Upgrading Old House Electrical Systems
If you own an older home and are thinking of upgrading your old house’s electrical system so that your house can become more energy efficient and save you money in the long run, then you may want to get some ideas from other people who have pursued such projects to see what is the best course of action. Every old house is different and you may need to do some custom work to make your situation work for you. There are many reasons why you may be considering upgrading the old electrical system in your home.
Many old homes have electrical systems that have a smaller power capacity than today’s more modern homes require. This can cause many problems in today’s electronic and gadget based world. For this reason many people look to expand the capacity of their home’s electrical system. Some of the symptoms of your home not having enough power are:
You frequently blow fuses or circuit breakers when you use too many appliances like vacuum cleaners, microwaves or space heaters
The lights dim when you turn on an appliance
You don’t have enough electrical receptacles for the number of appliances you use.
You may have many extension cords and adapters to fit more plugs
Think about the new appliances that have become widely available over the last 40 years or so. Vacuum cleaners, space heaters, air conditioners, microwaves, curling irons, hair dryers, big screen televisions, spas, computers etc… Many of these appliances draw significant amounts of electrical power. Some older homes only have 60- 100 amps of power available in their electrical panel. A typical space heater or microwave can draw 15-20 amps alone. Of course you also have to consider the power drawn by the lights, fridge, microwave, etc.
Now you can see why it may be necessary to upgrade your homes electrical system. Upgrading a homes electrical system isn’t an easy job and it’s not recommended to get involved with a project like this unless you are a professional and you know what you’re doing. This is not a job for your handyman, the brand new electrician or your friends brother who “knows how to do electrical work”. If you need to upgrade your electrical system, you should contact a licensed Electrical Contractor in your area. You should consult with them about your project and what you’re trying to accomplish with the new system in your home.
It is important to check the references of any company you are considering working with. Often reviews that can be found on various places on the internet can give some valuable insight about the local residential electricians you will choose to do the job. The cheapest contractor is not necessarily your best bet, neither is the most expensive, however remember that the old adage “you get what you pay for” is often true.
A qualified electrical contractor who has enough experience upgrading older homes can help you expand the power capacity of that old home so that you will have the capacity to power the more modern devices that require higher voltage draws.
Most people today have modern appliances such as dishwashers, washers, dryers, generators and other types of appliances that require more voltage than what some older types of homes have available. To have your old home support your newer and more modern appliances you will most likely have to consult your local electrician or electrical contractor and talk to them about what they can do to expand your home’s capacity. When they come to inspect the home, your local licensed electrician will look at the original electric system that is currently in place. Most of the time these old electrical systems that have been around since the 40s or even earlier are simply do not have the capacity to power the appliances we use everyday in our lives. The licensed electrician will most likely increase the power capacity of your old home by bringing in more power from the street. This is done by replacing your old panel and breaker boxes with a larger electric panel which can handle the requirement of your home. This can be a tricky process so it’s advised to have an experienced electrician handle the task for you to ensure that everything is done safely and to proper specifications.
Some things to be sure to ask are, will you be completely removing the old panel? How many circuits do I need for my home? Will you be using the correct size wires and breakers for every circuit? Will you be switching ALL of the power over? Will you be obtaining all the permits?
These are important questions to ask. It will show that you understand what you are talking about and prevent inexperienced or unscrupulous contractors from taking advantage and not providing you with everything you pay for. We have seen many instances where homeowners paid for what they thought was a professional and complete service upgrade, but they later learn (unfortunately) that the old service is buried inside a wall with the new panel put on top but not all the power switched over.
Your electrical contractor should we willing and able to handle all aspects of your electrical service upgrade including obtaining a permit and dealing with the city and the utility company. Once you have your new power system with an increased capacity, you’ll never have to worry about the safety of your home from an electrical perspective, blowing circuits or having the power you need for all of your appliances.