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Allen Spearman shares top considerations for upgrading old electrical systems

electrical systems

Allen Spearman shares tips for completing the best upgrade of existing electrical system components.

Upgrading electrical components can be a costly investment. Still, it is essential for the long-term safety of a home and also to maximize resale value for homeowners contemplating a move in the future. Contractor Allen Spearman is well-versed in historical renovations for residential and commercial real estate and has multiple tips to help ensure the success of a project.

Identify any high-draw requirements

To make the most of your electrical system upgrades, it’s important to consider how electricity is used in the home now and the future. Many households have a handful of high-draw appliances, such as furnaces, air conditioning units, dryers, microwaves, and stoves. These appliances require additional capacity, particularly when they are first powered on, and standard household wiring plans incorporate these elements into the system requirements.

However, some homeowners may have additional needs. For example, a hobbyist welder or a carpenter by trade would need additional capacity, according to Allen Spearman. A home with multiple kitchen or laundry areas also needs additional considerations. An expert electrician will discuss the basics before developing a plan for upgrades. However, some contractors may not check in about work demands or hobbies, so be ready to share any additional concerns or considerations.

Plan for any construction requirements

A well-designed older home often has crawl spaces and access panels that make upgrading electrical systems easier. However, some spaces are not designed to accommodate these changes. In these instances, an electrical upgrade requires more planning, such as removing sections of drywall and creating access through an attic and fishing wires from different locations as much as possible. These workarounds are time-consuming, add expense, and can require bringing in other contractors based on the home and electrician used, Allen Spearman advises. It’s important to think ahead, budget for these concerns, and consider if other upgrades are best tackled while wall cavities are open. These can include plumbing and installation upgrades and other improvements.

Review aesthetic necessities

Allen Spearmen recommends planning for the most modern, efficient electrical upgrades possible within code behind the scenes while honoring the aesthetic of an older property in the home’s living areas. For historic properties, this means choosing light switches and electrical plates that fit in with the existing decor or honor the construction period. For homes where electricity was not a concern at the time of building, choosing fixtures with an antiqued look or that blend in as a neutral fixture with wallpaper or paint colors helps mute the effect.

Choose the right electrician and contractor

Wiring in older homes may have been upgraded to more modern standards at different times, but some residential real estate can still have wiring — either full or in part — from decades ago, such as knob and tube wiring and a fuse panel. In these instances, a complete overhaul is needed, and an experienced electrician is best suited to evaluate the old system, remove outdated components and install all new wiring. Look for a certified electrician and ask for references to determine if a person or company is the right fit.

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