Risks of Outdated Wiring

Home maintenance can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t know where to start. Roofs that need re-shingling, carpets that have seen better days, that occasional leak you still have yet to place… there’s usually always something that needs fixing. Problems that are visible are usually easy to track and stop before the problem gets worse, but what if there’s an issue inside your walls?Outdated wiring is an issue all homeowners will eventually face. Homes that are at least 30 years old are likely to have outdated wiring not designed to operate with the modern homeowner’s lifestyle. Older homes with 60 amps can’t handle powering multiple appliances at once, not when the typical homeowner needs a house with at least 100 amps. It’s important to note that old wiring isn’t just an issue of inconvenience, but safety.

Why You Should Be Concerned About Outdated Wiring

Older homes are typically wired with aluminum wiring, coated in a rubber coating that can deteriorate over time. Wire that’s exposed between insulation and your walls is a major fire hazard. If your house has outdated wiring, chances are you’ve taken a few trips to your circuit breaker. Old wiring can’t handle massive workloads which results in something called overloading, where the circuit breaker responds by doing its job and shutting everything down before there’s an electrical malfunction, or worse, a fire.

Fortunately, There Are Warning Signs

Outdated wiring may be an issue inside your walls, but there are a lot of warning signs that lead to old or faulty wiring. It’s important to understand that if your home does have old or faulty wiring, that you should contact a licensed electrician immediately. Don’t try to fix the wiring yourself, as this could either make the problem worse, or someone could get seriously hurt. Here’s what to look for.

  • Flickering lights. It’s not always a dying light bulb. If you’re experiencing your lights flickering frequently, this could mean circuit overload, or that a fixture has some faulty wiring. If your home is only running on 60 amps, this could also be a sign that the fixtures are underpowered and that the electrical panel needs upgrading.
  • Frequent tripped breakers or blown fuses. This happens to everyone every now and then, maybe you plugged in to many appliances at once and the lights go out- it happens. Functional circuit breakers can go through years without a single trip. If you have to flip your circuit breaker more than once in the same year, there’s a good chance it’s time to upgrade your circuit breaker.
  • Discolored or charred outlets. There’s this phenomenon called ‘acing’ when an electrical spark jumps in the air from one wire to another, a big cause of electrical fires. When this happens, your wires and outlets are the first victims. If you notice anything off with your outlets, contact an electrician immediately.
  • The scent of burnt vinyl or plastic. Nothing like the smell of burnt food, an electrical fire has a distinct smell to it. If you smell something burning, and you can’t trace where it’s coming from, then you need to contact an electrician immediately.
  • A lack of outlets. If you’re practically tripping over extension cords, chances are your home has outdated wiring.
  • Damaged Wires. This one sounds like a no-brainer, but perhaps you’re undergoing some other home improvement projects and you have some exposed wall and notice a few frayed wires. Damaged wires are a definite sign of old or faulty wiring.
  • If an outlet shocks you from plugging or unplugging. If this happens, contact an electrician immediately.
  • Damaged insulation. If you know your home has old insulation, there’s a good chance there might be some damaged insulation somewhere. Broken or cut insulation is a big hazard for your electrical wiring, since insulation is supposed to protect your wiring.

Still Not Sure? Then It’s Time for an Inspection

Safe is always better than sorry. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, it’s best to have your home inspected every 10-40 years. The National Fire Protection Association states that electrical problems are the largest cause of property damage in home fires across the US. A licensed electrician will know what to look for, as it could either be an issue with your circuit breaker or something much more hands on like outdated wiring and fixtures. Having an electrician inspect your home not only ensures you won’t have to worry about spontaneous electrical fires, the electrician also checks to see if things like your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working correctly.

It’s important to act as soon as possible if you think your home might be at risk of outdated wiring. Don’t wait until someone gets hurt – call Beacon Electrical Services today at (703) 343-9884!

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