DEC is seeing a sharp rise in electrical home electrical inspections and rewire requests
for homes built between 1900 and the 1950’s. These home have tremendous character and
appeal to homebuyers looking to preserve these well-built treasures from the past.
Typical needs for these homes starts at the fuse box. Yes, that is right, there are still home with screw-in fuses instead of
modern breakers. There may be nothing wrong with the fuse boxes per-se, but there are just too few branch circuits for a
modern home, and adding more fuses does not make sense. When modern breaker panels typically hold 20-40 branch
Then we generally move onto the wiring. The oldest homes typically have “knob & tube wiring”, where
exposed wires run between glass knobs in the attic. This shortcoming is generally realized when homeowners
desire to insulate the attic, and are faced with the possibility of burying the exposed conductors. This is not a
good idea. The knob and tube wiring is replaced with modern romex wire cables.
Insulation on old wiring is often rated for lower temperature operation. Modern light fixtures require higher temperature
in the feed wires. Simply installing a new fixture can create a dangerous hot spot inside the fixture.
Two-wire systems are missing the all-important ground wire. Occupants of the old homes must constantly defeat the three wire
power cords by using a 3-wire to 2-wire adapters.
The modern features like ground fault detectors (GFCI) and arc-fault breakers often cannot be added to old home wiring.
Homes built in the 60’s and 70’s often contain aluminum wiring. Aluminum wires are fine, until they come in contact with copper wires or fittings.
Hot spots often develop in outlets and light fixtures. Homeowners will often choose a “re-splice”, that adds copper terminating wires to prevent aluminum wire from
contacting the fixtures.
Modern home wiring is well labeled, and includes sufficient outlets and light switches to support large
room design and modern appliances. GFCI’s outlets are placed in kitchen, bathroom and outside outlets.
All breakers include arc-fault protection in order to trip in the presence of a sparking short.
Upgrading home wiring is a certain way to improve home livability, and increase home value.