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Old 06-28-2010, 06:34 AM   #1
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Older home wiring upgrade - necessary?


I just bought an older (1948) home. The previous owners were unable to provide information on the electrical system. All I know is that it has been updated since it was built (breaker box looks newer, no knob and tube wiring that I can see). But, I've seen some less than desirable features in the system, such as many three-prong outlets with open grounds, no GFCI outlets in the kitchen or bathroom, mini-breakers in the box, range hood wired very sloppy (shocked me when I removed it). Is it worth having an electrician come in an inspect and upgrade the system where necessary? I know people lived for many years on two-wire electrical, but I don't feel safe plugging my AC or TV into an outlet with no equipment ground.

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Old 06-28-2010, 07:24 AM   #2
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Older home wiring upgrade - necessary?


I think this comment "but I don't feel safe plugging my AC or TV into an outlet with no equipment ground" sums it all up. If you don't feel safe with what you have, get someone to come in and take a look at it. I wouldn't expect Knob and Tube in a late 40's home but stranger things have happened. Do you have Copper or Aluminum wiring? It could prove expensive to have the electrical system updated throughout your home, but what would the peace of mind be worth to you?

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Old 06-28-2010, 06:01 PM   #3
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Older home wiring upgrade - necessary?


It wouldn't hurt to have an electrician come out and do a thorough inspection of the system. They could then make recommendations based on that and you could decide which you could handle as a DIYer and which might need an electrician to do.

Have the electrician inspect the service drop, meter connections, panel, system grounding and bonding.

Then point them in the direction of problems you know about like the range hood.

Then have them estimate what you would need to do to add some grounded circuits in the bath & kitchen (GFCI protected) and throughout the house. There is no need to replace the 2 wire system, but you should replace the ungrounded receptacles with GFCIs (code compliant) or at the very least with 2 prong receptacles (not code compliant, but better than letting people think there is an equipment ground).

Then ask the electrician to price any pie-in-sky work you want done.

It shouldn't take the electrician more than a couple of hours to do all that and it would be money well spent. Ask them to price each item as a separate line item and see if you can pick and choose what you want them to do.
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Old 06-29-2010, 07:46 AM   #4
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Older home wiring upgrade - necessary?


I guess it all depends on what you are comfortable with. I replaced a bunch of my outlets in my house. In 90% of my house I was able to add a ground pigtail to the outlet since the conduit etc. was all Metal, but in my den which is an addition I couldn't get a good ground anywhere so I had to put old school 2-prong ones in there.

I need some work done on the breaker panel as well, but I'm not touching that one, I just don't feel up to it...
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:55 AM   #5
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Older home wiring upgrade - necessary?


I think it should be 'relatively' easy to add outlets and ground existing outlets on the first floor. It's interesting...I have an outlet on either side of the kitchen sink; one has 12/2 with ground running to it, the other is not grounded. Another outlet nearby, the one the fridge is plugged into, isn't grounded either. Can't figure out the reasoning behind it.

The 2nd floor will be tricky to update electrically, since we'd have to run wiring up through the walls.

I was thinking I could install GFCI breakers as opposed to using a GFCI outlet, but those are expensive....

The electrician will charge $210 for a 2-hour inspection of our system. I'm debating whether to hire him or have my father, a veteran DIY-er show me the ropes.
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