The Challenges of Electrical Wiring in Old Houses

So your dream house is older, and you’ve got some concerns about the electricity. It’s true that wiring in old houses can carry some challenges for homeowners.

For example, some older houses have cracked or brittle insulation. This should be replaced right away in order to avoid fires.

Another problem is ungrounded wiring. Older houses only had two prong sockets because the plugs were never wired up to a ground.

This problem isn’t always readily apparent to the naked eye. Some people just install 3-prong outlets over the 2-prong wiring.

This is dangerous, and it isn’t a good idea, but people do it. However, it’s only a cosmetic change. The wiring itself hasn’t been handled, and you’ll need additional electrical service to bring your home up to code and safety standards.

Sometimes you can get away with installing GFCI outlets on un-grounded circuits instead of rewiring the whole house. This is admittedly less expensive, but you’ll want to talk to your electrician about which option might be best for you.

Do not, however, use adapters to plug three prong devices into 2 prong outlets. This is even worse than installing the 3-prong outlets over the 2-prong wiring, and can get you electrocuted. It can also ruin whatever you plug in.

Another issue that’s pretty dangerous is aluminum wiring. This issue hails back to the 60s and 70s.

Aluminum wiring can go bad quickly though, especially if it was used side-by-side with copper wiring to save money. You’ll want to get any aluminum wires replaced right away.

You may also find that you don’t have enough outlets in your home. Decades ago, people used far less electricity than they use now!

This isn’t a serious safety hazard unless you start having to over compensate for it.

It’s not a great idea to spread dozens of extension cords and power strips all over your house. Instead, it’s better to just go ahead and get some new outlets installed.

If you have any doubts about the wiring in your older home you should always consult with a licensed, qualified electrician. If you live in Chapel Hill, Cary, or elsewhere in the Triangle, call us! We’ll offer you courteous, friendly service and a free estimate.

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