Buying an older home has its benefits: resales are often cheaper than newer constructions, and many old houses, especially those over 40 years old, have a lot of charm. However, these homes can also come with major repairs, renovations, and upgrades in order to be inhabitable and safe, and a big part of those upgrades has to do with your home electrical wiring.
If you own an older home, and you suspect that there is a problem with the electricity, be sure to call a certified electrician as soon as possible. For any owners of older homes, pay attention to these warning signs to know whether your home electrical wiring needs upgrades, repairs, or replacements:
1. No GFCI outlets or switches in your kitchen or bathroom: GFCI (which stands for “ground fault circuit interrupter”) outlets and switches are the ones with the test and reset functions. While it’s not a code violation to not have them, these types of fixtures are designed to shut down the circuit within 4 milliseconds when they come into contact with water to avoid an electrical shock. Not having GFCIs in a bathroom or kitchen can pose a deadly risk in the event that water gets into the outlet, and that can be highly likely in the wet environment of a kitchen or bathroom.
2. Electrical meter problems: In older homes especially, it is important to have your electrical meter tested. Some common problems include not giving the correct readout and shooting sparks if there is bad wiring. Problems with an electrical meter should be corrected as soon as possible; having faulty readings can end up costing you when the electric bill arrives each month!
3. Anything out of the ordinary coming from your outlets and switches: This can include a burning smell or the appearance of charring and discoloration around an outlet. You may also see sparks or receive an electrical shock any time you touch the switch or plug something in. All of these problems with your home electrical wiring indicate a serious chance for a house fire.
4. Old home electrical wiring: There are a variety of issues that can arise when a home has old wiring. Aluminum wiring, used as a cheaper alternative to copper in the 1960s and 1970s, is now considered extremely dangerous and has been found to be responsible for many home fires. While some complete residential rewires are required when aluminum wiring is found, sometimes the problem can be fixed with a copper add-on to prevent corrosion, which is the main danger with aluminum wiring.
Other older wiring problems can include frequent short circuits, low-hanging wires, and the prevalence of ungrounded (two-pronged) receptacles instead of grounded circuits and receptacles. If you have any of these problems, find an electrician to correct them for you.
Don’t put yourself and your family at risk for injury, home fires, and more! If you notice any of these issues with your home’s electricity, call a licensed electrician as soon as possible. Read more about this topic at this link.