4 Electrical Upgrades Your Home Needs
Wine and wisdom improve with age. Electrical systems, on the other hand, do not. Your older home likely has plenty of charm. Still, its value significantly depreciates if its electrical system is outdated. This article provides helpful information on electrical system upgrades for your home, like when and why you should upgrade your electrical system and some of the best upgrades to make.
Signs Your Home Needs Electrical Upgrades
In many ways, older homes were built for another time. The electrical systems of older homes had different electrical output needs, safety standards and materials. These electrical systems may have done an adequate job in the past. However, newer technologies and developments have made many aspects of those systems obsolete.
Here are some signs your older home needs electrical upgrades:
1. Old Wires
Old wires are often cased in metal or fabric. This can cause problems if the insulation in walls is aged or damaged or metal electric cords are inadequately grounded. If wires get exposed next to old or damaged insulation or on inadequate grounding, the risks of a fire hazard increase.
Some signs that old wires are causing problems include:
- Scorch marks on switches or outlets
- Torn, damaged or missing insulation
- Exposed wires that could potentially cause a fire
- Dimming or flickering lights
- Tingling sensations when you touch an appliance
2. Aluminum Wiring
Many older homes contain aluminum wiring, which differs from the standard copper wires used in homes today. Aluminum connections loosen easier than copper wiring — looser connections can lead to overheating and potential fires at outlets when appliances are plugged in.
If your home contains aluminum wiring, the wiring casing is likely labeled as “AL” or “aluminum.” Another sign of aluminum wiring is outlets, receptacles, face plates or switches that are hot to the touch.
3. Old Fuse Boxes
For several reasons, we use more electricity in our homes now than we did in the past. Many older homes contain fuse boxes with only two to four fuses powering 30-60 amp service. Today, large houses may have circuit boxes that exceed 200 amps of service, with circuit breakers replacing the work of fuses.
If your fuse box powers below 100 amps, you should get it replaced so you can power all your electronics and appliances without worrying about tripping the breaker. A couple of signs of an old fuse box are high electrical bills or constantly tripping breakers.
4. Faulty Panels
Many Zinsco and FPE electrical panels have faulty designs that could cause problems. These panels are common in older homes.
Some Zinsco panels contain faulty circuit breakers that may melt into the primary busbar, creating fire risks. Similarly, some FPE electrical panels may not trip the circuit breaker for overloaded or short circuits, also increasing fire risks because the circuit has no way of shutting itself off in such instances.
If your home is installed with either of these electrical panels, it’s a good idea to have them inspected by a certified electrician and possibly replaced.
Reasons to Upgrade Your Home Electrical System
Currently, you may be on the fence about upgrading your electrical system, wondering if it’s worth the work and cost. Explore a few reasons to upgrade your electrical system if you live in an older home:
1. Meet Code Regulations
Electrical code regulations for homes are regularly updated, so if you have an older home that hasn’t been updated or inspected recently, there’s a good chance it doesn’t meet code regulations. It’s especially important for your home to meet code regulations if you plan to put your home up for sale.
2. Increase Home Safety
Electrical code regulations aren’t only crucial for selling your home — they also ensure a high degree of safety and protection against fire in your home. Upgrading your home electrical system to meet modern standards is essential to keeping you and your family safe. Faulty or outdated electrical work is a significant cause of residential fires, so updating old electrical wires is important to prevent fires in your home.
3. Meet the Power Needs of Modern Appliances
Most of today’s appliances have increased energy demands. Upgrading your home electrical system to meet the power needs of your modern appliances will help avoid constantly blowing fuses or tripping breakers. As a result, you’ll be able to use your appliances more efficiently without overloading them.
4. Boost Resale Value
Many older homes have considerable charm, which can be reflected in their resale value. However, that charm can only go so far if that older home has an outdated electrical system
By upgrading your electrical system, you can make the most of your home’s appeal by complementing it with modern technology and capabilities. Various electrical upgrades can increase home value, such as replacing old wires, increasing the amperage of your circuit breaker, adding extra outlets or installing various safety features.
The Best Electrical Upgrades You Can Make
Ready to bring your older home into the 21st century? Here are some of the best electrical updates to increase home value and safety:
1. Electrical Panel Upgrade
Conducting an electrical panel replacement is a great place to start if you want to upgrade your home’s electrical system. Not every electrical panel in an older home requires replacement. Still, if your panel produces low amperage or contains fuses instead of circuit breakers, it’s a good idea to consider having it replaced. While fuses are generally safe, circuit breakers are safer, more affordable and easier to reset.
Additionally, you could add more circuit breakers to your electrical panel to increase amperage, as the more circuit breakers you have, the more appliances you can use without tripping the circuit breakers. The standard 60-amperage panels of older homes have enough juice to power one large appliance at a time — insufficient for modern homes and appliances, especially if you have a central air conditioning system.
So, updating your electrical panel could be necessary if your home runs on a low-amperage circuit or fuse box.
With rewiring, the project may involve the entire house or a localized region of your home. Either way, rewiring is a fairly significant project, as it involves making holes in the wall to access the old wires and replace them.
Still, updating old or faulty wiring is one of the best ways to upgrade your electrical system for the safety of your home, and certified electricians are certainly up for the challenge.
3. Additional Outlets
Things like power strips and extension cords are convenient when you run out of outlets to use for a gaming system, home theater or kitchen appliances. However, when you resort to power strips to power all your appliances, it’s a sign you’re using more electricity than your home is designed to give. The safer solution is to install additional power outlets where you need them.
4. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
GFCIs are essential anywhere in your home where there’s an increased risk of ground faults, such as in your kitchen or bathroom. Ground faults commonly occur when electricity and water meet. For this reason, most bathrooms are now fitted with a GFCI.
The GFCI immediately cuts the power if electricity comes into contact with water and a ground fault occurs. If your bathroom or kitchen lacks a GFCI, installing one is a great way to keep you, your home and your electrical system safe.
Schedule Your Electrical Safety Inspection
If you’re unsure whether your home needs an electrical system upgrade, an electrical safety inspection can clarify your situation. The certified electricians at Point Loma Electric and Plumbing have served the residents of San Diego, California, and the surrounding area for over 30 years, providing high-quality safety inspections of numerous older homes. Contact us to schedule an electrical safety inspection with us today!« 3 Big Plumbing Mistakes to Steer Clear of This Year