Common Electrical Questions And Answers For Owners Of Older Homes

Older homes can have special electrical needs and quirks that homeowners should be aware of. These frequently asked questions and answers can be useful for homeowners in older houses. 

Q: My lights flicker when the air conditioner comes on. Does this mean I have a problem?

A: Many times this happens when an air conditioner draws a lot of power from a limited supply. The older your electrical box, the less power your electrical panel is likely to have. A big modern appliance like an air conditioner can put a temporary strain on the system, causing your lights to flicker. Generally this is not indicative of a problem.

Q: Are fuse boxes bad?

A: Not necessarily. Fuses are definitely the circuit breakers of yesteryear, and as such, are almost always many decades old. It's definitely possible that some of these older systems are in good condition today. However, fuse boxes were the standard in homes before circuit breaker panels were introduced in the 1960's. The older the fuse box, the lower the total amperage is likely to be. Some old fuse boxes may have 60 amp service or less. These boxes with less capacity for power are almost certainly inadequate for modern homes and should be replaced. 

Q: How can I tell if I need an electrical panel upgrade?

A: If you have a fuse box, you'll blow fuses on a regular basis. If you have a circuit breaker box, you'll be flipping those breaker switches quite a bit. You can also tell that you need a panel upgrade if you've developed workarounds for your low electrical service. Maybe you've developed a system wherein the microwave can't be run if the dryer is turned on. If any of these above apply to you, then you need a panel upgrade. You should schedule a consultation with several reputable residential electricians and get some quotes today. 

Q: Why does the wall outlet spark when I plug in an appliance?

A: The electricity in your wall outlets is designed to flow out of the outlet, into the device being plugged in and back into the wall outlet to complete a circuit. When you bring a device with a plug close enough to the outlet, a small spark of electricity may arc to meet the device as the circuit is completed. This happens in houses of all ages, not just older houses, is often normal and generally nothing to be concerned about.

To learn more, contact a company like Excel Electric Inc


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