Modern households rely on electricity more now than ever before. The need for reliable and safe electricity in every home is only going to increase, meaning that your electrical system needs to keep up. However, many people neglect to upgrade the electrical systems in their homes for much longer than they should.
This isn’t usually due to a lack of caring. Many people don’t know how to tell when their electrical system is due for an upgrade. Luckily, there are many symptoms of an outdated or damaged electrical system that any homeowner can learn to quickly spot.
The Age of the Wiring
Generally, if your home is over 30 years old and has never been rewired, you should have your electrical system upgraded by a professional electrician. Not only will electrical systems 30 years or older have a much harder time keeping up with the electrical demands of the modern day, but safety issues start to arise when wiring gets this old.
If the wiring in your home has been upgraded within the last 30 years, then the concern shifts to building code requirements. The electrical system within your home might not be so old that it is causing functionality issues or safety hazards yet, but decades of improvements to building codes in the meantime mean your wiring might not be up to modern standards. You should have a building inspector or an electrician come out to your house to analyze your electrical wiring and see if any alterations or upgrades are needed to meet building codes.
Outlets or Switches Are Hot
While electricity generates a lot of heat, and some electrical appliances get hot during operation, outlets, and switches should never feel hot to the touch. When you touch the outlet or switch, it should feel about as cool as the wall surrounding it. The only exception here is dimmer switches.
Due to the way dimmer switches work, they do emit some warmth when the lights are on and dimmed. The dimmer switch lets off excess electricity based on the level of dimming through the switch, causing it to feel slightly warm. However, even dimmer switches should never feel hot.
If there is heat coming off any outlet or switch, it indicates that there is a problem with your wiring, the switch, or the outlet. Cut power to the switch or outlet immediately and contact a professional electrician. Depending on the core issue, it is recommended to either have your electrical system upgraded fully or replace your outlet or switch.
Scorch Marks or Burning Smells
Even if the outlets and switches don’t feel hot, there could still be signs of heat and electrical damage. The most prominent symptoms of heat and electrical damage are scorch marks around outlets and burning smells.
During use, an outlet may overheat so much that the surrounding area gets tinged brown with a scorch mark. Burning smells may not be coming directly from outlets or switches. The damaged wiring could be deep in the walls or ceiling. If you notice any scorch marks or burning smells, contact a professional electrician immediately to safely repair and upgrade your electrical system.
In a house with a properly working modern electrical system, you should never be able to hear any noises coming from it. However, old, damaged, overloaded, loose, or improperly grounded wires may produce a persistent buzzing noise. Any electrical systems producing buzzing noises should be evaluated by a professional electrician as soon as possible to make your electrical system safe and properly functional again.
A tiny spark when you plug something into an outlet is common and not usually a cause for concern. However, if you’re frequently experiencing sparks from outlets when you plug something in, especially if the spark seems particularly large, it’s likely a sign that your electrical system is experiencing problems. At the very least, your outlet will need to be replaced. Shut off power to the outlet immediately and contact an electrician as soon as possible to safely fix the issue.
Breakers Frequently Tripping
Circuit breakers rarely trip when the electrical system is up to modern standards, and homeowners don’t use too many high-voltage electrical devices on the same circuit. However, an outdated, poorly designed, or damaged system will typically experience many tripped breakers.
Due to the higher electrical demand of modern homes, the breakers may trip due to not being designed to handle that level of power. Poor design of electrical systems may cause a breaker to trip due to high-voltage electrical devices being used in two completely different parts of the home. Old and damaged systems commonly have shorts that frequently trip the breaker.
Getting your electrical system upgraded will allow you to use all your electrical devices without interruption. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to have a professional create a better electrical system design plan for your home to increase safety and convenience.
Frequent Flickering Lights or Brownouts
One of the most apparent signs that your electrical system is outdated, damaged, and in need of updating is frequent flickering lights and brownouts. The lights in your home flicker when large amounts of electricity are being used, such as when your air conditioner kicks on. When the lights flicker when no powerful electronic device is being used and it happens frequently, it is likely indicative of an issue with the system.
Brownouts are caused by significant drops in voltage throughout the entire electrical system that lasts for several minutes to hours. Brownouts sometimes happen due to a slump in electricity from the power company because of problems like severe weather conditions or many people on the grid simultaneously using air conditioners or heaters. However, if you’re the only one in the area experiencing brownouts, it’s purely a problem with the electrical system in your home. It’s best to have a professional electrician evaluate your wiring and upgrade your system as soon as possible.
The most concerning sign that your electrical system is in dire need of an upgrade is if you or anyone else has gotten electrocuted after touching an outlet, switch, plug cord, or electrical device plugged into an outlet. Some instances of electrocution can be caused by a bad cord or a faulty electrical appliance, but they are also frequently caused by outdated and damaged electrical systems. If this ever happens, shut off power to the area immediately and contact a professional electrician as soon as possible.
Contact the Professionals
If you’ve noticed signs that your electrical system needs an upgrade, you can rely on our skilled electricians at Black-Haak to improve your system with high-quality wiring, electrical panels, circuit breakers, surge protectors, outlets, and switches. In addition to electrical system upgrades, we also provide installation, repair, and replacement services for plumbing, water heaters, sump pumps, air conditioners, furnaces, air purifiers, generators, and much more. To learn more about any of the services we provide in Fox Valley, Wisconsin, or the surrounding areas, contact us at Black-Haak today.