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Updating the Electrical System in an Older Home: An Interview with David Burke of Cypress Electric, LLC

By David Burke

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

Cypress Electric has been in business since 2000. Prior to starting my own business, I worked for Sea Island Electric on Kiawah Island for several years. We have grown from a "one-man show" to five field electricians. We perform service & repair calls, wiring & component upgrades, large & small renovations and new construction projects up to 7000 sq ft.

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

Usually, an update will include such items as: installing smoke detectors, GFCI receptacles in kitchens, bathrooms & garage/exterior locations, additional grounded circuits (3-prong receptacles) for appliances, office equipment and entertainment centers and. In older homes, built in the 1970s and earlier, it may also entail replacing the electrical meter, panel and service wire to increase the electrical capacity of the building from 60 or 100 Amps to 150/200 Amps. Those older services are inadequate for the energy demands of today's homes.

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

Many older homes have 2-wire systems without the grounded receptacles (3-prong) required for most modern appliances and equipment. There are not enough receptacles in these homes for all the new electrical items we use today either. We see all kinds of unsafe adaptations done to make 21st century technology and convenience work in 1960s homes. Surge protectors are not effective without proper grounding inside the house or at the meter either.

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

The following occurrences can be indicators that a home's electrical system needs updating: tripping breakers/blown fuses caused by overloaded circuits, dimming/flickering lights, either intermittently, or when an appliance or HVAC unit turns on and having to use adapters at wall receptacles, the absence of smoke detectors and GFCI receptacles. There are also the visual cues of deterioration and corrosion at the meter and service lines. Also, most electrical contractors will conduct a basic visual inspection and take a few meter readings for a modest fee if you advise them of your concerns.

What are the benefits of an upgraded home electrical system?

Safety and reliability foremost. Daily convenience and the ability to expand as well. In a nutshell; Peace of mind.

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

If you have anything going on, electrically, that is a concern, PLEASE call an electrician to look at things. If you are not comfortable with them or what they tell you, get another opinion. Don't let anyone sell you surge protection as a cure-all without also doing other fundamental repairs or upgrades AND telling you what the ground resistance reading is at your grounding rod (it should be in the earth under your electrical meter). It needs to be <25 Ohms for surge suppression to work and for your electrical system to be able to clear those faults, spikes and surges.

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

Phone/Text: (843) 729-7242

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