What it means: A light fixture has a bulb with a higher wattage than the fixture is designed for. Solution: Stay within the wattage limit listed on all light fixtures made since 1985. The damage to socket and wires remains even after the bulb has been removed.What it means: Because a junction box houses the splices where wires are connected to one another, a person could inadvertently damage the wires or get a shock. Solution: Spend a few cents to buy a new cover and install it with the screws provided. Solution: Contact the electric utility, which may replace the weatherhead at no charge. (Today's codes require receptacles within 4 feet of a doorway and every 12 feet thereafter.) Danger level: Minimal, as long as you use heavy-duty extension cords, 14-gauge or thicker.What it means: Frayed wiring in the weatherhead (the outdoor fitting where overhead cables from the power line come into the house) is causing a short whenever the cables move. What it means: Heavy reliance on extension cords and power strips. (The thicker the wire, the lower the gauge number.) Undersize extension cords (16-gauge or smaller) can overheat and ignite a fire if loads are too heavy. Expect to pay an electrician about 0 per first-floor outlet and double that for second-floor work.Compared to older wiring types, non-metallic is safer, easier to work with and doesn’t get hot when surrounded by insulation.One option for removing old wiring is to tear out walls, run new wires and seal everything behind new drywall. A job may land on the low end of the cost range if walls need few cuts and wiring can run through a basement, crawlspace, floor joists and attic.The precise cost will depend on the size and age of your house, the ease with which an electrician can access old wiring, and the quirks that abound in older homes. With something as important, and potentially dangerous, as the system that delivers your home’s electric power, it’s crucial to rely on expert advice.Here’s what electricians who’ve earned top ratings from Angie’s List members tell us: If your home is 50 or more years old, you should at least consider having your wiring inspected by an experienced pro, as it may feature dated knob-and-tube or aluminum wiring components.
The approach you take will depend on your budget, your ability to access the walls, attic, and crawlspace and the level of demolition allowed.
What it means: Increased risk of electrocution in wet areas, such as baths and kitchens. (Codes today require GFCIs within 4 feet of any sink and on all garage, basement, and outdoor outlets.) Danger level: High.
GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters) shut down circuits in 4 milliseconds, before current can cause a deadly shock. Solution: Replace old receptacles with GFCIs (about each).
You should be particularly concerned if you notice any of these signs: • Frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses• A persistent burning smell, sometimes accompanied by a sizzling sound• Charred or discolored outlets and switches Fortunately for homeowners, rewiring is typically a once-in-a-generation home expense.
But considering the risks of improper or outdated wiring, it’s an upgrade you might not want to put off.