When looking for a home a lot of homebuyers flip the light switches, check the outlets, briefly look at the electrical panel, and think that the electrical system is perfectly fine. However, this is not always the case and it is important to have an expert come in for inspection.
Your home’s electrical system will age, just like your plumbing, roof, air conditioning and heating system. Those systems can have unexpected issues and problems, and so can your home’s electrical system.
Over ten years, the reliability of your homes’ electrical system can deteriorate greatly. Certain components can expire, like smoke detectors. Other items can wear out and not function properly like light switches, receptacles can wear and lose retention, GFCI outlets and smoke detectors may not be operable and may not be there when you need them most. Here are a few electrical components that can change over time and here is some information regarding other problems associated with older homes electrical systems.
- Loose service panel connections – Over time the wires that connect to the breakers in the main electrical panel will loosen and can cause arcing. This is due to the expansion and contraction of the wires as they heat up and cool with regular use. This will create intermittent power problems and flickering lights in your home. We will check and tighten up all the breaker connections in your main service panel.
- Expired smoke detectors – The sensor that makes the smoke detector very sensitive to smoke particles will become contaminated by dust and oxidation over time. Smoke detectors need to be checked every year for proper operation and do need to be replaced every ten years. The back of the smoke detector will always have the date of manufacture on it for this reason.
- GFCI outlets need to be regularly tested for proper operation – GFCI outlets are extra sensitive to electrical faults. In order to protect against electrocution in the most dangerous situations, like when water is near electricity such as outdoors and near your bath and kitchen sinks, the breakers in you panel will not protect you. The very components that make the GFCI a sensitive life saving device also make it prone to mechanical failure and as such the GFCI outlets and breakers need to be checked regularly and replaced as necessary.
- Arc fault breakers need to be checked for proper operation – Arc fault breakers are special breakers located in your main electrical panel that will protect against arcs and sparking. For example, if you are hanging a picture and the nail accidentally penetrates a wire inside the wall this will cause arcing (electricity jumping the gap). The nature of this situation is such that it will not trip the breaker in the panel because it is not a short circuit, and the arcing can cause a fire because of the heat. Arc fault breakers are important safety devices that will protect against this but again the nature of the components that make it so sensitive are also more prone to mechanical failure and these arc fault breakers need to be checked regularly.
- The Incoming main electrical service should be regularly checked for wear and tear – Incoming electrical wires can blow in the wind and sway back and forth, causing tension against the supports and gradually loosen. That swaying also causes abrasion on the conductors and can cause the conductors to break or create a situation where the insulation wears off the main incoming wires. In this case you will have intermittent short circuits or an open neutral situation that can put all your appliances at risk due to overvoltage caused by this situation.
A ten year checkup is a good idea. We always will perform a complete inspection with every service call. But if you haven’t needed to call in an electrician for a while, it’s a good idea to have one come in at least every ten years and provide a comprehensive check of your electrical systems. Contact your local Expert Electric to arrange an inspection on your home.