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Updating the Electrical System in an Older Home: An Interview with William D'Ambrosio of D'Ambrosio Electric, Inc.

By William D'Ambrosio

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

Carmine the owner has been doing electrical work for over 40 years and is a graduate of Wentworth in Boston, MA.
William has been doing electrical for over 10 years and is a graduate of New England Technical Institute. The company was formed in January 2004. We specialize in the residential home industry- central air/heat systems, service upgrades, kitchen and bath remodels, smoke alarm systems, knob-and tube-removal, generators, and lighting solutions.

Can you briefly explain what it means to update a house's electrical system?

With today's electrical needs, most homes if not updated in the last 20-30 years is due for an upgrade. The heart of the house is the electrical service panel box- it must be sized correctly of the size house and its electrical needs because of our excessive use today, most homes use a 200 amp service.
Switches and receptacles wear out like the brakes on your car and become loose- to reduce the risk of fires they should be replaced at least every 5-10 years.
Smoke alarm systems should be replaced when the warranty expires which is every 5-10 years.
Make sure any outlets in the kitchen, bathrooms, outdoors, and unfinished basements are GFCI protected to reduce the risk of electrical shock, injury or death.

What are the main reasons that it's important for electrical systems in older homes to be updated?

Most older homes (built in the 1920's- 1960's) have undersized grounds, no grounds in the wiring, as well as knob and tube wiring. For safety reasons, grounds keep something metal from becoming energized if a wire comes in contact with it- the circuit breaker will trip- keeping you from being electrocuted. Older homes also were not designed for modern day electrical needs. We have air conditioners and central air, electric stoves/ovens, several small appliances, electronics throughout the entire house. Older homes had fewer outlets and the wire sizing was not designed for large loads.

How does a homeowner know that their electrical system needs updating?

To start, if they have fuses or 2 prong receptacles in their home. If no permits have every been taken out for remodel work.

What are the benefits of an upgraded home electrical system?

SAFETY. With upgraded electrical systems, you are protected from fires and electrocution- and know you can sleep soundly with your mind at ease. Benefits include: larger panels boxes give you more room for growth and are not undersized, smoke alarms systems will work with power or even when the power is out, you are still protected. The aggravating process of trying to find a bad fuse is now as easy a flipping a switch when it comes to circuit breakers. All your receptacles will be tight and plugs won't fall out. Switches will work every time(unless bulb is bad).

What advice about electricity would you give to people who own older houses?

Our lives literally depend on the safe use of electricity in our homes, and often safety hazards can go unnoticed or unseen. Even what homeowners might think of as a "minor" problem can lead to a devastating fire. In fact, electricity is a leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Keep up with your homes- you don;t buy a car and not maintain it your home is no different; the older the home, the more work it requires.

Each year fires that start in electrical systems or lighting equipment:
* damage more than 24, 000 homes
* kill 320 people
* injure 830 more

In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 50 people die every year from accidental electrocutions involving residential wiring, panel boards, circuit breakers, and outlets. Another 40 electrocutions each year involve household appliances that are connected to the wiring of homes.

By making sure you have a thorough electrical inspection completed by a qualified electrician before buying, selling, or remodeling a home, you can help ensure your home's electrical system operates at the highest level of safety possible.

It is important to you and your family to make sure your home is safe.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

Email or phone:
CRDAMBROSIO@Comcast.net
508-654-2056

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