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Common Electrical Problems in Older Connecticut Homes

One of the perks of owning a home in Connecticut is the wide variety of antique and historic homes to choose from. Unfortunately, even if your home isn’t old enough to be historic, many of these dated properties have outdated electrical systems that are unsafe, fail to pass inspections, or otherwise fail to meet the needs of modern homeowners.

For those considering purchasing a starter home, planning a major renovation, or just experiencing electrical issues, it can be helpful to know the most common electrical issues in homes and their causes.

The Most Common Electrical Issues in Homes and Their Causes

  • Faulty outlets/switches – Old wiring, loose connections, and wear and tear over time can lead to outlets and switches that are hot to the touch, sparking, or not making proper contact.

  • Blown fuses/tripped breakers – Overloaded circuits from too many devices or appliances running at once is the most common cause. Faulty appliances drawing too much power can also trip breakers.

  • Odd electrical smells – Burning or “fishy” smells indicate wires are overheating. This is usually caused by overloads, old wiring, or too few circuits.

  • Sparking outlets/switches – Any sparking indicates damaged wiring and connections. Sparks point to serious hazards like potential fires

  • Buzzing electrical panels – Electrical panels and transformers can buzz or hum when wiring is overloaded. Damaged components can also cause noise.

  • Frequent power outages – Faulty wiring leading to tripped breakers is the most common cause. Water leaking into the electrical system can also cause outages.

Signs You Need an Electrical Upgrade

Spotting any of these red flags is a good indication that your home’s electrical system is outdated or potentially dangerous and requires professional upgrades or repairs for safety. The age of your home can also signal the need for upgrades – any home with wiring over 20 years old may require upgrades to meet modern safety codes and electrical demands. If your home still has a fuse box, knob and tube wiring, or aluminum wiring, upgrades are absolutely essential. Consult a licensed electrician at the first sign of any issues for a thorough inspection and repair recommendations.

Upgrading the Electrical System

Improving electrical safety throughout your home can often requires a mix of repairs. Here’s our tips for getting started with identifying and fixing your home’s electrical issues.

Hire a Licensed Electrician

A qualified electrician should inspect the electrical system to advise which upgrades are needed. The issues mentioned above can be caused by a variety of causes, and without experience as an electrician, it can be difficult to tell the root cause. Attempting an unnecessary electrical panel upgrade when the issues are caused by frayed wires or another issue could be a waste of thousands of dollars. Never attempt electrical work without proper training and protective equipment.

Replacing the Electrical Panel

Upgrading to a higher amp service panel and adding more breaker circuits often improves functionality, and in the case of older panels can be critical to your safety. It’s important to know that many of these electric panels are on back order or otherwise can take quite a long time to arrive, so if your electrical upgrade is a part of a larger remodel, you should plan your work schedule to accommodate any delays caused by the panel.

Installing GFCI Outlets

GFCI outlets have a safety switch to prevent shocks. These should be installed in kitchens, bathrooms and other wet areas wherever possible, and in most places are required by building codes.

Rewiring the Home

For old, damaged wiring, a complete rewire of the home’s electrical system may be necessary. This is an extremely expensive process, as it often requires removing walls.

Electrical Safety Tips

While upgrading the system, there are minor improvements homeowners can make to increase electrical safety:

Use Surge Protectors

Plug electronics into surge protectors to prevent power spikes from damaging devices or starting fires.

Check for Faulty Appliances

Listen for buzzing or sizzling sounds, which can indicate faulty appliances drawing too much power through old wiring. Unplug them and have them repaired.

Update Lighting Fixtures

Replace old light switches and faded lamp cords, which can fray or spark over time.

Replace Old Light Switches

Switches from the 1950s-70s contained mercury and may make cracking noises indicating they should be updated.

FAQ

What are GFCI outlets?2023-08-18T14:06:03+00:00

GFCI outlets have a built-in safety switch that cuts power if there is risk of electric shock. These protect against electrocution and should be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and other wet areas.

How much does it cost to upgrade electrical in an older home?2023-08-18T14:05:49+00:00

Costs vary based on the size of the home and extent of the work needed. Rewiring a 2,000 square foot home often costs $8,000-$15,000. Upgrading the panel and adding new circuits may cost $2,000 or more.

Is it safe to keep using fuse boxes?2023-08-18T14:05:20+00:00

No, old fuse box systems should be upgraded to modern circuit breaker panels for safety. Circuit breakers help prevent overloads better than fuses.

What are signs I may need to upgrade my older home’s electrical system?2023-08-18T14:05:07+00:00

Signs include frequently tripped breakers, flickering lights, odd burning smells from the electrical system, outlets that don’t hold plugs, and buzzing sounds from wiring.

What are the most common electrical problems in older Connecticut homes?2023-08-18T14:04:49+00:00

Some of the most common electrical issues in old Connecticut homes are frayed, outdated wiring; overloaded circuits; faulty electrical panels; and not enough circuits to meet modern electrical demand.

Published On: August 18th, 2023 / Categories: Electrical CT, Home Improvement Contractor, Home Remodeling, Kitchen Remodeling Tips /

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