Old House Wiring Symptom Checker

Buying an older home is sometimes an economically wise decision, but you never know what you're going to find when you open up a wall. Sometimes the wiring has been upgraded, and other times it becomes abundantly clear that the entire house needs an electric overhaul. If you're living in an older house, and are planning some updates, you might be wondering if you're going to find a nasty surprise when you go to remodel for that highly valued open concept. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for in deciding whether to consult an electrician.

Symptom #1: Outlet Extensions

Look around your house. Do you have extension cords taped along the floor to create an outlet where you need one? Do you have outlet extenders plugged into every outlet in the kitchen just so you can have your coffee pot, bean grinder, stand mixer, and toaster plugged in at the same time? That's a good indication that your home was built before there was so much demand for electricity.

In the years of yore, electricity was more of a luxury than a necessity, and most households had only a few electrical appliances. Many of the tasks that used to be done by hand are now accomplished by appliances, and that means homeowners need a lot more outlets. When you're living with the inconvenience of having to keep outlet extenders and extension cords around, not only will rewiring make your home more safer, it will also make it more functional.

Symptom #2: Throwing Breakers

If you can't count the number of times you've had to dig around in the breaker box to find which circuit you've overloaded on both hands, it's probably time to consider hiring an electrician. The older your wiring is, the less likely it is that it will be able to handle the demands of today's electricity consumption. 

Even worse, if your home is still operating on a fuse box instead of a breaker box, you can be assured it is filled with archaic wiring that is in dire need of replacing. Old wiring, the kind used when fuse boxes were in their heyday, can be unreliable, create fire hazards, or may have become damaged over the years by moisture, rodents, or some other household malady. 

Symptom #3: Hot Spots

Have you ever walked by an outlet in use and noticed the air around it felt a little warmer than usual? Are your walls discolored around sockets or in seemingly random places? These are signs that wires in the wall are heating up, and as you can imagine, that means there's a fire hazard.

Old wires may not be connected to control boxes with ground fault circuit interrupters, technology that is designed to shut the power off when the load gets to be too high. Instead of overloading the system and blowing a fuse or flipping a breaker, it just keeps drawing more and more electricity until the circuit is interrupted, usually by a fire melting the wires until they don't connect any more. If that doesn't sound like your idea of a good time, you'll get an electrician in ASAP when you notice signs of wires or outlets heating up.

Some older homes have already had their wiring updated. If you're lucky enough to live in one of those homes, good for you! For the rest of the folks buying and living in older houses this year, using this symptom checker will help you decide when it's time to address the wiring in your home. Look around, and make the call to your electrician. You won't be sorry.