Nothing has the charm of an older home on a family farm or a cute cottage in a historic district. But cosmetic and structural upgrade needs are often packaged with the cozy charm. Upgrades to your home may include a fresh coat of paint or installing new fixtures, but have you considered the unseen needs, such as wiring behind a switch plate or outlet? Do you know the hidden dangers of aged wiring? Here are a few clues to find out if your home’s electric network needs a professional switch.
Type of Wiring
Modern wire used in homes is either copper (for conductivity) or aluminum (for cost effectiveness) and covered in a plastic or rubber insulation. Older homes, usually built before the 1940s, may use an outdated wiring method known as “knob-and-tube,” a two-wire system with no ground. Over time, corrosion can cause insulation to wear away, exposing wires to combustible materials and leading to loose connections, increasing fire risk in a home. This can be a concern in older homes regardless of wiring method. If your home has aluminum wiring, use only aluminum approved switches, outlets and other accessories.
Plugs Falling Out of Outlets Easily
Over time, the contacts in a plug can begin to fail. When contacts loosen, they aren’t able to securely grip your plug. That missed connection can cause electrical arcing, a major risk for house fires. The good news is it’s an easy fix. Consult an electrician for directions.
Not Enough Outlets
The increasing use of chargers for electronic devices, including phones, tablets and gaming devices, means outlets are in high demand. A lack of outlets can result in the overuse of power strips, which could overload an outlet. Overloading can cause heat, leading to fire risk.
Danger in Wet Areas
GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets are now required in areas around water, like near a kitchen or bathroom sink or outdoors. However, older homes may not have been upgraded to these types of outlets. It is fairly simple to replace old receptacles with GFCIs.
If your home needs upgrades and repairs to its wiring, consider hiring a licensed electrician. An electric professional can safely make wiring updates needed in your home or tell you what inspections and permits are needed to make necessary repairs.