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Energy CostsIN CHARLOTTEApril 12, 2022by AndrewWhat a Newer Home Electrical System Might Have Vs. an Older Home

Older homes can have charm, history, great features, unique rooms, be on beautiful land and be less expensive. As for electric systems in old homes, that’s one of the areas that might need work. The electricity on older properties could be out of code, cause other problems or even be a major hazard.

Some homeowners, going back decades or more, maybe kept the grand ol’ house up to code and safe. Then again, maybe not, or maybe that care and attention stopped decades ago. Then, even if you love an older home, you might also want new technology and appliances. New systems and devices use more power and probably need a current electric system, even while in a classic setting. If you have or could be buying an older property, here’s how to check and update or renovate an older home’s electrical system to today’s standards.


When an Old Electrical System is Too Old

If you’re living in a older home, or looking at a new older home, you might not be able to tell an electrical system is outdated. You might not tell just from a walk-through. Most of the system might well still work, or work with a few odd glitches. What’s a funny old glitch? What’s a definite problem? There are signs an old home’s old electrical system needs service and work.

Exposed Wiring

Unless the older home has suffered obvious damage, you probably won’t have or see exposed wiring. Check the basement and attic, though, because exposed wiring is more likely in those spaces. If you find exposed wiring, this is a serious issue to address ASAP. It is a safety and fire hazard. This is a job for a professional electrician.

Two-Prong Outlets

Two-prong outlets definitely mean a home’s electrical system is too old. This outlet, quite literally, won’t fit with modern devices and demands.

What a Newer Home Electrical System Might Have Vs. an Older Home
Two-Prong Outlets

The main issue is safety. An old two-prong outlet is generally not a grounded outlet. The ground part of a modern device protects everything on a circuit from a power surge. So, not only will you have the issue of needing a lot of outlet adapters, which isn’t recommended, a surge while ungrounded is a shock hazard and a risk of destroying more electric appliances or devices in the home. Upgrading two-prong outlets to three-prong around the home is a simple job for an electrician.

Old Electrical Panel

An old electrical panel has fuses. If it’s been maintained properly, and you know what you’re doing currently, it isn’t necessarily a danger in a home. However, most of us won’t be in that category. Modern electric needs increase the chance of blown fuses and shorts. Then, a DIY’r might fix this issue with fuses capable of handling larger power loads. Now the blown fuse issue might be ok, but too much electricity is going through the circuits – with old wiring. The real fix is a new panel and maybe a fully renovated electrical system. Old fuses in the panel box and/or overloaded circuits are fire hazards.

No or Not Enough GFCI Outlets

Newer properties should have GFCI outlets everywhere they are needed. This would mainly be in kitchens and bathrooms; anywhere water is more likely to be near outlets or electric devices. GFCIs are basically circuit breakers, designed to instantly shut off electricity for a circuit, if there’s moisture, a short or a surge. An electrician can install new GFCI outlets everywhere you should have them.

Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and tube wiring can be safe and pass code, if the insulation that should be there is covering the wiring. If insulation has been taken out, has worn or was never there to begin with, then it’s an electric hazard. It has become a frequent enough issue that some insurance companies will not cover a property if it has knob and tube wiring.

Clues a System’s Too Old

It’s important you don’t try to replace or completely inspect a home electrical system yourself. It is a dangerous risk without the right training, experience and equipment. This work should be done by an expert professional.

There are signs you can notice and know when it’s time for you and your system to get help. These things happening mean an old electrical system needs replacing and modernizing.

  • Lights dim or flicker when you use other appliances, fixtures or devices.
  • An electrical panel is warm or hot.
  • You are using multiple power strips, adapters or extension cords or are using them constantly.
  • You’ve built an addition onto the house.
  • You have new, modern, high-power using appliances, systems, HVAC or devices (which didn’t even exist for most or all of the 20th century).
  • The electric panel is from Federal Pacific, GTE, Sylvania, Zinsco or Pushmatic.
  • The circuit breaker trips often.
  • If you have two-prong outlets or are unsure about the grounding of any or all outlets in a home.



When is it a Good Time to Call an Electrician? Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.