Depending on the age of your home, you could be due for an electrical upgrade. In recent years the number of appliances and devices that people use has steadily increased, and the existing wiring may not be adequate for either safety or convenience.
Signs you may need an upgrade include:
- Frequent circuit breaker tripping. If one or more circuit breakers trips when the electrical loads are higher, you may be overloading that particular circuit. Acircuit breaker that trips when you use a hair dryer or other device that pulls a lot of power might be inadequate. Breaker failure is less common, but it does happen. Your electrician can assess the condition of the breaker.
- Insufficient outlets. The excessive use of power strips or extension cords indicates you may not have enough electrical outlets in any particular room. Current electrical codes require one outlet for every 12 feet of wall space. Most cords are six feet long, and this outlet requirement eliminates many safety hazards.
- Adding a major appliance. If you’re adding an appliance that has uses a lot of electricity, like a dryer, extra dishwasher, stovetop, or refrigerator, chances are you’ll need an electrical upgrade. Converting from a gas to an electric dryer or stove will require a dedicated and specialized outlet.
- Aluminum wiring. Homes built between the 1960s and mid 1970s may have aluminum wiring. A copper shortage drove builders to use aluminum in place of copper to cut construction costs. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that homes with some or all aluminum wiring were 55 times more likely to experience an electrical fire.
If you can access the place where wires enter your home, look for printing on the insulation that says aluminum, CL-clad, or Romex. If you see either, consider upgrading your wiring. Electricians can have developed safe ways to eliminate the safety hazard without replacing all the wiring with copper.
An electrical upgrade keeps your home up-to-date as you add appliances and devices to your home. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Electrical, providing trusted HVAC and electrical services for Portland-area homeowners.