Electrician, Cook Electric
Written by Larry Cook

Typical Electrical Wiring Problems of Older Homes – Part 1

The electrical wiring problems of an older home may eventually lead to an electrical fire or even prevent you from making a sale you unless you’ve hired an experienced licensed electrician to perform a thorough safety inspection.

As the years go by, typical daily power usage and exposure to the elements will gradually cause the deterioration of an electrical system. Problems developed over the years may become hazards that can start deadly fires after eventually reaching a breaking point.

The following are ten typical electrical wiring problems of older homes that a licensed electrician usually finds during an inspection.

1. Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring was used instead of copper in the 1960s and 1970s because it was less expensive. What builders did not anticipate was the corrosion of aluminum after making contact with copper, which gradually loosens connections and can cause arcing and fires. An electrician would have to retrofit affected electrical fixtures to ensure safety.

2. Backstabbed Wires

Wires pushed into the backs of switches and outlets as opposed to being connected to screw terminals are considered “backstabbed.” This may lead to connections loosening and igniting a fire. The safest approach is having an electrician remove the outlet or switch and connect the wires to their proper terminals.

3. Flickering Lights

Over time the wires supplying electricity from outside become frayed from being exposed to the elements. When it’s windy outside, the lights flicker inside because of shorting and arcing when these frayed wires sway, which may cause a fire. The utility company must be contacted as soon as possible to fix this dangerous problem.

4. Exposed Junction Boxes

Uncovered junction boxes increase the chances of damaged wiring and electrical shock. Finding and buying a replacement cover will not be time-consuming or costly, so it should be purchased immediately.

5. GFCIs Are Missing

Older houses may not have GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets that provide protection from shock and electrocution. They should be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, outdoors, and around swimming pools and hot tubs, where water is present, which poses greater risk of fatal electrical shock. Ask a licensed electrician to install GFCIs to improve safety at your home.

Part 2 will discuss five more older home electrical wiring problems.

Electrical Peace of Mind

Providing professional electricians since 1988 in Maryland, Cook Electric is the company you can rely on for all your electrical service needs. For knowledgeable, fair, honest, reliable, and conscientious service, call Cook Electric today at (410) 266-9040. We will be very glad to help you.