices, the circuit breaker can trip, leaving you without power temporarily.
If you frequently struggle with tripped breakers or if your lights flicker as you use devices in your home, you may need to have your entire electrical panel updated. Depending on the amount of electrical service running to your home, electricians can add additional circuits or upgrade your entire panel, making it easier for your home to function without losing power.
Although living in an older home without a modern electrical system can seem intimidating, we can help to bring any home up to electrical code. Here at Oak Electric, our team is committed to offering the best wiring, lighting, and electrical repair services available. With a focus on safety and a deep understanding of electrical systems, our licensed, certified employees can help you to make your home a safer place. Call us today to learn more.