If you're planning on remodeling your kitchen or bathroom or adding a new addition to your home it's important to have an electrician check your existing service to ensure it's ready to handle any additional demands for power. Here are a few points to consider:
1. Is your electrical service up to date? Many older homes still operate with outdated 60-amp electrical service, and sometimes with just a few fuses or circuit breakers to protect the entire system. Newer homes often have 100-amp service panels, but even this minimum requirement set by many current codes may fall short of your present or future needs. Consider upgrading service to 200 amps.
Other potential problems to look out for include an older knob and tube wiring and aluminum wiring. Both are a safety hazard and should be upgraded to meet current electrical codes.
2. Is your service sized for extra demand? If you're installing a large electrical appliance, like an electric oven, a refrigerator or tankless water heater, each will require a 220v outlet. Dedicated circuits are usually the safest option for large appliances.
Many electricians will run 14-AWG wiring during renovations, which is adequate for most home uses. But the heavier 12-AWG copper wire is a better choice because it's more energy-efficient and you won't have to upgrade all over again if you install appliances or fixtures with greater electrical loads. The cost difference for upgrading to the 12-AWG copper wire is minimal. If you're adding a room extension or building a new home, it's a good idea to install 12-AWG wire (or larger, depending on the needs of each circuit).
3. Consider special electrical needs. Different rooms in a home serve different purposes—an important consideration when you're planning improvements, especially where electrical work is involved. Family rooms, home offices, and home theaters generally need more circuits, more outlets. Upgrading to whole home power-surge protection can prevent damage to sensitive electronics. Outlets in kitchens, baths, garages and outdoor areas require ground-fault circuit interrupters or GFCIs. Have small children in the home? Tamper resistant outlets are s must-have upgrade.