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Old home wiring: Is it safe?

Flipping a light switch. Charging a laptop computer. Electricity makes our lives easier, and we often don’t give it much thought. But Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative encourages you to think  about electrical safety.

Many homes have older wiring systems. The question is, are older wiring systems a safety hazard?

There are several ways you can assess your risk and make simple changes to reduce the hazards that may be present in an electrical system. By ensuring that your home undergoes a thorough electrical inspection completed by a qualified electrician before buying, selling or remodeling a home, you can make certain your home’s electrical system operates at the highest level of safety possible.

Call a qualified electrician if you have these warning signs in your home:

  • Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • If a fuse opens or circuit breaker is tripped, be sure to investigate the cause before replacing the fuse or resetting the breaker. If necessary, call a qualified electrician to investigate the cause.
  • A tingling sensation when you touch an electrical appliance. Getting a shock when you touch appliances in your house can indicate a more serious problem. Be sure to unplug the appliance and  discontinue use.
  • Discolored or warm wall outlets, or sparks from an outlet. This can indicate arcing, smoldering or burning behind your outlets, damaged or improperly installed wiring in the outlet, or a problem  with the receptacle itself.
  • Avoid using the outlet or switch and contact a qualified electrician as soon as possible.
  • A persistent burning smell coming from an appliance, room or area. This can indicate that the appliance is overheating or malfunctioning. Unplug the appliance or turn off the circuit breaker.
  • Flickering or dimming lights. This sign could indicate a short in the wiring, dangerous arcing or an overextension of your home’s electrical systems. Contact a qualified electrician to discuss potential reasons for this problem and to have an inspection completed.

Older electrical systems can cause other issues as well. Older homes are not often equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). GFCIs are designed to protect against electrical  hazards in bathrooms and kitchens. A lack of electrical outlets can also lead to frequent use of extension cords, which is associated with an increase in fire hazards. If you suspect your home  wiring is not up to code or is a safety hazard, have it inspected by a qualified electrical contractor.

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