Updating the Electrical Wiring for Your Home

The process of updating your electrical wiring for your home can be extremely stressful. This is because the average person really does not know a lot about electricity and does not know how to begin when it comes to wiring. There are a few important things every homeowner should keep in mind when it comes to updating the electrical wiring throughout their home. Failure to keep up with this important part of home maintenance could end in disaster.

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There are a few key signs that it may be time to start thinking about updating your electrical wiring throughout your home. A burning smell could be a sign of a dangerous electrical problem and should always be addressed as quickly as possible. Another sign of an issue is if the lights are flickering for no obvious reason or if outlets throw sparks when appliances are plugged into them. Additionally, if a fuse blows, it is best to have the wiring checked out instead of assuming that it was a one-time issue. Any one of these issues, which may not seem like a big deal at the time, could be a symptom of an underlying problem that could lead to major trouble down the road.

Although these are the most common signs of a problem with the electrical wiring, it may be necessary to have the home checked out even in the absence of these issues. If a home is more than forty years old and has never had the electrical wiring updated, it is definitely time to have someone come and take a look at it. This is not only a matter of keeping the lights in good working order but also a safety issue. Old electrical wiring can become faulty and cause a dangerous house fire. Do not assume that the wiring in the house is in good working condition just because there does not appear to be a major problem on the surface.

To avoid a problem before it becomes a serious issue, it is a good idea to have the electricity in the home inspected each year. This should be done at around the same time each year and many people choose to include it in their spring-cleaning routine. A licensed electrician will be able to take a look at the wiring and identify any potential problems before they become full-blown issues. They may also have suggestions as to how the electricity in the home could be run more efficiently, saving energy and money for the homeowner.

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Updating the wiring in a home is also a good opportunity to add anything new that the homeowner may have been considering. For example, someone may want overhead recessed lighting in their family room but may not have ever taken the time to look into it. At the same time that the wiring is being updated, it is easy for an electrician to go in and set up the space for that additional lighting.

If a home is more than forty years old, the owners should absolutely look into updating the electrical wiring. Even if there are no signs of a problem, such as sparking outlets or a strange burning smell, there is a chance that the wiring is outdated and therefore, dangerous. This important job should be done by a professional and should never be taken on by a homeowner who is not properly trained to work with electricity. To avoid a serious electrical problem before it begins, have a professional electrician in each year to inspect the wiring and make sure that it is in safe working condition.

Outdoor Lighting Adds That Special Touch

Who among us has not gotten into the car and driven around another neighborhood just to admire the holiday lights and decorations? All of us love the glow of icicle lights hanging from deck rails, the romantic warmth that comes with festive lighting. Yet, inexplicably, most of us limit outdoor lighting to the holiday season, fully enjoying our decks and yards for just a few hours every day.

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Let There Be Light

Increasingly, however, people are choosing to light up the great outdoors year round, appreciating not only the look but also the safety that comes with it. Illuminating walkways helps to prevent slips and trips, safeguarding the family from harm and protecting the homeowner from legal liability should someone else fall. Light at entrances not only keeps the wrong people from approaching them but also lets homeowners see who is out there before opening the door.

The added security offered by outdoor lighting makes a great argument for doing something that homeowners want to do for other reasons. Wanting either to show off beautiful landscaping or make the deck more functional, homeowners are right to justify the project with its safety benefits. Still, it is more than likely the romantic dinners and summer parties on the deck that spill into the backyard that motivate the change.

Leave It to a Pro

There is no denying the special ambiance that comes with the right outdoor lighting, and a wide range of options exists. Downlights for paths, up-lighting for decks, colored fluorescents…all are available, and a professional electrician can help the homeowner to determine the best choices. As important to landscaping as the right choice of grasses and flowers, outdoor lighting systems should be well planned and properly installed.

Not exactly like stringing Christmas lights from the roof, permanent outdoor lighting needs to be handled by an electrician. The rewards, however, are numerous, starting with the extended usefulness of decks and yards, illuminating them for night-time enjoyment. The charm of light softly glowing here and there throughout the yard adds a special touch to the beauty of the home year round.

Outdoor Lighting: DIY vs. A Licensed Electrician

Most homeowners would not consider installing their own indoor electrical systems, recognizing the importance of having a professional handle the task. Yet, strangely, many homeowners attempt to install outdoor lighting themselves, as if electricity weren’t involved. While that may be the case for low budget, low performance, solar powered decorative lamps, it is not so for a comprehensive outdoor lighting system.

