If you're buying an older home, one of the things you want to have inspected first is the wiring. Old wiring may be worn out and dangerous. However, just because the wiring is old doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. Although it might be against modern codes, older wiring is usually grandfathered in, so you don't have to replace it unless you want to for your peace of mind. Here are some upgrades you may want to consider making.
Fixing Loose Receptacles
If you have an outlet or two that won't hold plugs tightly any more, you should have them replaced. The openings in the outlets can gradually wear down and become wider with use. When that happens, the lamp or television cord can hang down a little and leave a gap where the metal prongs show. This is actually a dangerous situation since the metal could spark and cause a fire. Changing the receptacles is a fairly easy DIY project, but if you fear working around electricity, leave the job for an electrician. While replacing a single receptacle doesn't cost much, the electrician may charge a minimum rate for coming to your home. Therefore, you may want to combine upgrading your outlets with other repairs you want done.
Adding GFCI Outlets
Homes built today are required to have GFCI outlets. These are safety outlets installed in places where water might be present, such as a bathroom, kitchen, basement, and garage. When the outlet detects stray current, it automatically shuts the power off before you can get a shock. Older homes did not use this technology, but you can have the outlets added by an electrician. He or she can convert the outlets already present, add new GFCI outlets, or add GFCI breakers on your circuit box.
Adding More Outlets
Older homes didn't use much electricity, so there were fewer outlets. Today, homes have multiple televisions, computers, game consoles, and appliances that need outlets. To accommodate all these modern devices, you'll need to use extension cords or power strips. This can pose a tripping hazard or a fire hazard if they are overloaded. To solve this problem, have an electrician install additional outlets in all the rooms of your home that need it. He or she may also need to upgrade your main panel to handle the amount of current your family will use on a regular basis.
Your older home may not have grounded outlets. This can be dangerous because there is no way to ground stray current. You could get shocked and your equipment could be damaged by plugging it into an ungrounded receptacle. Grounded plugs have three prongs. If your outlet only has two holes, it is not grounded. However, just because an outlet has three holes, it doesn't mean it's grounded. It's possible the previous owner simply changed the outlets so they would accept a three-pronged plug. Using an adapter that allows a three-pronged plug to fit into an outlet with two holes does nothing to protect you or your equipment from stray current. An electrician can test the outlets to see if they are grounded. If not, it is a good idea to replace them since so many types of appliances and equipment today require grounded receptacles to work safely.
It was hard to imagine decades ago how much electricity modern homes would use. If your home was built in an older era, it's probably not equipped to handle the load you'll put on its electrical system. Even though it may meet codes because of grandfathering, and even if the wiring and connections are still safe, you may want to upgrade for the sake of convenience. Otherwise, you may find yourself turning off the microwave when you run the dryer to keep from tripping a circuit. Contact a company like Sun Coast Electric & Networking Inc for more information.