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Is Your Electrical System Deficient?

Serving Families Throughout Clackamas
Electrical outlet cover

As time has gone by, our dependence on electricity has increased. More and more of our devices have begun to depend on electricity. New technology is considered energy-efficient due to how it uses electricity but still uses large amounts of power. As a result, the electrical systems previously built into our homes might not be good enough to meet our modern-day needs. This is especially true of older homes built to entirely different standards.

Should I Replace My Electrical Panel?

If your home is 40 years old or more, there’s a realistic chance that your electrical system is deficient in some way. In most cases, this simply means you should consider having your system upgraded somewhat soon. In other cases, this means that you could be at risk for some serious problems.

Answer these questions to determine if it’s time to upgrade your system:

How old is your home?

Many homeowners today appreciate older properties – not only are they practical, but they offer a cozy “retro” atmosphere that many people appreciate. However, even if you love your old-fashioned home, it may be time to embrace the future with your electrical panel.

Once upon a time, we could get all the energy we needed from a single 60-amp electrical panel. However, today, 60 amps won’t get the job done, meaning you need to upgrade to a 100-amp or 200-amp version to use all the electrical equipment and outlets you access daily. If you’re unsure how old your existing electrical panel is, here are a few signs that it’s not young enough to keep up with the modern workload:

  • Your appliances aren’t performing at their best
  • Your lights flicker
  • You have a defective panel that doesn’t shut off during overload
  • Using multiple appliances trips breakers
  • The panel looks melted or corroded

How often do you use extension cords?

Extension cords are common in most homes, but they’re not always as safe and convenient as one might think. Besides creating a serious tripping hazard, electrical wires are usually kept in or against walls for a purpose; a protected wiring system leads to less wear and tear. Expose wires left strewn across your living room floor can get shorted, kinked, or pinched, leading to damaged outlets, tripped breakers, or even fire. If you’re constantly turning to your extension cords, then it’s time to upgrade your electrical panel and install a few more outlets.

Does your home use fuses or circuit breakers?

If your home was built sometime before the 1970s, then it may have a fuse-based electrical system in place. While both fuses and circuit breakers perform the same function, it’s worth noting that fuses are outdated, and unlike circuit breakers, they don’t trip when they’re overloaded and melt, blow, or short-circuit instead. These devices can be costly, inconvenient, and even dangerous in rare cases.

How much smart technology does your household rely on?

If you’re expanding your home, remodeling, or introducing new and exciting electrical products into your home, then this could be a sign that you need to upgrade your electrical panel. After all, you need to ensure that you have the power necessary for your enhanced home to function properly. Anything from a new room to the addition of a new major appliance such as a refrigerator, hot tub, or air conditioner could overburden your existing electrical panel, damaging performance throughout your home.

Signs Your Electrical System Needs an Upgrade

Check out our blog to learn about a few signs that your aging electrical system may actually be deficient.

Flickering Lights

The first sign of a deficient electrical system is one that you might not even think about: flickering lights. Do you notice that the lights in your home seem to flicker in brightness for seemingly no reason? Do you notice a definitive change in brightness when you turn on a high-energy appliance, like a vacuum cleaner or your air conditioner? These are all signs that your electrical system does not have the amperage capacity to properly supply your entire home.

As more and more current is pulled into high-consumption devices, the current going to other devices dips. With lightbulbs, this is noticeable as the brightness level decreases. If the light level continues to flicker, this is a sign of instability usually caused by either worn-out circuit breakers, deficient wiring, or a number of other potential problems.

We recommend having your electrical system inspected as soon as possible if you notice that your lights are flickering in your home, particularly older incandescent style bulbs, as these are far more susceptible to drops in voltage and current.

Breakers That Frequently Trip

Circuit breakers are a great indicator of whether or not your electrical system can meet your needs. A circuit breaker is an important safety device that closely monitors the current flowing through an electrical circuit. If that current exceeds the breaker’s capacity, the breaker trips and shuts off, breaking the circuit and shutting off the electrical flow, thus preventing a ton of potential problems. However, breakers can and do wear out over time, and when they do, they can’t keep you protected. This leaves you vulnerable to a ton of problems as well as potentially dangerous conditions.

If you find that plugging in a few different devices in the same room causes the breaker to trip, there’s a chance that your electrical system could be deficient.

Outlets Spark When Things Are Plugged In

When you plug something in to an outlet, you might notice a small spark as the leads make contact with the plug itself. While this isn’t uncommon, it shouldn’t be accepted as normal. This sparking could mean one of several different things, such as a worn-out outlet or aging wiring. However, they all indicate a potential deficiency in your electrical system.

These sparks are known as “arcing” and usually mean that any anti-arc safety measures you have in place, such as arc-fault circuit interrupters, might not be working as they should. We strongly recommend having this problem investigated. In a best-case scenario, replacing the worn-out outlet will solve the problem. In some more serious circumstances, you may need to have part of your home’s wiring replaced.

As important as it may be to upgrade your electrical panel to make sure that you’re getting the power you need for your modern appliances, it’s also crucial to upgrade for the sake of safety.

A-TEMP Heating, Cooling & Electrical is here to help. Call us seven days a week to set up a panel inspection. We will send out one of our licensed electricians to go over your panel and your home’s electrical needs.