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Gaining in popularity, outdoor lighting is becoming a feature sought by homeowners and prospective home buyers alike. Extending the usefulness of decks and yards well into the evening, pretty outdoor lights beautify the home’s exterior and make garden parties possible after dark. Outdoor lighting, however, not only adds charm to the home and illuminates attractive landscaping, but also significantly improves home security.

Indeed, enhanced security is one of the primary benefits of outdoor lighting, sharply reducing the likelihood that a home will be burglarized. Lighting at windows and doors as well as the illumination of potential hiding spots behind bushes and hedges discourages would-be intruders. This practical reason for having a licensed electrician install an outdoor lighting system allows homeowners to indulge their simple desire for the beauty it brings.

It is important to involve a professional electrician in the installation of any outdoor lighting system for several reasons. Cables need to be buried, not only because they are unsightly but because if they can be seen, they can be cut by intruders. Transformers have to be appropriate to the total wattage provided, and distances to fixtures have to be properly calculated. Timers and photosensitive cells that activate lights with darkness have to be properly wired, as do motion activated security lights.

Nonetheless, the safety and security it adds to the home is well worth it, especially given the beauty it brings to decks and yards. Well-lit paths and steps reduce the chances for slips and falls, both by family members and strangers. With so many benefits, the popularity of outdoor lighting is easy to understand, even if trying to do it yourself makes no sense at all.

Don’t Change That Ceiling Fan, Call an Electrician

Installing a ceiling fan often seems like a simple do it yourself project. After all, how hard can it be to hook up a fan, right? Unfortunately, they are not quite as easy as one would think and because they can require electrical installations and/or adjustments, it is best to call on a certified electrician for its installation.

First, let’s look at some of the tools and supplies needed for this job. If you don’t have them, you are going to have to go out and buy them. Some of these supplies and tools are not cheap and if you are not going to use them again, why spend the money?

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  • Claw hammer
  • Cable ripper
  • Bonding screws
  • Electrical boxes
  • Switch covers
  • Compass saw
  • Stud locator

If these items are not in your toolbox already or you simply do not know for what they are used, this job may be just a bit too much to undertake at this time.

While having to purchase new tools and supplies is one reason to let a professional handle this job, the fact that you would be working with live electricity is the most important reason to call a licensed electrician. There is definitely the need to tap into existing wiring and if the current load is at its limit, you may need to add additional breakers to the current breaker box. Is this something you are prepared to do?

Tasks such as this that seem simple are often when do it yourselfers do the most damage to their homes. This is especially true when electricity becomes involved. Older homes may not be up to code, but it is unlikely the average DIYer will know the difference. If there is ever one area of the home where you are best served to use a licenses professional, it is when dealing with electricity.

Electrical Fire Safety

Far too many homeowners are under the impression electrical work is the perfect DIY project. While there may be some tasks that you can do on your own, in most cases it is better to call in a licensed electrician. Here are some facts, figures, and tips regarding electrical fire safety.

Overloaded surge protector is a fire hazard

Electrical Fire Safety Facts and Figures

  • Typically, over $1 billion in damages is realized in property loss every year due to electrical fires.
  • Over 26,000 deaths occur every year in fires caused by electrical problems.
  • The holiday season (December and January) show the highest concentration of electrical fires.
  • Wiring that has been “fixed” is one of the largest culprits of home fires. This is especially disturbing because few of these fixes are actually done by an actual electrician.
  • Problems with light bulbs and light fixtures are among the leading causes of fires.
  • Improper maintenance, overloading of circuits, and the misuse of electrical cords are a significant cause of “avoidable” electrical fires.
  • More residential fires are started in the bedroom, but the most deaths occur in fires that are started in living areas of the home (such as the dining room or living room).
  • While system failure is the cause of some home fires, in most cases, it is due to improper wiring and the overloading of circuits (a common mistake for DIY homeowners).

Electrical Fire Safety Tips

  • Extension cords should not be used on a permanent basis. They are meant for temporary power only. If you are using one for something specific that is in use all the time, you should have extra outlets  installed in that location.
  • Never use an extension cord for a major appliance, always plug them directly into an outlet.
  • All power strips and surge protectors should feature overload test label.
  • Check wiring on all appliances several times a year. Schedule it during daylight savings time to make it easy to remember. Any damaged or frayed wiring should be replaced immediately.
  • Any electrical tool causing sparks, electrical shorts, shocks, or that overheats should be replaced.
  • Always use the recommended wattage light bulb for your fixtures.
  • Never force a three-prong plug into a two-pronged outlet. Use an adapter or use the proper outlet.
  • All electrical work should be performed by a licensed electrician.