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Why 20th-Century Electrical Systems Fall Short in the 21st

1950s-modern-kitchen-in-21st-century-wilcox-electric-dcEvery electrician knows you need to keep up with the power demand safely and affordably. However, there is no doubt that 20th-century electrical systems - as dreamy and modern as they seemed back then - are no match for the 21st-century homes we want to live in today. Allen Gallant, who does electrical work on This Old House TV projects, says this: “The circuits in these older homes weren't designed to power the many gadgets of modern life.”

Power Demands Technology, Technology Demands Power

Nearly every home has multiple devices that use electrical connections to operate or charge. Among cell phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers, outlets are at a premium and likely filled with surge cords, which puts further demand on the circuit.

Now add the hot tubs and Jacuzzis, swimming pools, electric fireplaces, hot plates, hot pots, hot cups, and more to the drain on your home's power grid. Oh, and how many large screen TVs are in your home? 

You get the picture. Today's demands include things our parents didn't dream of and certainly didn't expect to be mainstream in everyday life. So, today's power circuits in your home need to be capable of handling the advanced technology as well as the increased demand. If you live in an older pre-1980 home, a thorough inspection of your electrical system is wise. It can save you from power loss, fire hazards, and even loss of life. 

What 20th Century Materials Have We Stopped Using?

In addition to upgrading your power access and circuitry to operate all the conveniences of a 21st-century family, many materials used in 1980 and earlier are no longer considered safe to use but may remain in your home. Your older home may still be using any or all these grandfathered materials when new codes are required. While that feels like a bonus at the time, the truth is the outdated materials are still carrying the electrical load in your house. It's time to upgrade and remove the dangers these older materials present. 

  • For many years, aluminum wiring was used for electrical purposes. In the 60s and 70s, aluminum was a less expensive alternative to copper. While it was grandfathered in, there remain problems with aluminum wiring. It is not considered safe. Aluminum corrodes when it touches copper, so arcing can happen and cause sparks, leading to a fire.
  • How about your outlets? Are they all the 3-pronged, hardwired variety? Do you have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets in locations near water or outdoors? Upgrade old outlets to provide the most safety.
  • Even the circuit breaker box may be outdated. Many times, homeowners replaced single-pole circuit breakers with tandem breakers, which carry two circuits. Unfortunately, tandem breakers are not high-amp double pole breakers. Instead, they are overloading your panel and waiting to strike disaster. Your best bet is to upgrade. 

Home Inspections Can Save More than Money

Having a professional, thorough home inspection could save you thousands of dollars – and perhaps more. It could also save lives and improve your family's health. Contact us today to schedule an electrical inspection for your home. Wilcox Electric will make sure your home is safe – and fully wired – for your family. Call (301) 583-8888 or (202) 546-1010 today.