“Is it time to have my electrical system upgraded? Do I have to get my entire service panel replaced?”
Maybe you’ve been thinking about the questions above for a while now, and you happened to come across this article trying to figure out the answers to them.
To help, we will cover in this article:
• signs telling you that your electrical system does need an update;
• reasons why you should consider getting an upgrade;
• and types of upgrades to have for your home.
Signs that Your Home Needs an Electrical Upgrade
Electricity is an essential part of our lives. We are so dependent on it that we may even find it hard to accomplish our daily tasks without the use of even a single gadget or appliance powered by electricity. But as necessary as it is in our lives, we often take electricity for granted — until we encounter a problem with it.
More often than not, homeowners do not prioritize addressing electrical issues in their houses until the problem becomes more serious or worse, cause a major incident such as an electrical fire.
Did you know? According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 6.3% of residential fires from 2014 to 2016 were electrical fires with around 24,000 incidents being reported each year. One of the most common causes of these fires was (you guessed it) outdated wiring.
Is your home a couple of decades-old already? It is highly probable that it is not built to deliver the electrical demand of new devices like huge appliances, computers, and smart home components. In addition, outdated wiring could mean that your electrical system might not meet the current electrical code and safety standards.
If you are experiencing even one of the issues below, we highly recommend that you call a licensed electrician to have your system inspected.
(Where do I find electricians near me? Click here)
Circuit breakers trip regularly
When your circuit breaker trips it means that it is doing its job of protecting the circuit in an event of an electrical fault (e.g. power surge, circuit overload, short circuit, etc.). Although you can simply reset the breaker to restore power, a circuit breaker that keeps tripping can be a sign that you are demanding too much power from the circuit. Another reason is that your house could have too few circuits, which calls for an upgrade.
Also, do note that if your home still uses a fuse box instead of a circuit breaker, you may want to consider having this replaced into a circuit breaker box. Fuse boxes are old technology and are not designed to supply the electric demands of a modern household. And while fuse boxes are not exactly unsafe, old electrical systems, however, are a huge safety risk if they are not properly maintained. In addition, homeowners may find it difficult to claim insurance for their properties using a fuse box in case of an incident.
Light switches are hot to touch
It’s never normal for light switches or electrical outlets to feel warm when touched. This is an indication that you have a serious problem at hand. Some reasons why switches are hot to touch is because they are overloaded, they are worn out, or there is loose or faulty wiring.
Strange burning smell near outlets
Weird smells around outlets (or even electrical panels) should be a cause of concern. There are several reasons why you can smell burning plastic around your outlets, like a circuit overload, damaged or exposed wiring that could be a result of wear and tear. Whatever the cause may be, make sure to schedule a visit from a local electrician as soon as possible.
Lack of outlets
Are you already bothered by the network of extension cords that are laid out throughout your home? Well, you should be. First off, extension cords are not meant to be used as a permanent solution. Running multiple appliances from the power strip that is plugged in a single outlet could cause an overload. In addition, running cords around the house (under rugs or furniture) could cause an accident and is a fire hazard.
Signs of corrosion and rust around the electrical panel
It is definitely a serious concern if there are clear signs of damage to your circuit breaker box. A panel that has rust could mean water damage and should be inspected properly by a trained electrician before the problem becomes even more serious.
Reasons to Get An Electrical System Upgrade
If you are living in an old house and are not experiencing the issues mentioned above, there are still important reasons why you should consider an upgrade.
Ensure your family’s safety
One of the biggest reasons why you should consider an electrical upgrade for your old home is to keep you and your loved ones safe. As mentioned earlier, faulty and outdated wiring is one of the major causes of residential fires. The older your home is, the more it is at risk of experiencing these disastrous events.
Note that electrical panels have a lifespan of anywhere between 20 to 30 years. If your system is two decades old already, consider getting an electrical inspection done by a professional electrician to ensure it’s still in good condition for the next couple of years.
Older homes, like those built in the ‘60s, are built to carry 30 to 60 amps for the electrical needs of a whole household. You can just imagine the huge difference between the appliances and devices that people used then to what we use now. It’s a no-brainer to conclude that houses today require a much larger demand for electricity. In fact, most in the 21st century have an electrical service from 100 to 200 amps.
(Note: Amps/amperage is the unit of measurement to measure the volume of electricity flowing through wires)
If you live in an old home, your electrical system may not be able to provide the amperage that modern appliances and devices require. Not having enough power is inconvenient and can also cause damage to your electrical equipment. Having your system upgraded ensures that it can safely support operating multiple devices and electronics in your home.
Prevent electrical fire
Homes that were built from the mid-’60s to early ‘70s used aluminum electrical wiring. Aluminum wires are now outdated and are even considered “hazardous” as homes with this type of wiring are found to be 55 times more likely to encounter electric fires than houses that are wired with copper.
Other “symptoms” of old electrical systems like frayed wirings, damaged panel boxes, or flickering/dimming lights are all recipes of a disaster. These issues should be addressed immediately to prevent fires and other accidents such as electrocution.
Protection from power surge
An average home can experience frequent power surges, where the majority are not even noticeable. However, these surges can potentially damage electrical components and electrical devices in your home if you don’t have surge protectors installed.
Most old homes do not have surge protectors that modern houses have. By getting your system upgraded, you can prevent the damages that a sudden increase in voltage can cause.
Keep up to date with electrical codes
Especially if you’re planning to put your property out on the market soon, you want to make sure that your home meets the current electrical codes. Bear in mind that these standards may be updated every year so if it has already been quite a while since your system was last checked, then an inspection and upgrade may be necessary.
Electrical Upgrades for Your Old Home
Here are some of our top suggestions on what updates in your electrical system you should get for your home:
1. New wiring
Very old homes (we’re talking late 1880s to 1940s) use knobs and wirings as electrical wiring. It may surprise you that some homes in the U.S. still use this type, which is a huge danger risk for residents.
Although your home may not be using this type of old wiring anymore, we suggest that you have your wiring examined if you live in a home that’s over 20 years. An electrician will recommend rewiring if there are safety issues or evident faulty/frayed wiring.
2. New electrical panel
Signs of rust and age in your electric panel definitely call for a replacement. Also, if your home only services lower amperage than modern homes, it would be necessary to add more circuits to the panel to provide more power to your house. Doing this will allow you to use several appliances and electronics at the same time without the risk of tripping a breaker.
3. Install new outlets
If you are too many extension cords around the house, it is a good idea to have new additional outlets installed to prevent overloading an outlet. Have an electrician put in sockets where you need them, and also consider having USB outlets installed to convenient charge devices.
Getting new outlets is also recommended if your current ones only have two prongs instead of three. Not only are these a hassle, since new appliances have a third prong, but two-prong outlets mean they don’t have a ground wire that prevents electrical accidents.
(Read this article to understand why electrical grounding is important.)
4. Switch to LED lighting
Another upgrade that you should consider is switching to LED lights if you haven’t done so. LED lights are energy-efficient and could save you a considerable amount on your electric bill.
5. Home automation system
Since you’re already planning to get an electrical upgrade, why not consider adding a home automation system. An experienced electrician will make some changes in your current wiring so you can install and operate smart home devices, like smart thermostats, smart lighting, smart locks, and more.
Are you ready to have an electrical upgrade? Same Day Pros can help you locate licensed electricians working near you – click here!