How to Tell When it’s Time for a Wiring Upgrade

Why consider getting a wiring upgrade?

Wiring upgrades aren’t a fast or easy solution to wiring problems. However, there are times when a whole-house rewiring may need to be done. According to the National Fire Protection Association, faulty wiring is the primary cause of house fires. 

But what circumstances warrant looking into a wiring upgrade? 


Seeing sparks is an emergency. Think of sparks as baby fires. Call an electrician immediately. 

Pre-70’s home

Back when a standard home wiring only had to host four lamps, a 14 inch tv and a toaster, minimal wiring was adequate. Now, that is less than the typical number of electrical items we have in one room. Also, a lot of old wiring was coated with PVC, which can start to rot after a while.

Breakers tripping

When your breakers start tripping on a regular basis, and it isn’t because you put the portable heater, iron, and toaster on at the same time, something is failing. 

Missing GFCI outlets around water sources

The reason GFCI’s became a standard near water sources is because water and electricity make an unruly combination and it’s so easy to miss the fact that you may be standing in a puddle of water when you turn your hair dryer on in the bathroom. Don’t risk it--have GFCI’s installed wherever there is an outlet within six feet of a water source. If you want to pick something to kill you, old age is vastly superior to electrocution. 

Flickering lights

Flickering lights is the fixture version of breakers tripping. The cause of flickering might not even be the wiring; it could be the fixture. But, flickering lights should always be checked out by a professional.

Strange odors or ‘feels’

Sometimes, bad wiring doesn’t ‘show’ you anything. Sometimes it starts with an electrical odor or a slight shock when you touch a wall switch or electrical cord.Those are as big of danger signals as sparks. Even heat around a switchplate should never be ignored. Switches aren’t supposed to ‘warm up’ like a car engine.

Two-prong outlets or an inadequate number of outlets

If your home lacks outlets or has two-prong outlets, rewiring is in order. As much as we appreciate find old antiques, two prong outlets just don’t make the grade and are no longer to code. However, simply swapping them out for a three prong outlet isn't the answer, either. What actually makes the most sense is to replace them with a GFCI, which is even safer. 

Aluminum wiring

During the 70’s when there was a copper shortage, some homes were wired with aluminum wire. There have been some problems as a result. If you have aluminum wiring or even suspect you might, have an electrician check it out for you. 

 Aluminum wire is aluminum-colored.

Aluminum wire is aluminum-colored.

If you have any of the above-mentioned issues, or even an issue which wasn’t listed, call your friendly electrician. Electrical service is so readily available that we sometimes forget how powerful it is, and how easily it can get out of control.