The 4 Most Common Electrical Issues In Older Homes

Construction & Contractors Articles

Older homes were built to very different standards than the modern homes being built today. As we become increasingly dependent on electrical devices and appliances, older homes struggle to carry the electrical load we now demand. Addressing electrical issues in your old home may not be something you want to put much thought into, but it's something you should consider—not only because it'll save you the inconvenience of having to deal with sudden power outages, but also because it can save you and your loved ones from being seriously injured from electrical shocks, or even death. There are a number of electrical problems present in older homes that you should address with the help of an electrician or electrical contractor as soon as possible.

Not Enough Outlets

Older homes generally don't have enough outlets needed in this day and age. As we become more dependent on electronics in our everyday life, chances are you've found yourself struggling to find a free power outlet in your home. If you're using powerstrips that often "octopus" as a result of connecting too many plugs or find you have too few outlets because of your home's age, it would be wise to bring in an electrician and install more outlets. Overloading powerstrips or outlets can be a fire hazard.

Wiring Made of Aluminum

If your home was built between the '50's-'70's, there's a good chance it may have aluminum wiring. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated that aluminum wiring is up to 55 times more likely to reach conditions that constitute a fire hazard compared to homes with copper wiring.

Aluminum wiring has a tendency to oxidize, which increases the wire's resistance and causes wiring to overheat, and is also more prone to nicks. Aluminum wiring can also change shape due to its high thermal expansion, which can cause terminal screws to loosen or fall off over time. These loose terminations can result in melting or fire.

You can tell if you have aluminum wiring because it'll be stamped with "AL" or "ALUMINUM" on the plastic covering or cable. If your outlets and switch cover plates are warm or warped, or if there's smoke, sparks, or strange odors coming from receptacles or switches, you might have aluminum wiring in your home and an electrician should be called to have it replaced.

Improper Electrical Grounding

For your home to be properly grounded, there must be some physical connection between your home's electrical components and the ground. At this point, the circuit is at zero voltage. Some older homes are not electrically grounded at all, so you should have your home inspected by an electrician.

As electronic use becomes more frequent in your home with the use of appliances, and computers, among other devices, proper electrical grounding has become essential to keeping your home safe from electrical fires or deadly shocks.

Properly grounded homes will direct excess energy to the ground connection and into the ground. If you're using ungrounded devices, you risk being shocked when excess electricity is dispelled, since electrical currents move along the path of least resistance. Becoming the ground connection in an improperly grounded home can lead to serious injury or death.

Issues With the Fuse Box 

If you're blowing fuses often, unplug all appliances on the overloaded circuit before going to your fuse box.

Remove any jewelry you're wearing and make sure you're wearing rubber-soled shoes along with gloves before toggling the On/Off switch. To figure out which fuse blew, look in the glass top to see if it's cloudy or if there's a broken metal line. Unscrew the broken fuses and replace them with a new one of the same amperage, screwed in tightly. After replacing the blown fuses, you should be able to turn the main power back on. If not, you should call a professional for help.

Chances are, if you have a fuse box: you'll also have old wiring which doesn't meet modern standards. Old fuse boards probably won't contain RCD or MCB protection. This can create an unsafe situation in your home, so you should consider having your old fuse box updated. New fuses are faster and can switch off electrical circuits before you're get shocked. If you choose to keep your fuse box, keep extra fuses of the proper amperage on hand for the next time a fuse blows. For more information, see a website such as http://aaaeinc.com/.

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28 July 2015

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