When it comes to home maintenance, there seems to be a never-ending list of tasks. And often, necessary maintenance tasks that go unseen ultimately get neglected. For example, the electrical wiring within your walls — how often do you think about it, let alone consider updating it? If you own an older home, that’s something you should seriously give more thought to.

At Harrison Electric, as licensed electricians, we understand how critical it is that your home’s electrical system is up to date, code compliant, and fully functional. If you own an older home, chances are your system doesn’t meet at least one of those conditions. Below, our electricians explain a few potential dangers associated with using an outdated electrical system.

Household Fires

Every year in the United States, thousands of homeowners suffer the devastating consequences of using antiquated or improperly installed electrical equipment. Whether you’ve got outdated receptacles, you’re missing GFCIs in the appropriate places, or you’re operating on aluminum wiring, you may be putting your home at risk for a fire.

While the National Electrical Code is updated every three years, you don’t have to update your electrical equipment that often. If your home is relatively new, generally less than 30 years old, chances are most of your equipment is safe for use. However, you may be missing GFCI outlets, which are necessary to protect against electrical overload and shock.

If, on the other hand, you own a home that’s older than 30 years, there’s a definite chance you’re operating on a significantly outdated electrical system. For your own safety, call a residential electrician for a comprehensive electrical inspection and keep an eye out for these red flags:

  • Flickering lights
  • Discolored, charred, or sparking outlets
  • Repeated tripped breakers or blown fuses
  • Damaged wiring or receptacles
  • Deteriorated in-wall insulation

Damage to Your Electronics

Another threat outdated systems pose is potential damage to electronic devices and appliances that you have in your home. Power surges can happen, and most likely, it's due to outdated electrical hardware.

The surges that come can affect any electronic item plugged into an outlet. This can not only create data loss and security breaches, but if the item is damaged severely enough, it can cost more to replace the item than to fix the original issue.

Frequent Circuit Breaker Interruptions

Outdated electrical wiring can also cause interruptions through the circuit breaker being tripped more frequently. This is a risk and an inconvenience, especially if you depend on electricity for daily tasks. The trip can happen if the circuit is overloaded, which can result from too much demand on the system.

Short circuits also cause a trip in the wiring, which can impede the flow of electricity. Ground faults are a common issue if a hot wire comes in contact with a grounded one or the metal of the wiring box. And an arc fault occurs because there may be loose connections in the terminal in an outlet or switch.

All of these problems are from materials and hardware that are outdated and have not been maintained, which is why it is essential to update the system.

Electrical Items Not Working to Full Capacity

The devices we use every day, including cell phones and microwaves, all require a specific amount of power from the source to work correctly. If you are dealing with outdated wiring, and the system is not up to code for the needs of the appliances and electronics, it causes a greater demand than it can produce and overload the system. This can end up resulting in a reduction of performance or not being able to use them at all.

Electrical Shock

Older electrical systems aren’t designed to meet today’s consumer power demands. Houses constructed many decades ago contain wiring that can only handle a limited electrical load. This is because the consumers of decades past didn’t rely so heavily on electrically powered devices and appliances.

If your house contains outdated wiring, it can rapidly experience electrical overload, which can lead to tripped breakers and blown fuses. Worse, if your house is also lacking GFCI and AFCI outlets in the appropriate locations, you run the risk of electrical shock since these outlets are designed to protect you from that very occurrence.

Not sure whether your electrical system is outdated? Take a minute to check for outlets that feature 3-prong receptacles and those that feature reset and test buttons. If you don’t find any of those outlets around your house, you’re operating on an outdated system.

What about your wiring? Unless you’re well-versed in electrical work, chances are you won’t recognize outdated wiring at a glance. To determine whether you need a wiring update, you’ll need to schedule an inspection with a licensed electrician.

Dealing With Old Wiring in Your House? Contact Harrison Electric

If you believe your household electrical system is outdated, for your own safety, don’t hesitate to schedule an electrical inspection with our team at Harrison Electric. It’s our goal to keep Twin Cities homeowners safe and code compliant, and all of our electricians are fully licensed, certified, insured, and bonded.

To request service, schedule a quote, or learn more about how we can help, call our Minneapolis office at 763-544-3300 or contact us online.