Old Homes: Is My Wiring Safe?

Dating back to the 1830s, Marietta has a long history in Cobb County. As such, we have many homes well over 50 years old. What does this mean for their electrical systems? While the life expectancy of an electrical system is around 50 years, some have been known to last longer. Meanwhile, with home remodeling becoming more popular, many old homes in the area have been upgraded at least once. Yet, how do you know if your old home's wiring is modern and if it's not modern, how do you know if it is safe? Keep reading to find out.

Identifying Old Electrical Wiring

Determining the type of wiring in your home can be tricky because your wiring is generally hidden behind your walls. The first place to start is by looking up the year your home was constructed. This will give you a general idea of the type of wiring it originally had. For example, if your home was built in 1946, there is a good chance that it originally had cloth-covered wiring. But what does it have now?

Your next step is to review what repairs or work was done on the home since it was built. You can sometimes access this information by checking with your county recorder's office or your local permit office to find out the history of your home. If you cannot access the information you need, you might also want to check with your neighbors to see if they have any knowledge of major remodeling or rewiring projects completed on your home.

Types of old wiring systems include:

  • Knob-and-tube wiring (pre-1940)
  • Cloth wiring (1920s-1960s)
  • Aluminum wiring (1960s-1970s)
  • Non-metallic (NM) cable (post-1960)

Finally, you can also consult with one of our electricians. We can inspect your property and help you identify what type of wiring it is most likely to have. Our electricians will also review your electrical system, paying careful attention to potential safety issues.

When Should I Upgrade My Wiring?

The best time to upgrade the wiring in your home is when you are already working on a remodeling project. For example, if you are renovating your kitchen, you may already be removing cabinets, replacing or adding outlets, and installing new appliances. This is a great time to reassess your wiring and tackle the project of replacing it.

The other time to replace your wiring is when you start experiencing chronic issues or discover a safety issue. In these cases, you may have to replace the wiring throughout your home, a much bigger project than upgrading a single area. Whole-home rewiring projects can also be quite costly. Before embarking on a rewiring project of this size, you should consult with our licensed electricians to ensure that it is necessary and that the rewiring project is completed correctly and safely.

Signs you may need to rewire your home include:

  • Your existing wiring is very outdated and/or unsafe
  • You smell burning when using your electrical system
  • Your lights flicker or pulse
  • Your outlets are discolored or have scorch marks around them
  • Your outlet covers are hot to the touch
  • Your circuit breakers regularly trip

What About My Service Panel?

Just as with rewiring projects, if you are already working on a home renovation, discussing possible upgrades to your service panel with your electrician is a good idea. New appliances, upgraded lighting, and additional outlets can all increase the burden placed on your service panel and circuits. Without upgrading, you risk problems associated with circuit overloads, such as frequent breaker trippings and even electrical fires. You should also consider replacing your service panel and circuit breakers if your current one is very outdated, such as a system that still features fuses instead of breakers.

Aren't sure what type of service panel you have? Call Lightning Bug Electric for guidance.

Review our blog here to learn more about when you should consider upgrading your service panel.