Your home's electrical system is probably one of those things that you take for granted until something goes wrong. You may have gotten by over time by hiring the local jack-of-all-trades to correct any issues that may have occurred.
However, you may be beginning to experience minor inconveniences that indicate that your old electrical system could use some upgrades. Your home and your family may also be in danger from old or poorly installed electrical components.
Inspect your electrical system for necessary upgrades, hazardous conditions, and shoddy electrical work.
Both you and your home may be getting a little older, but you are not stuck in the 1950's when everyone gathered around a single TV and most rooms contained only one electrical outlet. If your home is outlet deprived, have additional circuits added.
Of course, you can only have additional lines added if your fuse box or breaker box has the capacity to power them. If you still have a fuse box in your home, it’s almost certain that you need an upgrade.
Check the main fuses or breakers for their amp ratings, which is the number printed on them. If their total amperage is less than 100 amps, you are probably using the total capacity of your electrical system even if you don't use many higher powered appliances such as an electric stove, dryer, or central air conditioner.
Your fuse box or breaker box may be sufficiently powered but filled to capacity with fuses or breakers. This means having a sub-panel installed to accommodate more circuits.
Upgrading the amperage in the main panel or adding a sub-panel will require the services of a licensed electrician. The guy that fixed your drywall may claim that he can perform the job at a cheaper price, but drywall won't electrocute you or burn down your home if it's installed in an improper manner.
If you inspected the number of outlets in your home, you may also have noticed that some (or all) of them may be outdated models with only hot and neutral slots and no ground port. If you have been using plug adapters in order to plug in your grounded plugs, you are doing yourself and your family a disservice.
These adapters circumvent the grounding safety feature of the plug and only allow the plug to be inserted into the receptacle. Have them replaced as soon as possible.
You must also look at the outlets in your bathroom, mudroom, or basement. If they are not GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets, which have test and reset buttons in the space between the two receptacles, they must also be replaced.
GFCI outlets shut off when they detect poor grounding caused by exposure to moisture in wet or damp conditions. A simple grounded plug replacement won't suffice in damp areas.
Outlets that wiggle or spark when a plug is inserted or retracted can also be the result of lackluster installation and are hazardous as well.
Don't gamble with the lives of your family or the future of your home. You can save a few bucks by hiring a local person to paint or do other cosmetic work, but make sure you consult a professional electrician when you need electrical work performed.