Should You Upgrade Your Home’s Electrical Outlets?

As our homes get older, understand what may need to be upgraded to keep your home and family safe.

If your home was built before 1980, we at Big Bear Electrical Contracting recommend upgrading the electrical outlets.  This can add another level of safety and security and help reduce the event of electrical fires. Hazards like loose connections and outdated electrical codes may need to be addressed. Considering that the median age of a home in the U.S. is 35 years old, it means that many of us are living in, and purchasing, older homes that will eventually require upgrades.

The risk of electrical fires

The danger of an electrical outlet fire is that by the time you see smoke coming from the outlet, fire may already be spreading inside the walls. Loose wires behind the wall can create a situation for an electrical arc to form, which can heat up to 1500 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Wood studded walls and other materials can quickly catch fire and spread. Pulling the plug from the outlet or turning off the switch won’t put out the fire. Electrical fires need to be put out with a Class C (“C” stands for “current”) fire extinguisher; call 911 immediately if you suspect an electrical fire.

When to call Big Bear Electrical Contracting

We are licensed electricians.  We don’t only know how to change out an old and outdated outlet, we know what type of wiring was used in the older home and how to troubleshoot problems. We, at Big Bear Electrical may even notice other issues in the home like an outdated circuitry panel, aluminum wiring or other potential fire hazards. Call us today at 631.760.1997 if you spot any of these issues:

  • brown, black, or discolored outlets or sockets
  • loose sockets that won’t hold a plug
  • smell smoke or burning
  • see sparks when you plug or unplug something
  • when lights flicker or stop working for no reason
  • a circuit that trips often

Other electrical upgrades

Here at Big Bear Electrical Contracting we can also make upgrades that you may not, or should not, be able to do yourself. For example, changing a regular outlet to a GFCI outlet in the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room. We may also recommend adding tamper proof outlets in children’s rooms, or upgrading the switches.  All according to code and your safety level.

New outlets aren’t just for looks

Although updating your electrical outlets is for safety, it’s a great time to change out the colors of the cover plates or add a more modern look to the room, a new outlet adds a level of safety and security to your home. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fires also accounted for nearly one-fifth (18%) of civilian deaths (the second leading contributing factor behind fires caused by heat sources too close to combustibles), 11% of civilian injuries, and accounted for the greatest share of direct property damage (20%) caused by electrical malfunction.  The danger of an electrical fire is the fact that it is considered an uncontained fire, meaning that it can quickly spread from one room to another. Ensuring that your electrical system is up to current electrical code standards, not overloading the system, and regularly testing your smoke detectors, are ways to keep your home and family safe.

Electrical house fires and older homes

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “A strong relationship between housing age and the rate of electrical fires has been observed, with housing over 40 years old having the strongest association with electrical distribution fires.” But new homes are just as susceptible as older homes, as electrical arc fires do not discriminate between old and new construction.

Other preventative tips

Ask us at Big Bear Electrical Contracting about installing an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI), which monitors arc faults in the electrical system. It monitors the electrical current within a circuit and when it detects an arcing fault, it de-energizes the circuit. This device can be expensive; however, it is certainly cheaper than the damage caused by an electrical fire.  Now, The National Electric Code is requiring these types of breakers in homes.

Call us today at 631.760.1997 for a free estimate.  We’re here to help!

Link to Electrical Fire Safety tips:  https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/electrical_fire_safety_vertical.pdf

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