5 Electrical Upgrades to Bring Your Home to Today’s Standards
If you live in an older house, your electrical system may be unable to handle the modern appliances and hi-tech equipment commonly used today. Your electrics could also have deteriorated over time, without you realising.
The power needs of modern homes have changed significantly over the years, and so have electrical safety codes and regulations. For instance, electrical systems in homes built before 1980 may be capable of providing power to outlets, but inadequate for energy-efficient appliances and state-of-the-art electronics.
Old-style fuse boxes can present another problem because they can’t cope with modern energy loads. And a lack of ground fault circuit interrupters can pop your fuses when trying to run more than one appliance at a time. Your home may also have no hardwired smoke alarms, required by code in newer properties.
Here are 5 electrical upgrades to bring your home to today’s standards.
Electrical Upgrade #1 – Smoke Alarms
Most fire-related deaths are a result of breathing in smoke. This makes smoke alarms a crucial but sometimes overlooked piece of equipment to protect your family – and your property.
Most house fire fatalities occur during the night, when you may not be alerted by the smell of smoke as you sleep. Smoke detectors give you vital time to escape a fire. The BC Fire Code requires every home to have working smoke alarms.
Battery-operated smoke alarms are allowed in older homes, but you may prefer a smoke detection system that’s hardwired into your house’s electrical system. This eliminates the possibility of forgetting to check batteries regularly.
The City of North Vancouver says both battery and wired smoke alarms should be replaced every 8 to 10 years. The City of Vancouver requires a smoke alarm outside each bedroom and on every level of your home.
Electrical Upgrade #2 – Electrical Panels
If your home has an outdated fuse panel, it may not be able to handle today’s electrical requirements, resulting in overloading of circuits.
Upgrading your electrical panel will avoid the possibility of putting in wrong-size replacement fuses – a common fire hazard. A new electrical panel will also give you the option of installing additional circuits in the future.
In Vancouver, new electrical panels must be installed by a professional electrician to meet the requirements of Electrical Safety Codes and BC Hydro.
Electrical Upgrade #3 – GFCI Protection
Many people living in older homes choose to have GFCIs – ground fault circuit interrupters – added to their property as an extra safety precaution.
A GFCI – also called a residual current device (RCD) – protects you from electric shock by shutting off power when it senses an imbalance between incoming and outgoing current.
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL) say the number of injuries and deaths from electric shock has dropped through the increasing use of GFCIs.
The Canadian Electrical Code insists that GFCIs are installed in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.
GFCIs also function as conventional circuit breakers by providing protection from overloads and short circuits.
Electrical Upgrade #4 – Arc Fault Protection
Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are designed to prevent fire from electrical arcing. An arc flash occurs when current flows across a gap between conductors. The overheating from arc faults can ignite flammable materials.
Arc fault protection breaks a circuit when it detects a potentially dangerous arc, and it’s been proved to reduce the number of electrical fires.
AFCIs disconnect arc faults that can occur in:
Old electrical systems where insulation has degraded.
The Canadian Electrical Code requires arc fault protection in homes.
Electrical Upgrade #5 – Repair Old Wiring
The risk of fire is always a concern with old wiring. Unless your home is relatively new, a fire hazard may well be lurking out of sight, behind your walls.
Wiring – and particularly its insulation – can deteriorate and become damaged over time. Exposed wires caused by faulty insulation can result in sparking and fire.
Knob-and-tube wiring was being installed in Canadian homes into the 1940s. It struggles to handle today’s electronic technology, and you’ll likely need to upgrade the system – or have your house completely rewired – to meet today’s electrical safety requirements.
Aluminum wiring was used in houses from the mid-60s to mid-70s, and this can be a fire hazard where it meets copper connectors. One solution may be special connectors called aluminum wiring pigtails.
Both knob-and-tube wiring and aluminum wiring can make it difficult to get homeowner’s insurance because of safety concerns.
A further potential issue with old wiring is that it may have been tampered with over the years by amateurs attempting modifications.
Benefits of a Professional Electrical Safety Inspection
A safety inspection by a professional electrical contractor can determine whether your home needs an electrical upgrade to bring it in line with today’s safety standards by minimising the risk of electric shocks and fire.
An electrical safety inspection – and any subsequent necessary repairs – will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your family and property are safe.
An electrical upgrade will also make it easier to get home insurance and can potentially increase the value of your property.
Call us at 604-800-1665 for all your electrical upgrade needs in Metro Vancouver, BC