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Should You Rewire Your Older Home?

July 31 2010

Expensive as it is, if you live in an old house chances are it might be time to rewire. Homes built as recently as the 1980s might not meet today’s safety standards as consumers now rely on so many things that require electricity.  With bigger flat screen televisions, high-speed Internet access (which requires special Cat-5 wiring per the phone company) desktop computers, and more, your home has to pull a lot of energy just to keep up with demand.

Old wiring can deteriorate until it’s a hazard, eventually leading to nuisances like blown fuses to dangerous electrical fires. And, old wiring might not pass an inspection, especially if you are planning on putting your home on the market.

If you aren’t sure old wiring is a problem in your home, here are three ways to tell.   

• Your wiring looks as if its deteriorated or cracked of falling apart. To determine if you have old wiring or not, Houseprofessional.com says the first thing to look for is black wire leading into your consumer unit, otherwise known as your electrical panel, usually placed inside the home. It contains both miniature circuit breakers and residential current circuit breakers. Black wire is a good indicator of age because modern 21st century wires are coated in PVC material giving them a white or grey color. The old black wires are coated with rubber that deteriorates faster and allows wires to contact. Ultimately, wires that have the PVC coating will last longer over time.

• If you only have one outlet per room, you are seriously underserviced. You should have outlets every six to eight feet for your appliances, and your jacks need to be properly grounded  for three-prong appliances.

• Last, you know something is not right if you’re experiencing blown fuses or power outages. If you’ve replaced a fuse more than once in the past year your wiring cannot handle what you need it to. Unless you have your wiring fixed your problems will only persist and you’ll just keep blowing fuses-why waste the money?

Ask a licensed electrician for a system check. The cost for rewiring can vary widely, according to labor costs in your area, perhaps thousands of dollars. If you have new electrical service installed, you’ll have to have it done by a licensed electrician, as he will have to have the city or other authority approve his work.

New wiring is well worth the cost in peace of mind and in safety.