With home electronics so much more prevalent than they once were, the electrical systems in old homes often need upgrades. For example, they may need a modern panel and more outlets. In fact, outlets are among the most common residential electrical installs today. But, installing more outlets in an old house is not as straightforward as many believe. Here are some things you should expect from the installation process.

Upgrade to Grounded Outlets

If your current wall outlets are two-prong, they should be upgraded to three-prong grounded outlets. Grounded outlets help to prevent dangerous electrical shorts, which is important to protect electrical appliances and to prevent fires.

In this case, your electrician may need to add a grounding conductor to the wiring within the walls. This additional ground wire is necessary for grounded receptacles. However, if the metal box that houses each receptacle is grounded, additional wiring may not be necessary.

Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

To add more outlets, your electrician will need to determine whether or not your panel can handle additional circuits. Sometimes, new outlets can be wired to an existing, underused circuit. However, you should also be prepared to install a new, modern panel that has ample circuits to meet your needs.

Also, modern households run more appliances, so you may need to upgrade your electrical panel to handle that increased load. This will ensure safety and help to prevent outages and electrical fires.

Check Walls and Crawl Spaces

During residential electrical installs, your electrician may also need access to your attic or crawlspace to run wire. They’ll also need to cut holes in the walls to place the new electrical outlets. This may involve pulling up baseboards and cutting through the plaster. Residential electrical installs often also can involve replastering and repairing walls. This is especially true of very old homes with lathe and plaster interior walls.

Expect the Unexpected

An electrician can come across many unexpected electrical issues in an old house. In fact, the older your house is, the more unexpected issues you can expect. For example, your electrician may find disconnected live wires hidden in the walls. Or, they might find rodent nests or termite damage around electrical systems. It’s very common to find that you not only need additional wall outlets, but an entire electrical system upgrade. While that might not have been in your original plan, it might be necessary to bring your home up to code.

Renovating and modernizing an old home can be very rewarding. However, once you begin the work, you’ll likely end up doing more than you expected. But in the end, you’ll have a home full of character and ready to make history with you and your family.

By Anita Ginsburg

Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn't writing.

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