If your electric fuses or circuit breakers blow or trip often, your home's wiring may be inadequate. If so, a few extra circuits may bring the system up to par, or the house may need complete rewiring.

Here's how you can check whether your home's electrical wiring needs upgrading.The symptoms:

Most people manage with their present wiring only because not all circuits are in use at the same time. You need additional wiring if:

-Fuses or circuit breakers blow or trip often.

-Lights flicker when appliances are turned on.

-Appliances do not operate at full power.

-TV images shrink when a heavy appliance is on.

-You use a lot of extension cords.

Mapping:

Mapping your home's electrical system will help you assess your system. Follow these steps to create your map:

1. Get some paper, a pencil, a set of colored pencils or crayons, and a plug-in radio. Sketch the floor plan using a full sheet of peaper for each floor. Omit furniture and other moveable objects. Label the rooms. For each room record the approximate location for each electrical outlet - switches, lights, and receptacles.

2. Now shut off the first circuit at the service panel and walk through the house, flipping on lights and plugging in the radio at each receptacle. Remember the garage, any outside outlet, and the attic.

3. Write a number "1" on your map beside each outlet affect by that first circuit breaker or fuse. This could be a light, a switch, or a receptacle. Label the service panel box with a simple description of the outlets on that circuit, for example, bath lights, master bedroom, basement lights, etc.

4. Turn the first circuit back on and check the second, and so on until you are finished. Remember that a single circuit may control just one large appliance such as a refrigerator. Finally, color code the outlets for each circuit on your map so they stand out.

Upgrading:

1. Learn about local codes from your city and town building inspector.

2. Check the existing service panel to see if there is room for new circuits. Be sure to check with the local utility company to be certain that the lines leading into your home have the capacity to deliver the extra power the nw circuits would require.

3. Try to plan circuits so that lighting is kept separate from heavy-duty circuits such as those powering kitchen and laundry appliances.

4. Call a licensed electrician to make the final evaluation of your system.

5. Some communities allow you to install new circuits up to the service panel, but insist that a licensed electrician complete the final hookup. The high cost of additional circuits is in the routing of the wire. Most electricians will gladly inspect your work before making the final connections for only a fraction of what they would charge for the entire job.

6. If complete replacement is necessary, have an electrician do the work.