Do you have any Questions? House Hunting-Electrical Wiring

House Hunting? Pay Attention to Outdated Wiring

By John Voket

Spring is here and home buying is in full bloom. I want to gently remind you that while "curb appeal" may attract you, it's the "guts" that should play a key role in determining whether or not a home is a good buy.

According to Ed Ingalls of Newington Electric Company, most people have no idea how dangerous wiring problems may be in a potential new home, even if they hire a home inspector.

Ingalls notes that about 80 percent of homes he sees have some level of outdated wiring. Whether buying a new home or assessing an existing home, there are red flags that wiring should be updated such as:

  • An electric meter located in the basement
  • Old, outdated fuse system
  • Frayed or deteriorated main electrical cable outside of the house
  • Rusted electrical meter box on the outside of your house
  • Lights that flicker on and off or go dim
  • Rusted and corroded grounding wire attached to the water meter
  • Two prong outlets vs. three pronged grounding type electrical outlets
  • Blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers

Other warning signs that a home's electrical system needs attention include:

  • Flickering lights, tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses
  • You hear the sound of electricity, such as buzzing, sizzling or zapping
  • The circuit breaker panel or fuse panel in the basement is rusty
  • Water dripping from your electrical panel when it rains
  • Two prong outlets in the wall instead of three prong grounding type
  • If you don't have GFI outlets (ground fault interrupters) in the kitchen or bathroom
  • If you use extension cords to run your appliances or lights

Ingalls says all homes need to have at least a 100 amp service and may even need 200 or even 400 amp upgrades to accommodate wiring for today's appliances. 

For instance, a modern household with normal everyday appliances would require a 100-amp service minimum, but a household that had a few additional items such as a hot tub and/or air conditioning would most likely need a minimum of 200 amps.

Ingalls further notes that most banks, lending institutions and insurance companies will require a homeowner to upgrade the electrical system before buying or selling a house. In doing so, it may also reduce one's homeowner's insurance.


Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.