5 Common Electrical Problems in Older Buildings

There are many things to love about older residential buildings. Not only do they offer an undeniable charm, but they also tend to have larger rooms and hallways that seem to be becoming less and less common in modern buildings.


However, even if an old building appears to be in great condition externally, it’s inevitable that certain problems can arise when you are dealing with the construction that is over a certain number of years old. In this article, we will go over an overview of the common residential electrical problems that are faced by old buildings.


Note: although it can be tempting to use this list to self-diagnose issues that you are currently facing in your building, electricity is one area of home improvement where chances shouldn’t be taken. It is always important that you rely on the services of a residential electrician if your building is in need of repairs.


Common Electrical Buildings in Older Buildings

Before we begin, we should define what we mean by “older buildings”. Although it may come as a surprise, an older building can technically be anything that was built over 45 years ago. So, chances are you may be in the possession of an old building without even realizing it.


1. Dinosaur Light Fixtures

If you are living in a building that was built prior to WWII, there is a good chance that your light fixtures have never been updated. As a result, you may be dealing with a Jurassic mixture of awkward design and touchy wiring. Oftentimes, if you find your old light fixtures are flickering, the day will come where you will not be able to turn the light fixture on at all. If this is the case, your fixture (and wiring) will likely have to be replaced.


2. Archaic Breakers

If you are living in an old building, then chances are that your breaker was first installed many years, or even decades, ago. Given the number of changes that companies overgo over just a small period of time, it’s no surprise that many of the companies that installed breakers in years passed are no longer in business. This means that you will likely need to replace the entire board should a problem arise.


3. Ancient Cables

If you are the owner of an older building, then chances are that you are familiar with the risks of hosting old cables in your walls. However, even if you weren’t dealing with a historic property, it is only a matter of time that a property owner would have to replace the wires of a building. Failing to do so could leave open an opportunity for frayed insulation, which could then lead to an electrical fire.


4. Unreliable Outlets

It would be very unusual to come across a building today that didn’t have modern electrical sockets. After all, the electrical socket was invented more than a century ago — in 1904, to be exact! However, even though your electrical outlets may appear to be normal on the outside, if they’re old, chances are that there might be something malfunctioning on the inside. If this is the case, they will have to be completely replaced.


Also, while it is the standard to have three-pronged sockets in today’s homes, this was not the case in years past. If you are dealing with old outlets, chances are that you will not have the third prong. Although this is not necessarily a safety issue, it could be an inconvenience if you often use three-prong (grounded) plugs.


5. Old Wiring Types

The 60s and 70s may be known as the golden age of many things, from music to dance clubs to horror movies, however, there is one thing that did not thrive in this era: wiring. During this time, those constructing buildings opted to use aluminum wiring, as it was considered just as safe at the time while also being much cheaper. However, nowadays we recognize the danger of aluminum wiring, which means that it is likely wise to switch out your aluminum wiring for a safer alternative as soon as possible.


Residential Electrician Services From BPM Electric

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of owning an old building, you are not alone. BPM Electric employs skilled and professional electrical contractors in the Vancouver area, including locales such as Abbotsford, Langley, Chilliwack, and Surrey.