It’s fairly common to blow a fuse, you have your phone charger, hair dryer, maybe a nightlight, all in the same outlet and then all of a sudden the lights go out. It happens. What shouldn’t happen is that same scenario multiple times in the same year. If you find yourself negotiating with an outlet just to use the microwave, then your appliances are trying to tell you something- your home may have outdated wiring. It’s a common problem with older homes, things simply age and need to be replaced to keep up-to-speed with modern home standards. The problem is, unlike a dent in your floor or a creaky door, outdated wiring is something homeowners can’t ignore. Older homes ranging anywhere between 30-60 years are usually guaranteed to have old, outdated wiring, which is not only unfit to keep up with a homeowner’s typical electrical workload, old electrical wiring can start fires.
Unsure Where to Start?
It’s crucial to understand how dangerous old wiring can be. In 2014, the US Fire Administration reported at least 23,900 residential fires attributed to an electrical wiring malfunction- that’s a scary number. When the problem can happen inside the walls of anyone’s home, it’s daunting to think how you, the homeowner, can even prevent it. So here are a few things to consider.
- How old is your house? If you don’t know exactly how old your house is, now is a good time to find out. Houses at least 30 years and up are most likely to have outdated wiring.
- Do you have a lack of outlets? Older homes weren’t designed to meet the electrical demands of modern electrical consumption. If you find yourself side-stepping over extension cords, there’s a possibility your home needs its wiring updated.
- Have you made any recent major house upgrades? Maybe you just installed some brand new major appliances; perhaps you just redid your entire kitchen. If you’ve been busy with some serious renovations, there’s a good chance you’ll need to add electrical wiring to the list.
- Speaking of outlets, what do they look like? Something more updated homes have is a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which works by shutting down an electric power circuit when it detects the current flowing on an unintended path, such as water or a finger. You’ll notice that if an outlet has a GFCI, the red and black button centered in the middle of the outlet, where you can manually turn on or shut down that individual outlet. An older house usually has ungrounded, (so unprotected) two prong outlets.
Are There Other Warning Signs?
Maybe you’re still unsure, you couldn’t find anything that could lead you to the actual date your house was built, or perhaps your house has undergone too many projects to count. It’s understandable. What’s fortunate is that it’s hard to miss the clues for old or faulty wiring. If you’re unsure whether your house is at risk and you want to take action, watch out for these signs.
- Flickering lights
- Buzzing or sizzling sounds
- Frequent circuit breaker trips
- Discolored or charred outlets
- Loose outlets
- Damaged insulation
- Any electrical shock from plugging or unplugging an appliance
- The smell of burnt vinyl or plastic
- Damaged wires
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late with Electrical Wiring
If you’ve experienced any of the warning signs listed above, it’s time to contact a licensed electrician immediately. The electrician knows what to look for, and will inspect your home for any indication of faulty wiring, circuits, and fixtures. By having an electrician inspect your home, he or she can report to you the following possibilities.
- Whether your home is at risk of an electrical fire
- Identifying any common electrical wiring mistakes done by prior contractors or previous homeowners
- Ways to save energy and cut down on bills
- If your home meets the insurance risk assessment inspection requirements.
- Identifying if your home either has old aluminum or knob and tube wiring, or an outdated circuit breaker.
What Happens Next?
It depends on the issue. If your home has an old circuit breaker, there’s a good chance you need to replace it. Replacing or fixing an old circuit breaker is usually the first step toward upgrading the electrical wiring in your home, but it’s not guaranteed to solve the entire problem. If your home has aluminum or knob and tube wiring, you’ll need an electrician come and replace it.
You, the homeowner, deserve a life without concern about your safety, struggling with ridiculously high utility bills, or dodging faulty outlets. Don’t hesitate when your electrical wiring is at risk and contact Wave Electric today!