How Safe Is Your Home Wiring?
There is a good chance that your home will need to be rewired (house rewires) if it was built before 1950. This is because cloth-insulated wires were commonly used before 1950. The problem with cloth-insulated wiring is that it will deteriorate, becoming brittle. As a result, the insulation falls off leaving bare wires. Bare wires can create sparks that can cause fires or electrical shocks. As a rule, you are more likely to need to replace your wiring it is older. For more information about this and other safety concerns with older electrical wiring, click here.
Another common replacement in older homes is the electrical panel. This is the box that contains all of your fuses or circuit breakers. Its job is to take all of the electricity coming in from your utility company and redistribute it throughout your home. Because older circuit breakers were not designed to handle our typical power usage today, many of them cannot handle the electricity that we require. This can lead to blown fuses and flipped circuit breakers.
These old electrical panels can also lead to other hidden dangers. Many of them may fail when it comes time to shut off electricity during a power leak or overload. This can result in sparks, fire, melted wire or shocks. Click here to learn more about electrical panel upgrades.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is home rewiring?
- When do you need a house rewire?
- Is damaged wiring really a safety issue?
- How do I know what type of electrical wires are in my house?
- How much does home rewiring cost?
- How long does home rewiring take?
- Does home rewiring require breaking walls?
- Will my power be out during a home rewiring?
- Will rewiring my home or business increase my resale value?
- Will a rewire lower my insurance rates?
- Can I do it myself?
- After how long should my home be rewired?
- What do I do next?
What is home rewiring?
When a home is rewired, all of the old wires are removed and new ones are installed. It may also be necessary to perform an electrical panel upgrade at this time. In the case that some wiring in a house is usable, it may only be necessary to do a partial rewire. In other cases, adding a ground wire may be the only upgrade that is necessary.
When do you need a house rewire?
If any of the following are true, your home probably needs a house rewire:
- It was wired before 1950 – If your home was wired before 1950, your chances of having deteriorated cloth insulation are very high. Furthermore, many homes wired before 1950 have ungrounded electrical systems that are no longer safe. The older your pre-1950 electrical system was installed, the greater your chances of needing an update.
- Knob and Tube Wiring. If your home was built before 1935, it probably has Knob and Tube (Knob and Spool) wiring. These systems also use cloth-insulated wiring and are not grounded.
- Cloth-insulated wiring. The majority of homes built before 1950 have cloth-insulated wiring. This insulation will deteriorate as it ages, requiring updates. Furthermore, most of these systems are not grounded.
- Undergrounded wiring or undergrounded outlets. If your system is an undergrounded wiring system, then it does not have a proper metal conductor to divert electricity out of the home and into the ground in a safe manner. Having a properly grounded system will protect you from both fire danger and electrical shock.
- Aluminum Wiring. It is believed that more than 2,000,000 homes constructed between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s that were built using aluminum wiring instead of copper wiring. As time has passed, aluminum wiring has exhibited itself as a firing hazard. An electrician who is specially trained and experienced must replace these wires. Unfortunately, due to its specialized nature, this can be very expensive. To learn more about low cost aluminum wiring upgrades, click here.
- Use of Extension Cords. If you are using extension cords as permanent solutions to a problem, it is probably time to add more circuits to your home. For more information regarding extension cords as fire hazards, click here.
- Too few outlets, switches or insufficient power. If any of these are true, your home may need additional circuits. This is an indicator of an older electrical system that may require upgrades for both safety and convenience.
- Outdated electrical panel. For more information about replacement of an electrical panel, click here. This is not typically included in a home rewire, but may be necessary depending on your system.
Is damaged wiring really a safety issue?
There are many homes that catch fire as a result of faulty wiring. According to the U.S. Fire Administration:
“During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $858 million in property losses. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.”
If you have any questions regarding the safety of your electrical system, or would like more outlets, switches or any other electrical upgrades, please call our in-office electrician for a consultation and Home Safety Inspection.
