Electrical safety is one of those things we as homeowners typically take for granted – never thinking about it until something goes wrong.
When you are tackling a Charlotte home remodeling project, it just makes sense to make certain that your electrical capacity is up to par. After all, gorgeous new fixtures, state-of-the-art appliances, and upgraded lighting won’t do you much good if your electrical infrastructure can’t handle the added load. Unfortunately, electricity is one of those things we as homeowners typically take for granted – never thinking about it until something goes wrong. Since May is National Electrical Safety Month, it seems like the ideal time to look at what goes on behind our walls.
It goes without saying that as your electrician is installing new fixtures and running any new wiring, he or she should check your existing wiring for any visible issues. During a remodeling project is the ideal time to do a safety check, particularly if sheetrock is already breeched to give you access to the wiring behind it. You’d be surprised by how many potential fire hazards we uncover on a regular basis as we are replacing fixtures. Frayed and/or uninsulated wires, faulty connections and more become commonplace as time passes, wiring ages, and other issues go on behind our walls.
What you might not know is that just like any other appliances, some of your electrical junctures have a limited lifespan. Ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, are essential safety features in kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms and required by current Electrical Code. These devices work by breaking the circuit anytime they sense an irregular electrical current flow, thus preventing potential shocks. While they are typically designed to last for about a decade, frequent power surges or electrical storms can cut that lifespan in half.
Regular wall outlets also can be sources of trouble. Look for any visible signs of wear and tear, such as discoloration or heat damage. if you see these, call an electrician to discover what’s going on behind the outlet to cause the damage.
If your entertainment center, office or garage is a jumbled mess of extension cords and surge protectors, it might be time to get help. Check these both for signs of wear frequently and remember that extension cords are designed to be used as a temporary solution. If you are using them often, consider having an electrician come in to install additional outlets. (On a related note, we love placing electrical strips under cabinet overhangs when we are doing kitchen remodels. This continuous strip places outlets right where you need them and tucks them out of the way, leaving you a free expanse of wall for decorative backsplashes.)
If your electrical panel hasn’t been updated in years, or if you are adding substantially to your electrical load with a remodeling project, it’s probably time to consider a panel upgrade. (There’s so much to consider that we’ll devote a future blog to upgrading this necessity, but for now just be aware that a remodeling project might be the ideal time to increase capacity or install an entirely new panel.)
Remember, a renovation project is the ideal opportunity for Charlotte homeowners to give their existing systems a safety check and ensure that they are ready for whatever the future brings.