In a typical home, electrical wiring can easily last more than 50 years. The copper wires used in electrical systems can last for up to 100 years. Unfortunately, these figures are only true when your electrical wires are properly maintained in a pristine environment.
Houston’s humidity and heat can damage your electrical wires over time. In addition, aluminum wires are known for becoming loose and causing fires. If your home was built before 1970, it may still contain these aluminum wires.
A little electrical troubleshooting can help you figure out if your home needs to be updated. By learning what to look for, you can determine where your electrical issue is. You can also reach out to one of the top electricians in Houston if you need help diagnosing and repairing the issue.
What Are the Signs I Need to Update My Electrical Wires?
On average, there are about 346,800 house fires each year in the United States. Unfortunately, electrical problems are one of the biggest causes of these fires. If you want to keep your home and family safe, you should start by looking at your fuse box or breaker panel. There should be a sticker that shows when the last inspection occurred.
In general, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says that a professional should inspect your home every 10 years. Unfortunately, most municipalities only expect home safety inspections if you are doing a major renovation. If you have not had an inspection for a long time, one of the following problems is an indication that your electrical wiring needs to be repaired soon.
1. Your Outlet or Switch Plate Feels Hot
Most likely, your home has toasters and other appliances that produce heat. While these appliances are supposed to warm up, the switch plate and electrical outlet should never become hot. If you notice the outlet is becoming uncomfortably hot, you should unplug the appliance and try a different outlet. You should also check the original outlet again. If the original outlet is hot without anything plugged into it, it could be a sign that the outlet was not wired properly. Until an electrician can troubleshoot the problem, you may need to flip the breaker to prevent the outlet from causing a fire.
2. Your Bathroom or Kitchen Has the Wrong Outlets
Another common problem with electrical wiring can be found in your kitchen or bathroom. These rooms are known for having high humidity and water. Because of this, they should be outfitted with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
Basically, GFCIs provide electrical grounding and shock protection. These outlets will come with two little buttons in the middle. If your bathroom and kitchen outlets look like the ones in your bedroom, they need to be updated. Once you update the outlet, it will have extra shock protection that will keep it safe whenever water is present.
3. Your Lights Keep Flickering and Dimming
A standard light fixture only draws a small amount of power. Because of this, flickering lights are generally not because of an issue with the actual light fixture. Instead, this problem tends to occur when a space heater or big appliance is connected to the same circuit. For instance, a washing machine requires a significant amount of power to heat water. Each time you run your washing machine, it draws current away from your light fixtures. As a result, you may need to install a dedicated line for your big appliances or change your lights to another circuit.
4. You Have Too Many Extension Cords
While extension cords can be extremely useful, they can also cause problems in the long run. Your electrical wires are placed inside your walls for added protection. If they are installed properly, they can last for up to 100 years.
When you use extension cords instead of standard outlets, you cannot enjoy this added protection and longevity. The cord can kink or become damaged. You or your loved ones may also end up tripping on it. In addition, your home can develop damaged outlets and tripped breakers. While you may need extension cords every once in a while, you should avoid using them all of the time. If you do require them on a frequent basis, you should hire electricians in Houston to install more outlets instead.
5. Something Is Causing Sparks
Sparks are never a good indication. The location of the sparks will determine how large the problem is. If it is coming from an appliance, you may need the appliance repaired or replaced. Meanwhile, sparks from a fuse box, breaker panel, or outlet will be repaired differently.
6. You Hear Buzzing
When everything is running properly in your home, you should not be able to hear your electricity. If there is a problem, you might hear a buzzing sound. This can happen because of loose prongs, broken outlets, or frayed wires. If you can tell where the sound is coming from, you should stop using that outlet. Afterward, you should call electricians in Houston for help.
7. You Smell a Funny Odor
Sometimes, appliances will release weird smells when they are initially turned on. This is generally not an issue. If you have had an appliance for a while, it should no longer make weird odors. You should immediately stop using any appliance that is making an odd scent. Likewise, you should immediately call an electrician if your breaker panel or fuse box is making an unusual odor.
8. Your Home Has Old or Aluminum Wires
If your home was produced between 1965 and 1973, it was most likely made with aluminum wires. These wires are known for causing house wires. As soon as you discover aluminum wiring, you need to call an electrician to rewire your entire home as soon as possible.
Old wiring can also lead to problems. If your property is at least 50 years old, your electrical wiring most likely needs to be updated. Old wiring and similar electrical problems cause around 10 percent of house fires.
9. You Keep Tripping Breakers
When your fuse or circuit breaker is overloaded, it will stop working. For instance, using a vacuum cleaner can trip the breaker. If the breaker is tripped because of an appliance, you do not need to worry. When you keep blowing the same fuse over and over again without an obvious cause, there may be a different circuit at fault.
10. You Notice Smoke, Scorched Material, or Discoloration
To keep your family safe, you should pay attention to your electrical outlets. If the outlet is discolored or has scorch marks, something is damaged. Smoke, scorch marks, and discoloration only happen when heat is present, so these are all indications that something dangerous is going on.
When Should I Update My Wiring?
It is important to get regular home safety inspections. While old wiring is more likely to be dangerous, new wiring is not immune to becoming damaged. Anytime wires become worn, corroded, damaged, or cracked, they can become a fire hazard. If you notice these issues, you should update the electrical wiring in your home. Likewise, you should look for frayed cords, loose connections, damaged wire insulation, overheated cords, and damaged appliances.
Why Do I Need to Update My Electrical Systems If Everything Works?
Even when your electrical wires are damaged, they may still continue to function. For example, damaged wires may overheat whenever they are used. While you can still get electricity to run your appliances, these electrical wires could start a fire.
Old homes are more likely to need updates. If your home was built before the 1940s, it has a type of wiring system that ran through the building’s frame. At the time, electricians would wrap ungrounded wires in electrical tape. In addition, your home may use rubber insulation if it was built before 1960. This kind of insulation tends to flake over time, which can lead to fire hazards.
What Happens During Home Safety Inspections?
After you reach out to electricians in Houston, they can come to your home and perform home safety inspections. If you have already noticed signs of a problem, they can also conduct electrical troubleshooting. In general, electricians can help through service inspections, basic electrical inspections, and final inspections.
A basic inspection is when the electrician checks your conduits, wires, and electrical panels. They will make sure everything is intact. Often, this inspection happens while the electrical wiring is getting installed.
A service inspection is when a licensed inspector checks the panel or other electrical systems. They are trying to determine if the panel is correctly installed. If there is a problem with the electrical grounding, it could become dangerous.
During a final inspection, the inspector is trying to determine if your electrical system is working properly. They may conduct trial runs to see how everything works. If there is an issue, they will recommend the best way to fix it.
On occasion, you may also hire electricians in Houston for routine inspections. In general, you should get your electrical wires inspected every decade. During this process, the electrician will look for signs of a problem and recommend the best course of action.
Get New Electrical Wiring Today
If you have noticed problems with your electrical grounding, outlets, or breakers, help is available. The right electricians in Houston can help you with electrical troubleshooting and routine inspections. To learn more about our services, call Right Touch Electrical today.