Replacing switches and outlets in an older home may sound like an easy task for a home owner to tackle but may be more difficult than expected. You should have this done by a licensed electrician. Some of the issues you may find while replacing these devices in older homes are listed here:
- Equipment grounding conductors or lack of. In the past not all circuits had equipment grounding conductors. Sometimes they used the conduit the circuit conductors were in as the equipment grounding conductor. Sometimes there was simply no equipment grounding conductor present. A licensed electrician will know what conduits can be used as an equipment grounding conductor and which may not be used anymore. It there is no equipment grounding conductor present then a 3-prong outlet should not be installed unless it is GFCI protected.
- Many outlets were split wired. This means there may have been two circuits on one receptacle. When replacing one of these receptacles you want to pay special attention so you do not damage any of your appliances or electronic equipment.
- Many times older switches may look similar to newer switches but they are not. When we replace switches we need to verify where each of the wires are going opposed to simply replacing a switch. This will ensure the switch works properly and does not blow a breaker. If 3-way switching is not re-installed properly the light may not turn on when it is supposed to.
- Other issues we have seen with switches, is sometimes the neutral conductor was switched opposed to the hot wire. This can be dangerous when replacing a light bulb or working in the light fixtures box. If this were the case you would also always have voltage on your the light fixture bulbs which would dramatically shorten the life of the light bulb.
- Wiring methods in the past were different too. You may open up a switch or receptacle box and see different color wiring than you see in today’s homes. This can sometimes confuse homeowners. Many times in the past, power was feed from the light fixtures down to the switch boxes. This is not typically done in today’s wiring methods. This can also confuse home owners when changing out a light fixture.
Give us a call at Edison Electric when you want to upgrade your light switches or receptacles. Our licensed electricians are experts in the wiring in all homes regardless of the age of the home. Call today at 612-385-7864