When it comes to electricity use in your home, you're probably more concerned with the items that consume electricity – such as your appliances, home computer, video game console and smartphone – than you are with the system that delivers the electricity. But caring for and, if necessary, repairing the electrical system is vital to the safety of your home – particularly if it's an older home – and more importantly, to the safety of everyone inside.
Watch Your Wiring
Electrical wiring should last for many years, but it's not immortal. Beyond a certain point, old wiring can become a fire hazard. Have your wiring inspected if your home is more than 40 years old, if you've had major renovations performed, or if you've added new major appliances. Also, if your fuses or circuit breakers blow out more frequently than they once did, or your lights often dim for no apparent reason, have your electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician to determine if your wiring should be repaired or upgraded.
Install Safer Outlets
When you upgrade your system, also consider changing the electrical outlets. If you have young children, tamper-resistant outlets can help keep them safe. You can also upgrade to ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets, particularly in bathrooms and other damp areas. GFCI outlets shut down the electrical flow when they detect electricity leaks, known as ground faults, which cuts your risk of suffering an electrical shock. Indeed, GFCIs are now required in new outdoor, bathroom, whirlpool and swimming pool construction throughout Canada.
Break the Fuse Box Habit
Another potential danger in older houses is the use of fuse boxes rather than circuit breaker boxes. Although a properly functioning fuse box is safe, an old fuse box won't function forever. And because fuse boxes haven't been installed in new homes for many decades, if you have a fuse box, you know that it's old. Additionally, today's circuit breakers are designed to deal with the increased number of electrical devices commonly used in the 21st century. More specifically, an arc-fault circuit interrupter, which is designed to shut down faulty circuits before they cause a fire, is now required to be installed in most Canadian homes.
Protect Your Home
If you have an electrical repair or upgrade performed, don't limit your safety considerations to the inside of your home. While performing the upgrade, an electrician can install motion sensor lights on your home's exterior. As the name indicates, these lights will only turn on when the sensor detects motion. This setup helps keep your home safer from potential intruders who wish to work in the dark, while saving you money, since the lights will be off most of the time.
From 2009-13, there were an average of 677 electrical fires per year in Ontario alone, more than two-thirds of which occurred in homes. By upgrading your system, you reduce the chance of becoming a statistic yourself. If you'd like to have more information about what kind of electrical upgrades may be best for your home, check it out here or speak with a professional electrician.
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