While buying an older house comes with all of the hand-crafted charms you would expect, it also can also come with a handful of problems.
One of the most common problems that people find when purchasing an older home – especially those built in the 1960s – is with the electrical wiring. Having bad wiring in the home could potentially cause a dangerous situation.
Here’s If Houses From 1960-1970 Should Be Rewired:
If you find that your older home still has the original wiring and electrical panels, you should absolutely consider having your home rewired. Not only will your home need to meet modern code guidelines, but you will also want to make sure your electrical wiring is safe to use.
Do Houses From The 60s Normally Need New Wires?
In order to know if you need to rewire your older home, you first will need to get an electrical inspection. You should always consult an electrical professional to properly check your wires, but here are some things to keep in mind.
First, you will have to check to see how the wires are coated. Homes that were built around the 1960s have wires that have a rubber coating.
While rubber insulation was a common practice decades ago, these days there are far safer ways to insulate wires by using more cloth-based insulation that also is coated in cotton.
The number one sign that a home built in the 1960s will need to be rewired is if there are any signs of damage. This is especially true when it comes to whether or not the wiring was done with PVC.
While a home’s electrical system is made to last, after 60 years, the system will start to deteriorate. So, if you find that the insulation of the wires is starting to break down, it is most likely time to have tour entire wiring system replaces.
What About Houses From The 70s?
As mentioned, homes built in the 1960s more than likely will need to be completely rewired, but what about homes built in the 1970s? Even though they are only a decade apart, the inner electrical workings of a home changes a lot over those 10 years.
A big thing that started happening in the 1970s when it comes to electrical wiring is the use of aluminum wiring. This is because the cost of copper wires skyrocketed by the 1970s making it way too expensive to use in the wiring of a home.
The best part about using aluminum for wiring a home is that it conducts energy just as well as copper but is a fraction of the cost.
But, how well did aluminum wiring hold up over 50 decades? The good news is that aluminum wiring still holds up to this day. So, chances are that you will not need to rewire your 1970s home, as long as the wires are still in good condition.
However, your 1970s home will greatly benefit from replacing the outdating electrical circuit box without having to replace the wiring itself. This will help your home to better regulate the electricity which will reduce your energy bill as well as make the electricity in your home flow safely.
What Are The Main Issues With Wires In Houses From That Period?
The most common power issue that you will see with homes built in the 1960s is that they simply were not made to handle a lot of power. In 1960, the average amps a home was built to handle was 60-100 amps. Nowadays, the average amps that you will see are 150-200 amps. So, you may find that your older home will struggle to power everything your modern home needs.
Another huge issue with older homes is that back then, they would mix metals to create the wiring in the home.
For example, the wiring may be made from aluminum due to the cost, while the connectors (like the ones you see in an outlet) are made from copper.
While both of these elements conduct electricity perfectly, having clashing elements can lead to corrosion. This is why you see so many older homes with severe electrical issues because the wires were so badly damaged from this corrosion.
Lastly, the electrical units of older homes were not made with a circuit breaker that could safely divert energy away from the home. Back then, the over surging of energy would be passed through a ground fault.
While this was innovative at the time, there are much safer ways to divert energy through a circuit breaker.
How Much Does It Cost To Have Your Wiring Inspected?
Now that you know what the common problems are with outdated wiring, it is time to get serious about getting your wiring inspected. But, how much does it actually cost to get your wiring properly inspected, and is it actually worth it?
First, yes it is worth it to spend some money on getting your wiring inspected.
The electrical workings of your home are very important because it not only powers your house, but if something goes wrong it can be absolutely devastating to the safety of your home.
The average cost of getting your wiring inspected is $150-$200. The price can go all the way up to $350 depending on where you live and the size of your home. You also want to make sure that you are using a certified electrical inspector because they will know what they are looking for.
If you find that your home will need to be rewired, that is a whole different cost and can run you a pretty penny.
The average cost of rewiring a home is $5000 and depending on the size of the home as well as the electrical damage, it can run up to $10k.
What Are The Most Common Problems With Old Wiring?
Outdating wiring in an older-built home can cause a lot of problems. The most common problem that homeowners see is that their power doesn’t seem to be consistent throughout the day.
More specifically, lights in the house will flicker often and may even go out from time to time. This is due to your home not having enough amps to cover all the power you are using.
Another common problem is that you will have to spend more money than the average person will have to, especially when it comes to replacing lightbulbs.
This is because the sudden power surges that old wiring can cause will make your light bulbs burn out far faster than normal.
A huge sign that your electrical wiring could use an upgrade is if you find that you have serval outlets in the home that no longer work. There are a few different reasons why your outlets may no longer produce power and all the reasons are linked back to an older wiring system in the home.
Lastly, and most nerve-wracking, is that hoes with older wiring can sometimes have a slight burning smell when certain outlets are turned on.
This, along with sudden shocks that you may feel when touching an outlet or a plug is a huge sign that your home will be needing a wiring upgrade.
This problem will only get bigger if ignored and can lead to a dangerous situation and even can start an electrical fire in the home.
Read our blog here about 3 reasons power strips stop working.
How Can I Know For Sure If a House Has Aluminum Wiring?
The best way to know exactly what type of wiring you have in your home is to consult with a certified electrician.
However, if you have a flashlight and some knowledge about what to look for, you can certainly check the wiring out yourself which will save you some cash from not having to hire a professional. But, what exactly do you look for?
The first thing you need to do is locate the main breaker in your home.
Most homes will have the breaker in the lowest level of the home like the basement. Once you find your breaker, you should be able to see the collection of wires that are coming out and may be connected to the fuse.
The best way to know if your home has copper or aluminum wiring is to check the coloring. Copper wiring will appear to be almost golden while aluminum wiring will appear to be a shiny and silver-like color.
If you see bright silver wiring that seeing to be wrapped around itself leading to the breaker in your home, chances are your home is indeed wired with aluminum wiring.
What Are The Rules Around Old Wiring When Buying a House?
While owning an older home may seem like it gives you total control of your house, there are actually very certain rules that you have to follow. This is especially true when it comes to the electrical wiring of your home.
The NEC, also known as The National Electrical Code has a specific set of rules that you have to follow in order to get your home, as well as the electrical grid, safe.
The first rule to note is that the insulation of electrical wiring has very specific rules to follow. Homes that are made with rubber coating insulation have to be replaced. This is because rubber insulation is considered outdated and wears down over time.
So, if you have an older home that still has rubber insulation, chances are the insulation has worn down to expose the wires.
Next, according to the NEC, the wiring in your home has to run through the circuit breaker with a grounding wire that will divert overloaded energy safely. This is also often referred to as “grounding” the wiring.
Older homes don’t use the same grounding system which means that it will have to be replaced. Most commonly, this type of outdated grounded is often a 2-slot wire system that no longer is relevant to how electricity works in the modern world.
Buying a home, especially one that was built before the 21st century comes with a lot of hidden fees. This is because you have to update the home so that it is not only safe but also avoids big problems. This is especially relevant when it comes to electrical wiring.
The only exception to this rule is homes that have been certified as historical properties. These homes are protected and often still feature the original wiring.
However, chances are the home you bought is not protected, so it may be time to start saving for the big rewiring project. While the price is certainly daunting, the peace of mind that you will get from living in a home that is electrically safe is priceless. Good luck.
Read our blog here about when was aluminum wiring used in houses?