As a homeowner, it can be easy to take quality wiring for granted. If your electricity works well most of the time, it can be easy to overlook important repairs—after all, it’s quite difficult to address an issue that’s literally hidden within our house’s walls. However, neglecting to repair or replace faulty or outdated wiring may not just lead to some major inconveniences down the road, it also poses a serious risk. Electrical fires make up 39 percent of the 25,900 annual household fires reported in the United States. Fortunately, by ensuring that your wiring is functioning properly, you can avoid such dangers and even save on energy costs! The following five issues are tell-tale signs that it may be time to call in the experts at Rytec Electric:
1. Outdated Wiring
It’s important to ensure that your wiring is up to code, and a trained electrician can help you spot any issues you might have with a quick inspection. If you live in an aging house, there may be risks you aren’t aware of. Older wiring may come loose, fray, or suffer damage from rodents, weather, or leaks. Similarly, it may have been installed when different practices were acceptable. Outdated wiring systems are generally grandfathered in when electrical codes are updated, but that doesn’t mean they are safe! In the 1970s, a rise in the price of copper meant that many houses were wired with aluminum. Aluminum wiring later turned out to be a fire hazard, but 40-plus-year-old houses may still retain their original wiring. Especially if your house is exhibiting any other warning signs, it might be a good idea to make sure that your house is not hiding any fire risks within its walls.
2. Heat or scorched switch plates, cords or plugs
Outlets and electrical appliances generate a small amount of heat, but if that heat becomes noticeable, it typically means the connection is unsafe. If you notice any part of your outlets becoming discolored, this could mean that your electrical connections are generating excess heat. Similarly, exposed wiring can spark and start small, less noticeable electrical fires that discolor outlets. Any outlet that is scorched or is too hot to touch is a serious fire hazard, especially if it is generating heat when there is no appliance connected to it. Discontinue the use of that outlet until you can have a professional inspect it.
3. Smoke and funny smells
New appliances may produce a smell the first time they are plugged in. However, if an outlet starts to smell, or worse yet, emit smoke, unplug any devices from it immediately and call an electrician to inspect it. Turn off the breaker for that outlet and do not use it until it has been inspected.
4. Flickering lights
Power fluctuations or inclement weather can cause lights to flicker from time to time, as can improperly installed lightbulbs. If your lights tend to flicker on and off or provide inconsistent light regularly, it could be a sign that you have inherited a ghost with your house. But it’s far more likely that you have inherited faulty wiring. Flickering means that your electricity is not reaching its destination properly, likely due to wiring issues. Buzzing sounds from light fixtures or outlets is another key sign that your wiring is not working as it should.
5. Tripping the breaker
It’s not uncommon for the circuit breakers in your home to trip occasionally, especially if you happen to try to charge all your devices while the washing machine is running. Modern devices like tablets demand more power than some older electrical systems were designed for, and circuit breakers work to prevent power overloads. Having outdated wiring may limit the appliances that you can buy. If your breaker trips regularly or starts tripping more often than usual, it could be a sign that you have an unaddressed electrical issue.
6. Insufficient or outdated outlets
Older houses typically have fewer outlets, as previous generations had far simpler electrical needs than we do. If you find yourself using a lot of extension cords, your power needs have probably surpassed what your house can safely provide. Also, modern devices need to be grounded to operate safely, and outdated two-pronged outlets cannot provide that.
With our current electrical needs, ensure that your household wiring is safe, efficient and up to date is more important than ever. While electrical repair should be left to the professionals, keeping an eye out for these signs will help you know exactly when new wiring is in order.
About the author
Steven Scheeler is a Master Electrician from Columbia, SC. He founded Rytec Electric on the principle that electrical systems should be tailored to the needs of each customer individually while treating service as a commodity leads to lower quality work and disrespect for the customer’s home. He recruits Master and Journeyman electricians to service the communities in which they live, so customers are respected as a neighbor and a friend instead of disappearing into a national brand’s balance sheet. Rytec grew rapidly on the strength of local word-of-mouth and direct referrals. What started fifteen years ago as a truck, trailer, and garage has expanded into major hubs in Columbia and Wilmington, supporting top-notch commercial and residential electrical services across the Midlands. The teams Steven trained have the expertise, resources, and local relationships to execute almost any electrical project in South Carolina.