Electrician Near Me: Common Electrical Issues in Old Homes
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Posted January 17, 2020
Did you know that America is the third-largest consumer of energy in the world? Not only that, but the demand for electricity doubles every two decades. Here’s the deal: older homes present a unique set of challenges when it comes to electrical problems. If you’ve Googled “electrician near me” recently, then you’ll want to read up on these common electrical issues found in old homes!
When Should I Call an Electrician?
Curious about when you should call an electrician? You’re not alone. When it comes to older homes, you need to contact a professional if you experience any of the following issues:
- Unprotected junction boxes
Not sure what overlamping is? Let us explain. In a nutshell, overlamping happens when light bulbs in older homes have much higher wattages than their fixtures can handles. And it’s not just the vintage power grid that’s responsible for this problem either.
As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon for older homes to be filled with antique wiring as well. How does this apply to you? It’s simple – your home will constantly be straining the provide the amount of electricity that modern appliances need.
For those that are scratching their heads, allow us to explain. There are a couple of signs that will let you know when overlamping is happening to you, including:
- Tangled up extension cords
- Too many power strips in one outlet
To fix overlamping, you’re going to have to completely rewire your old circuit box. But we can’t emphasize this enough – if you’re not a licensed electrician, you shouldn’t try this at home!
Another common problem that you’ll run into with older homes is unprotected junction boxes. Essentially, junction boxes are where wires and splices meet up to produce electricity. So, you definitely don’t want to stick your hand into here at any time.
Even though unprotected junction boxes aren’t the most dangerous things in the world, you can still get shocked by the wires. Plus, it’s a major code violation too. Do yourself a favor and install a new cover as soon as you can!
Hiring an Electrician Service
Are you asking yourself, how can I find an electrical repair near me? Nowadays, all it takes is a quick online search to find a professional electrician. Make sure to get in touch with an expert if you notice:
- Flickering lights when windy
- Not enough electrical outlets
If you’ve ever noticed flickering lights around your older home when it’s windy, you’ll know that it’s a red flag for electrical repair. To be quite honest with you, it’s usually a sign of some type of frayed wires within your weatherhead.
For those who are unaware, your weatherhead is a protective outdoor covering for the overhead cables that connect to your power line. Despite the fact that it’s not a serious code violation, frayed wiring in old homes has a super high level of danger.
In fact, it could even be considered a code red for older homeowners. That means that your cables can short whenever they move, which could possibly lead to a fire. The best part: contacting an electrical pro to replace your weatherhead is usually free!
Not enough electrical outlets in your antique home? We got your back. If you’ve been relying too heavily on power strips and extension cords, then this could be damaging your electrical wiring too.
Here’s the thing. It’s not against the law to have too few electrical outlets in your home. But now, this law has been so-called “grandfathered in,” with recent rules requiring you to place them at regular intervals. The best part is that this doesn’t present too high of a danger level either.
Fortunately, it only takes around $100 to add more electrical outlets to your home. Of course, you’ll have to hire an electrician to do that job. Prepare to pay more if your outlets are on the second story!
Working With a Commercial Electrician
Planning on working with a commercial electrician? You’re already headed in the right direction, especially if you’re experiencing these problems in your older home:
- Lack of ground-fault circuit interrupters
- Too many wires in your electrical panel
Dealing with a lack of ground-fault circuit interrupters? That can be really risky for antique homes, especially if you live in a super wet region. But fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that if you live in:
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Jackson, Tennessee
- Cookeville, Tennessee
- Columbia, Tennessee
- Clarksville, Tennessee
- Dickson, Tennessee
- Murfreesboro, Tennessee
- Bowling Green, Kentucky
- Huntsville, Alabama
However, even if you live in a warm area, you’re still at risk of electrocution if you’re experiencing these issues near areas like kitchens and baths. In spite of the fact that it’s not exactly a code violation, several ground-fault circuit interrupters are still required to lie within a few feet of places like:
- Outdoor electrical outlets
To solve this, just replace older receptacles with updated ground-fault circuit interrupters. And if you’re not feeling handy, you can pay an electrician to do the work for you instead. Problem solved!
What about too many wires in your electrical panel?
Most Common Electrical Issues for Older Homes
Dying to know about the most common electrical issues for older homes? If you own an old home, don’t be surprised if your electrical issues have been caused by:
- Too much wiring in the panel
- Backstabbed wiring
If you have too much wiring in your panel, you may have put too much pressure onto your electrical circuits. Naturally, this happens when single circuits have been swapped out with double circuits in one spot. And if you’re wondering if this is a code violation, it most certainly is.
