Old house electrical wiring: A guide for a buyer

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 signs that should prevent from buying.

It is pretty difficult to define what an older home is. But as a general rule of thumb, a home which is 30 years or older qualifies as antique or old. Older  houses are full of charm and style . They are more likely to have a lot of amazing historical features that are not found elsewhere. However,behind these character traits of history there can be a lot of repairs and work to tackle. It’s therefore important to make a deep investigation before buying an older home. Your electrical system is among the most important assets to check in during the visit.   They may be outdated and need a complete installation.

Old does not means bad. An older  electrical system  can be good as well. The major problem with old installations is that they do not comply with the last updated regulations set by the electrical board.  They are made of outdated material and most of the time, new appliances cannot fit into them.

Why is it important for  a potential buyer or owner to know all of this?  simply because what seems a great deal at first may turn into a nightmare in no time. Besides, the buyer is  aware  of every important change that is involved . This article will be divided into the following sections:

  1. Signs that should prevent a potential owner from buying.  What  electrical signs to watch out for when purchasing an older property. Every potential buyer  should be aware of the  problems that can leave them out of the pocket if not well handled.This part highlights the most important electrical signs that  make him/her thinks twice before making an offer.
  2. What is involved in rewiring.  In other words how much are you going to spend for renovations.  Depending on the connections found in the house you may not need a complete rewiring. This section gives  an insight into the  costs or type of renovation involved in rewiring.                                                                                                    why to  rewire an old house

A- Electrical signs that should prevent you from buying.

If  you plan to visit or live in an older home , carefully check your electrical system . If you see at least one of the following signs then you  might need an electrical system repair :

  1. Overcrowded outlet or junction box :A huge amount of cables are mixed , tied together and  pushed out of the box. Though it may be advantageous to an electrician to save time and space, An overcrowded box can get dangerously warm after a while . This increases the risk of an electrocution or electrical fire.
  2. Loose connections or connections with electrical tape. You may ask yourself  How is it possible to allow cables without any protection. It is not  only possible but it’s happens more often that we might think. Imagine how unsafe your children are. Loose connections invite electrocution(  what to do in case of a domestic electrocution) . Connections can be  lost behind the wall not in the receptacle so you may not see them.

Another big issue to deal with is the use of  electrical tapes without the nuts.  Electrical tapes or insulating tapes give a long lasting insulation if well stretched. They come in different colors which indicates the voltage at which they can be used. However,  electrical tapes might fail to protect you this is why it is recommended to never cover them with a flammable material. The problem with electrical tapes is that you don’t know if they are of good quality and can provide the protection that you deserve. This is why in older homes they are prohibited and they should be checked again or changed.

  1. Outdated control panel: It is not easy for a home owner to identify  an outdated control panel. So one  trick is  to try to turn the power off. If    more than one circuit breaker  must be shut off , then the control panel is an  Old one. This is how they were designed.  However such connections are not allowed anymore. You may also want to read avoid electrical pitfalls when buying

4. Open junction boxes. Mostly found in basements, open junction boxes are not aesthetically pleasing  . They are a sign of unplanned and unfinished work . Wires should be well enclosed in a box and cover with a plate.It is never safe to let  a box open. Why? Simply because it is another cause of electrocution. Sometimes the cover plate is missing because connections have been added and the box get overcrowded.

  1. Scratches or rusted cables.  Most cables   become sensitive after some time due to  air . You have to pay attention on these  .
  2. Ungrounded outlets: Check around and see if the outlets installed have 03 holes. If they have only two holes, they are ungrounded . You cannot plug in many appliances used today. An ungrounded outlet is unsafe and do not offer any protection against an electric shock. Indeed, the third hole is connected to the ground which receives leakage current. So it is important to get rid of them as soon as possible.

B- What is involved?

After the inspection, the electrician might advise a rewiring. If your system doesn’t have any big issue, then skip this part. But if it does  this is what to know:

  • Try to identify all the circuits on your own. In other words, draw all the connections which link each circuit and sub circuits. With basic knowledge in house wiring, you will be able to carry out the wiring between each room( switches and lights)  and the corresponding circuit breaker. If you are not comfortable with the idea, contact a professional.
  •  The costs: They depend on the area, the age and size  of the house, etc. They start at $7000 and can go up to $18000 for 1,500 to 3,000  square-foot home. Which include an extra-work that will take place. Plaster work, floorboards or mouldings will be affected and fix back.

There is a lot  of historic beauty and character that makes us fall in love  with an older home. But many of them are likely to have some of the drawbacks mentioned above. The good news is that most of these problems are easy to solve  and might not cost you as you may think. A licensed electrician specialized in rewiring jobs will install a safe and reliable  electrical system which can last for decades.

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