What Are The 5 Best Electrical Upgrades And Improvements?
If you live in an older house, your electrical system might not be able to handle the most commonly used modern appliances and hi-tech equipment today. Over time, your electrics might have also deteriorated, without you realizing.
Over the years, the power needs of modern homes have changed considerably, and so have electrical safety codes and regulations. For example, electrical systems in homes built before 1980 may be capable of providing power to outlets but inadequate for state-of-the-art electronics and energy efficient appliances.
Old-style fuse boxes can present another problem, as they are unable to cope with modern energy charges. And when attempting to run more than one appliance at a time, a lack of ground fault circuit interrupters will light up the fuses. There may also be no hardwired smoke alarms on your home, required by code in newer properties.
Here are 5 electrical upgrades to bring your home to today’s standards.
Electrical Upgrade #1 – Smoke Alarms
Many of the fire-related deaths were a result of smoke breathing. This makes smoke alarms a crucial, but occasionally overlooked piece of equipment to protect your family – and your property.
Most house fire fatalities occur during the night, when the smell of smoke may not alert you while you sleep. Smoke detectors give you essential time to flee a fire. The BC Fire Code requires Working Smoke Alarms from every home.
Battery-operated smoke detectors are allowed in older homes, but you would prefer a smoke detector device that is hardwired into the electrical network in your building. That reduces the risk of having to periodically test batteries.
The City of North Vancouver says they will upgrade both battery and wired smoke detectors every 8 to 10 years. Vancouver City requires a smoke alarm outside of every bedroom and at every level of your home.
Electrical Upgrade #2 – Electrical Panels
Unless your home has an obsolete fuse panel, may may not be able to handle the electrical requirements of today, resulting in circuit overloading. Upgrading the electrical panel will eliminate the risk of installing fuses in the wrong size-a can fire hazard. A new electric panel would also provide you with the option to mount additional circuits in the future.
In Vancouver, a licensed electrician must install new electrical panels to meet Electrical Safety Standards and BC Hydro specifications.
Electrical Upgrade #3 – GFCI Protection
Many people living in older homes chose to have GFCIs – ground fault circuit interrupters – installed as an extra safety measure to their property. A GFCI – also referred to as a residual current device (RCD) – protects you from electric shock by shutting off power when it detects an incoming and outgoing current difference. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL) state the number of electric shock accidents and fatalities has fallen as GFCIs are widely being used. The Canadian Electrical Code insists on the installation of GFCIs in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. GFCIs also function as conventional circuit breakers by providing overload and short circuit protection.
Electrical Upgrade #4 – Arc Fault Protection
Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are designed to prevent electric arcing fire. When current flows through a gap between conductors, an arc flash occurs. The arc faults overheating may ignite flammable materials. Arc fault safety breaks a circuit when it detects a potentially harmful arc, and the number of electrical fires has been proven to be reduced. AFCIs disconnect arc faults that can occur in:
- Damaged wiring.
- Loose terminals.
- Old electrical systems where insulation has degraded.
- The Canadian Electrical Code requires arc fault protection in homes.
Electrical Upgrade #5 – Repair Old Wiring
Fire danger is still a problem with old cabling. Unless your home is relatively new, there might be a fire hazard lurking behind your walls, out of sight.
The wiring – and especially its insulation – can deteriorate over time and become damaged. Sparking and fire can result from exposed wires caused by a faulty insulation.
Starting in the 1940s, knob-and-tube wiring was installed in Canadian homes. It fails to accommodate the modern technology of today, so you will probably need to update the device-or get your house fully rewired-to meet the electrical safety standards of today.
From the mid-60s to the mid-70s, aluminum wiring was used in houses and this may be a fire hazard where it meets copper connectors. One option may be different connectors, or pigtails for aluminum wiring.
Because of safety concerns, both knob-and-tube wiring and aluminum cabling can make it difficult to get homeowner insurance.
Another possible problem with old cabling is that amateurs attempting modifications might have tampered with it over the years.
Considering Electrical Upgrades and Improvements for Your Home?
At Frontline Electrical Services we love helping our clients feel safe and secure in their homes and businesses. If you are in the Benicia, Walnut Creek or Fairfield, California or surrounding areas, contact us today at 800-945-0268 (here is a map to our location) and we’ll have one of our certified specialists review your home’s current electrical grid and give you the best upgrades possible to suit your needs while maintaining the safety and security of your property!