What kind of danger level does this present? To put it simply, having a ton of wiring in your panel only presents a minimal risk. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t become a much larger issue when it’s time to sell your home.
For a quick fix, spend some cash on a new subpanel with a couple of additional slots, which will cost just under $300. If you’re planning to do a big-time remodeling project, you’ll have to shell out a lot more dough to get a bigger model.
What’s the real deal about panels with backstabbed wiring? To tell you the truth, this is one of the most annoying problems that people who own older homes face. This typically means that you’ve got loose wires behind your receptacles and switches.
But get this: having backstabbed wiring isn’t considered a code violation, even when it applies to brand new homes. Although this has a small level of danger, the worst issue is normally burnt-out switches. On the other hand, loose backstabbed wires are still fire hazards.
Seeking a solution? Just remove a receptacle or a switch from your outlet box to see if you have any backstabbed connections on your hands. Simply release the backstabbed wires and screw them back into place!
More Electrical Problems for Old Homes
Want to learn about more electrical problems for old homes? Expect to run into at least one of the following problems at one point:
- Panels with aluminum wiring
- Ungrounded receptacles
News flash – if your home was built between the 1960s and 1970s, chances are that you’ve got electrical panels with aluminum wiring. That’s because aluminum used to be a cheaper alternative for copper. In spite of this, it’s not safe to have aluminum wiring within your older house anymore.
That’s not all. Aluminum wiring comes with an extremely high danger level, especially when it touches copper wiring. This causes erosion, which results in loosened connections.
It gets worse: loosened aluminum wiring can even lead to everything from arcing to fires. To solve, be sure to retrofit your dielectric wire nut for your aluminum wiring. Don’t fret, it only costs less than a dollar to buy one of these inexpensive parts.
Complete with special grease, these special wire nuts use a unique grease that prevents aluminum wires from rusting. Not to mention that dielectric wire nuts improve conductivity too.
Let’s face it. Ungrounded receptacles are one of the most frustrating things that can happen to electrical wiring within older homes. This occurs when your antique home’s wiring doesn’t have a way to conduct the stray currents that are trapped within its casing.
While this isn’t a code violation, having an ungrounded receptacle has been grandfathered into most construction laws. That’s because grounded receptacles and circuits have become the standard for today’s housing.
Even though this only presents a minimal level of danger, you’ll still want to avoid plugging three-prong plugs into two-prong outlets. Just phone an electrician to rewire your three-prong plugs for you.
Thinking about getting an electrical panel upgrade? Make sure that you hire a certified electrician first!
Additional Electrical Challenges For Older Homes
On the hunt for additional electrical challenges for older homes? Here’s our last word of advice: check to see if you have any worn receptacle contacts in your electrical panel. If you’re unsure what we mean, you know you have worn receptacles when your electrical plugs simply fall out of the outlet.
While loosened contacts aren’t technically considered to be a code violation, they are still highly risky for antique houses. We’ll put it this way – when you have worn receptacle contacts, you’re at a greater risk for arcing, which can spark dust and dry wood.
But on the bright side, it doesn’t take much money to fix this issue. You can get started by finding a replacement for your older receptacles as quickly as you can. And if you don’t feel up to the challenge, there’s always a helpful electrician that’ll get the job done as well.
What’s the bottom line? Compared to newer homes with insulated, plastic-covered wiring, older copper wires are extremely outdated. However, they’ll usually still work as long as they haven’t been altered in any way.
In case you were curious, here are some of the most popular wiring systems for vintage homes:
- Knob and tube
- Armored cables
What’s the problem with knob and tube wiring systems? Honestly, you won’t be able to ground or splice them with a grounded circuit. Plus, its connections can actually melt when they experience too many electrical currents.
To fix, disconnect or rewire any insulation-covered circuits to prevent overheating. Have armored cables? No big deal – just check on them every five years to see if everything is working properly.
You might be wondering: how on earth can I find residential electricians near me? From asking friends to reading reviews, choose an electrical company with a good reputation!
Tired of Searching “Electrician Near Me” Online?
Are you sick and tired of searching “electrician near me” online? Join the club. That’s why we compiled this handy guide to let you know when you need to phone an electrician for your older home.
From overlamping and unprotected junction boxes to flickering lights and not enough electrical outlets, we’ve got you covered. Not only that, but we cover lack of ground-fault circuit interrupters and too many wires in your electrical panel as well.
Struggling with common electrical problems like too much panel wiring or backstabbed wiring? We’re here to help, especially if you don’t have the time to try to fix it yourself. And if you’re handing a serious problem, we’ll take the risk for you!
Need some help in the electrical department? Give us a call to schedule a free consultation!