3 Common Problems With Electrical Outlets In Older Houses And Why You Should Fix Them

The electrical system in your older home might not be designed to suit your needs today, but there are ways to fix the problems you have. One of the common problems in older homes lies within the electrical outlets. Here are three common problems you may have with your home's electrical outlets, and the reasons you should hire an electrician to fix these for you.

Ungrounded Outlets

Years ago, electrical outlets were designed to power devices with two prongs, whereas today they are designed to accommodate three. If your home has any outlets that still have only two prong holes, you may want to have these replaced by an electrician.

These old, two-prong outlets can be very inconvenient for your life today because a lot of electrical devices have cords with three prongs. Not only is this inconvenient, but these old outlets may also be dangerous to use.

The third prong in newer outlets is designed for grounding purposes. This prong provides a grounding path for the electrical currents running to and from the line, and it protects you from getting shocked.

One of the first steps an electrician will take when replacing these receptacles is to determine if the outlet box is grounded, and there is a good chance that it is. If the box is made of metal, it may be grounded. If this is the case, the electrician will be able to wire in a new three-prong outlet that will offer grounding protection for you.

If the box itself is not grounded, the electrician may have to replace it too. Electricians determine if grounding is present by testing the wires in the outlets with a small testing device.

Insufficient Amount of Outlets

Not only may some of your outlets contain only two prong holes, but you may find that you do not have enough outlets in the house. Years ago people didn't have a lot of electrical devices, and this is why old homes have very few outlets in each of the rooms.

If your home is like this, you probably rely on using extension cords and power strips to power your devices, but this is not always a safe thing to do. Loading up the outlets with too much power may cause electrical failure, or it could cause a fire. The only solution you have is to have an electrician add more outlets to your home.

This job is more work than fixing outdated outlets because it will require running wire through the walls. Electricians can snake wires through most walls in a house, and this is the only way to add more outlets to your home.

There are numerous electrical codes today that are used for new construction, and these codes dictate where outlets should be placed. One of the rules is that outlets should be spaced six feet apart, which means that a 20-feet long wall will have at least three outlets on it. You may have a wall this long in your home that has only one outlet, or maybe it doesn't have any.

By adding more outlets, you will have a safer way to power all your electrical devices in your home, and it will make it more convenient to plug things in.


The third common problem with older homes is a lack of ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). A GFCI is the type of outlet you will find in your bathrooms, near your kitchen sink, and by your washing machine. In fact, today in new construction, GFCIs must be placed near all sources of water, but this was not always a rule.

GFCIs protect against shocks caused by the combination of water and electricity. If a person is about to get shocked while using an electrical device, the GFCI automatically cuts off the electrical supply to that outlet.

In 1973, GFCIs become mandatory for certain parts of homes, and they are still an important part of electrical safety today. If your kitchen and bathrooms do not have these, hire an electrician to install them for you as soon as possible.

These three electrical problems can be fixed, and you may want to consider getting these things fixed sooner rather than later. Old electrical systems in homes is a leading cause of house fires, and you can protect your family by talking to an electrician like Nicholas Electric Co today.