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Hidden Electrical Hazards in Older Homes: What to Look Out For

May 14, 2024
Hidden Electrical Hazards in Older Homes: What to Look Out For

The charm of older homes beckons many Australian homeowners, for good reason as there’s a certain allure to the character and craftsmanship of these properties.

However, along with their vintage appeal often come vintage and hidden electrical hazards that can pose serious risks if left unaddressed.

Some things may be overlooked when first viewing a property, after falling in love with certain features the idea of dangerous electrical wiring may fall completely to the wayside once those rose-tinted glasses have come on. 

That’s why we’ve put together a guide of things to consider when it comes to an older properties’ electrical wiring, so put down those glasses for just a moment before thinking about what colour to paint the living room. 

Ageing Wiring and Outdated Outlets

Of course, with an older property, one of the more prevalent issues is ageing wiring. Depending on the age of the property, the electrical work has probably been there since it was built; it can be hard to tell exactly.

However, the important thing to know is that, over time, wiring can deteriorate due to wear and tear, leading to potential fire risk.

Additionally, these outdated outlets may not be properly equipped to handle modern electrical loads, increasing the risk of electrical shocks and fires. 

Signs to Look Out For 

There are some tell-tale signs that the electrical wiring of a property has aged past its use by date. Have you spotted any of the following around your home recently? 

Flickering Lights 

Lights that flicker or dim frequently could be a sign of faulty wiring or overloaded circuits. 

Buzzing Outlets or Switches 

A buzzing sound emanating from outlets or switches COULD be a bee – but is most likely an indication of loose wiring or other electrical issues. 

Charred Outlets of Switches 

Discolouration or charring around outlets or switches suggests overheating and should be addressed immediately. 

Burning Smells

Persistent burning smells, especially near outlets or electrical panels, signal potential wiring problems and should not be ignored. 

Speaking of old electrical panels…

Old Electrical Panels 

Hidden Electrical Hazards in Older Homes: What to Look Out For

Another common blight of older homes that may crop up is outdated electrical panels. Electrical standards and safety are always being revised to adhere to best practices, however, older panels may not meet current safety standards and as a result, may lack the capacity to support modern electrical demands, increasing the risk of electrical fires and system failures.

It is reasonable to assume that a property with wiring from the 60s may not be able to cope with the number of domestic electronic devices and appliances that are common in households today. 

Tips for Inspection

So now you’re having a look around your electrical panel and trying to discern exactly how aged it is. What should you be looking for upon inspection? 

Check Panel Age 

The first step should be to determine the age of your electrical panel. Panels older that 20-30 years may be outdated and in need of replacement. 

Inspect for Rust or Corrosion 

Rust or corrosion on the panel enclosure or circuit breakers indicates moisture infiltration and potential damage to the electrical system.

Look for Overcrowding

If circuit breakers are overcrowded or if multiple wires are connected to a single breaker, it could indicate an overloaded electrical panel.

Addressing Hidden Electrical Hazards

Now you’ve become more knowledgeable in identifying electrical hazards in older homes, the next thing to do is know how to address these issues promptly to ensure the safety of the occupants and protect the property from potential damage.

This is where it becomes essential to involve the expertise of a qualified electrician, as trying to fix the problems yourself may lead to further injury and fire safety hazards. 

Why is it Important to Hire a Private High Voltage Electrician?

For homeowners in Australia grappling with ageing wiring, outdated outlets, or old electrical panels, seeking the assistance of a private high voltage electrician is most important.

These professionals, such as Wilken, who are growing NSW market leaders in the Electrical Contracting, Engineering, Contestable Works – ASP/1 (Accredited Service Provider) and Private High Voltage market.

Professionals such as these specialise in inspecting, diagnosing, and addressing electrical issues in residential properties. This is the best way to ensure any residential property, old or new, is compliant with Australian electrical standards and regulations. 

Key Points to Take Away

It can be rewarding to own an older home, to keep those period features and character that truly fits your personal style and stand out a little from the new build designs, but it’s essential to be aware of potential electrical hazards lurking beneath the surface.

By understanding the signs of ageing wiring, outdated outlets, and old electrical panels, homeowners can be proactive in their steps to safeguard their families and their properties. 

Most importantly, when it comes to electrical safety, is to always enlist the help of a qualified professional.

Many things can, and do, go wrong when unqualified people attempt to do their own electrical wiring.

However, an expert can address hidden electrical hazard and you get to enjoy peace of mind knowing that your home is definitely safe and secure and meets modern health and safety compliance standards. 

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