How do I know what type of electrical wires are in my house?
If your home was built prior to 1950, take a look at some photos of knob and tube and cloth insulated wiring. While there is no way for the average homeowner to detect whether or not they have aluminum wiring, you should be able to identify either of these.
The best way to tell is to ask an electrician to look at your electrical system. Whether you knew it or not, you should have an electrician look at the tightness of your electrical connections at least every ten years, so this can be accomplished at the same time. Our electricians will be more than happy to provide you with a home safety inspection and let you know the type of wiring you have.
How much does home rewiring cost?
We charge for house rewiring based on square footage and the type of wiring currently installed. If your home has copper wires running through conduit (a hollow metal tube that the wires run through), the cost is less than if the electrical wires are not encased in conduit. With any rewire, the type and condition of the existing electrical wiring, and how many outlets, etc. are desired, affect the price. You can call our in-office electrician for an over-the-phone cost estimate and also an on-site exact price bid.
How long does home rewiring take?
There are many factors that affect the time that it takes, including the size of your house. When we have all the information, we can give you a fairly accurate estimate of how long it will take. For the average sized house, it typically takes from two days to a week to complete a full rewiring.
Does home rewiring require breaking walls?
This all hinges on how your house is currently wired, and the amount of your electrical system requiring replacement. Often, much of the work can be performed without breaking any walls. If this is necessary, however, we are very skilled at only breaking exactly where necessary and cleaning everything up in preparation for a painter. We know that you want us to help fix your problems, not create them for you.
Will my power be out during a home rewiring?
Power will always be shut off to the portion of the house in which we are currently pulling old wires and replacing with new ones. Over the years, we have put together a solid system for only working on one specific area of your home at a time. This allows us to maintain power to the rest of your house. Furthermore, we will never leave you without power overnight.
Will rewiring my home or business increase my resale value?
This is very probable. If your current wiring system is unsafe, for example, this will be a large issue during escrow and the home inspection process. Furthermore, most lenders will not give a mortgage and insurance companies will not provide insurance for unsafe homes. As a result, you will see fewer buyers and a much lower sale price for your house. Every time we rewire a house, we provide you with a Lifetime Guarantee on our work that is transferable to future buyers of the home.
Will a rewire lower my insurance rates?
Most major insurers will decline to provide insurance for homes that do not have up-to-code electrical systems. If your home matches this criteria, you are most likely stuck with an insurance company that charges very high rates.
Is an electrical permit required?
Yes. When you sell your home, and a rewire has been done, you are legally obligated to show an electrical building permit or to admit that no permit was obtained. Having a permit means that your electrician was required to have an electrical inspection to ensure that the wiring followed all National Electrical Code regulations and is installed safely.
Can I do it myself?
This is possible, depending on the level of your electrical skills, knowledge and equipment. In order to safely rewire a home (in a way that will pass building inspections), you must possess electrical skills, tools and knowledge of the National Electrical Code. To rewire an average home typically requires the skills of two to three experienced electricians around a week to complete. If you are not an electrician, rewiring yourself could be dangerous and time consuming. In a nutshell, it is possible, but not recommended.
After how long should my home be rewired?
There is no specific timeline for your electrical system. However, you should have your electrical system checked by a professional every 10 years. Have a licensed electrician come out to check the tightness of all of your electrical connections to make sure that everything is still connected properly.
If you have an older home, such as one that was built before 1950, it is possible that your electrical system is not up to current codes. It may have also deteriorated into an unsafe condition.
If you have doubts about the integrity of your electrical system, call us for a Home Safety Inspection. One of our licensed electricians will come out to determine if any work needs to be done. They may also find that everything is in perfect working order, and no work is required.
What do I do next?
For a consultation about the safety and integrity of your home’s electrical system, give our in-office electrician a call. It will be our pleasure to provide you with a consultation, as well as an Estimate if you are interested.