The lights still go out every time you turn on your plasma-screen TV, even though you've swapped the old two-prong outlet in your den for a new three-prong version. Electrical systems in old houses are often incapable of supporting today's accumulating gadgetry, and overload can lead to surges that destroy electronics or spark fires. Signs that it's time to replace the electrical system include frequently blown fuses, tripped circuit breakers, and lights that flicker or dim when an energy sucker kicks on. To get a handle on what's lurking behind the walls, get an assessment by an electrical inspector. Find one in your area through the city or county building-inspection department. Work will likely include upgrading the electrical panel, replacing cloth-wrapped wiring with new plastic insulated lines, and grounding outlets. Prices vary widely for a whole-house electrical revamp. When mulling over the bids, it's best to go with a licensed and bonded electrician with a track record of updating older homes.
Repair: If your electrical panel is up-to-date, your electrician may be able to add a line.