Outdated Wiring: DIY Electrical Wiring vs. Professional Electrical Services
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Posted September 12, 2022
Whether you’re a buyer with your heart set on an older home or you’ve lived in an older house for a while, the last thing you need to worry about is your outdated wiring. But of course, older, outdated wiring is a big problem in houses that are 30 years old (or older).
So what’s a homeowner to do? The question of DIY electrical wiring vs. professional electrical services has crossed every homeowner’s mind at some point. Even if your home can’t handle a large amount of power, it’s one of those issues you don’t often tackle until it becomes a problem—and sometimes by then, it is too late.
Faulty, outdated wiring is a huge problem. It can cause house fires, electrical shocks, and more. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to DIY electrical wiring vs. professional electrical services. Always call a trained electrician. Electrical services should never be done by anyone who does not have the proper know-how and training to do the job safely and correctly — here’s why!
Why Does Outdated Wiring Matter?
If you own an older home, especially one that hasn’t been updated recently, you likely have outdated wiring. But what does that mean? The rubber coatings can deteriorate as wiring ages, exposing the copper wiring underneath. When the wire is exposed, it’s a danger that homeowners can’t ignore—exposed wiring can cause injuries and fires.
Additionally, if your circuit breaker trips regularly, you may have a short circuit problem caused by outdated wiring. The old wiring can’t handle all the voltage, so the circuit breaker shuts down.
Don’t turn to DIY electrical wiring fixes if you think you have outdated or faulty wires. Call an experienced licensed electrician instead. Electrical work is sensitive and must be done correctly. Never trust anyone but a technician trained in wiring issues to minimize fire and injury risks.
Signs You Need to Update Your Wiring
Because wires are inside the walls, many homeowners don’t give too much thought to their home’s wiring until there’s an electrical problem. Maybe an outlet sparks, you smell burning, or an outlet works intermittently. Many signs of bad wiring go unnoticed or ignored as homeowners switch to a working outlet and forget the problem.
But before you jump into updating your wiring yourself, keep in mind that even with minor issues, DIY electrical wiring jobs can be deadly. There’s a very small margin for error when working with something as touchy as electric. So, to find the root cause or fix any wiring issues, call a licensed electrician for professional electrical services.
Here are the most common signs of bad wiring and outdated wires:
- Older home
- Frequent breaker trips
- Flickering and dimming lights
- Stained or discolored outlets
- Frayed or damaged wiring
- Scorch marks, weird smells, or smoke
- Loose wires and connections
- Crackling and popping sounds
- Home insulation is damaged
Do you know when your home was built? If it was before 1985, there is a high chance you have outdated wiring, especially if your home hasn’t been updated or remodeled. If you own an older home, certain license and code requirements were not implemented until 1985, and your home may be behind the times. It’s a good idea to get your wiring inspected and updated by a professional electrical services provider as soon as possible.
If you find yourself frequently reaching for extension cords or constantly struggling to find a free outlet (plugging in multiple items at once using extenders), that’s a good sign of wiring issues, or at least that your home doesn’t have enough electrical outlets. Older homes were often built before we relied on so many home electronics and thus tended not to have many outlets. If this sounds like your home, you probably have outdated wiring.
Frequent breaker trips
If your breakers trip when you turn on an appliance or light, you may have overloaded circuits—one of the signs of bad wiring. Outdated wiring can only handle a certain degree of voltage, so the breaker shuts off when the voltage gets too high. Flipping the breaker doesn’t solve the problem. It’s time to call a licensed electrician to address your home’s wiring issues.
Dim or flickering lights
Do you find that your lights flicker when you use the toaster oven, microwave something, or turn on your washing machine? Flickering lights are a sign that you may have outdated circuit wires that can’t keep up with the high voltage and electrical demand.
Frayed or damaged wiring
Wire damage happens for many reasons, like age, heat, rodents, and corrosion. You might notice wiring issues and damage in the basement, beneath a cabinet, or in the attic. Call an electrician right away when you discover broken, frayed, or chewed wiring. A frayed wire isn’t a time to implement DIY electrical wiring solutions.
Scorch marks, weird smells, or smoke
Electrical faults can cause sparks, which lead to fires. You can tell if your outlets are sparking or malfunctioning by checking for scorch marks or burns near the outlet. You may also notice smoke or odd smells like burnt plastic. Call an electrician if your outlets are warm to the touch—don’t try a DIY electrical wiring fix.
Loose wires and connections
Wires and outlets can become loose over time. Sometimes plugs won’t stay in place, or you notice that the outlet jiggles. If you see flickering lights or experience short circuits, there may be a loose wire or connection, especially if you own an older home. Professional electrical services can find the cause of the wiring issues and update your electrical system.
Crackling and popping sounds
Hearing sizzling, popping, or any noise at all from appliances or outlets is a huge warning sign. Don’t ignore noisy outlets! It means you have an underlying electrical issue that needs to be addressed right away as it’s a major fire hazard. Owning an older home increases your risk of faulty wires that cause those unusual sounds. Call someone to address the issue. Never do electrical wiring work on your own. It should only be carried out by a licensed electrician.
Home insulation is damaged
Older homes may have damaged or degraded insulation. Moisture, time, and household pests can damage your insulation and leave wires unprotected. Insulation issues can lead to wire problems—wiring is protected by insulation, so broken insulation leaves your wires even more vulnerable to rodents, cuts, and corrosion.
Additional Benefits of Updating Your Wiring
There are many benefits to updating your home’s wiring. When you upgrade to newer wiring, you’re getting rid of the old aluminum wires first introduced in the 1970s. Older wiring tends to corrode. Wire corrosion presents safety concerns like fires, short circuits, and high energy costs.
Newer wiring uses highly conductive copper that prevents long-term corrosion and won’t interrupt the electrical current flow. The newer copper wiring also allows your appliances to function more efficiently.
Additionally, replacing aluminum wiring with copper alloy is more budget-friendly. Even though it may not seem as budget-friendly as a DIY electrical wiring solution initially, having updated wiring installed by a certified electrician will save you repair costs later (and offer you peace of mind).
Call a Professional Electrician
If you’re a homeowner, protect your family and your investment by taking the necessary steps for electrical safety. DIY electrical wiring should be left to professionally trained and certified electricians.
Electrical fires are one of the most common causes of house fires. Even if you think your wiring is fine, it’s better to know for sure so you don’t regret it later. The best thing you can do is have your home inspected. Every home should be given a thorough check every 10-40 years.
If you’ve noticed these warning signs of old wires, don’t wait; contact Hiller today. We’ve been serving Tennessee for over 30 years with award-winning electrical services. We have financial assistance available, ensuring we can do an electrical inspection quickly without a hit to your budget.