Common Electrical Problems in Older Buildings - PTX Electric
Old residential buildings and houses have a unique charm. The classical architecture and timeless design coupled with large corridors and rooms, are no longer as prevalent in modern structures.
But while old buildings can be visually superior, their structural integrity is another story. From the outside, a building or house that’s at least thirty years old may appear in excellent condition, but there are problems from within, including the electrical system.
If you recently moved into an old building for whatever reason, don’t get caught up with the aesthetics – be practical enough to acknowledge that it needs some repairs.
Behind the fancy wall décor and chandeliers are electrical problems that may cause inconvenience and even harm. We’ll talk about these problems in the hope of fixing them as soon as possible. Some problems are fixable, while others may require a total replacement of the electrical system.
1 – Old Light Fixtures
An old light fixture is the classic symbol of an archaic dwelling. You most likely have seen a movie scene where someone enters a haunted house with old light fixtures flickering.
The “flickering” thing is not a product of Hollywood: it’s caused by the outdated design of the fixture and wiring that could have been manufactured in the 1950s. Don’t wait for the day (or night) when you can no longer turn on the light. Replace both the fixture and wiring right away.
2 – Outdated Breaker
An old building would mean an outdated breaker – unless the previous occupants managed to have it replaced before you moved in. It’s not that hard to figure out if the breaker was installed during the construction of the building. If it was several decades ago, then you should replace it sooner than later. When an electrical issue causes the breaker to trip, you’re likely to replace the entire board anyway.
3 – Problematic Electrical Outlets
Faulty electrical outlets and sockets are a major perpetrator of fire incidents in old buildings. Although you don’t see anything wrong from the outside, the fact that they’re old means that something has badly deteriorated inside. A problematic outlet is like a ticking bomb. There’s nothing wrong with being optimistic, but when you move into a building that’s half a century old with no recent electrical renovation, then you must replace all the electrical outlets before disaster strikes.
4 – Faulty Wiring
Wires have evolved over the years, but older buildings with no major electrical problems still use the original wiring. It’s true that old wiring still works, but it’s always a safety hazard. Even an amateur pair of eyes can figure out if the wires must be replaced.
Have a close look at the insulation surrounding the wire – if you see any signs of damage or deterioration, you’ll have to replace it before it becomes a candle’s wick.
5 – Discontinued Service Panels
Aside from outdated breakers, older buildings are equipped with discontinued and obsolete service panels that still use fuse boxes. You probably already know that breaker panels have replaced those fuse boxes. If the building still uses a service panel with fuse boxes, it just shows that a replacement is in order.
Don’t risk using the same electrical setup that relies on fuse boxes, especially when you’re about to install and use modern appliances and devices. Doing so puts the entire building at risk of an overload and fire. Accidents can happen without any warning with those fuse boxes still being used.
6 – Low Electrical Load
Since we’ve mentioned overload, another common electrical issue in older buildings is that of low electrical load. The electrical system in decades-old buildings and houses wasn’t built and designed to accommodate as many appliances, equipment, and gadgets as we use today.
Add to that the fact that we use the heating and cooling unit, electrical outlets for devices, lighting fixtures, and TV at the same time. Imagining what could happen when you try doing it on an old electrical setup is already a frightening thought in itself.
Using many modern devices in an old building with no recent improvement in the electrical system almost certainly leads to an overloaded circuit. The overloaded circuit not only results in permanent damage to the electrical system, but it can also cause a fire. Since the old building where you recently moved in has a low electrical load, it means you have no choice but to replace the entire system.
Anything Electrical Is Not DIY
Unless you’re a licensed electrician, anything that involves the repair, upgrade, or replacement of an old building’s electrical system must be handled by a professional. If you think that the old setup isn’t designed to sustain a high electrical load, then call an electrical contractor for an accurate assessment.
Suppose you notice that the outlets, wiring, or fixtures are deteriorated or problematic in some way. In that case, only a certified electrician can figure out if a repair or replacement is in order. The bottom line is that you’re in no condition whatsoever to handle a job that’s dangerous enough to cause an injury or start a fire.
If you have any questions give us a call at PTX Electric and we will be happy to help. We service Chilliwack Coquitlam, Vancouver, Burnaby and the rest of the Lower Mainland. Contact us today!