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Two months and we'll be moved in, we're excited! I'm trying to read up on everything so I can get to work when we move in and up until this point I was just assuming that romex would be installed but maybe it's not. I was watching a show and they were replacing a light which had the old[er] two wire cable with the metal shroud as the ground and it got me thinking if our house will have that. A New England house built in 1978 what kind of wiring should we expect?
 

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My house was built in the 50's & it had the 3 conductor wire
It was the older stuff - cloth covered
Only one old run was 2 wire in the basement - easily replaced
 

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You will have grounded copper romex. You will have 3 wire circuits (as opposed to 4 wire) to your 240V appliances.

Your wiring will be good if no homeowners or handymen have had their way with it.
 

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If you try to replace any lighting fixture be aware that you only have 60 degree rated insulation. Some new fixtures require 90 degree rated insulation.
 

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Ceiling light fixtures were almost always rated for 60 watt maximum bulbs, a lot of them had 100s installed. The wire insulation will be somewhat crispy in the boxes above these fixtures.

It was common to use aluminum wiring to ranges, stoves, etc. Very rarely ever a problem with it though.

There was also a time right around that era when aluminum wire was used for 15 and 20 amp branch circuits as well. That certainly could be a problem, if it is still intact it's not too difficult to fix.

A lot of receptacles were 'back-stabbed' as well. These will burn up under heavy use. Again, if still intact, easy to fix.

Look at the panel. If it is Zinsco or FPE, my advice is to replace it with something a bit more reliable. These breakers had a nasty tendency to not trip, even when subjected to several hundred amps. Some insurance companies will refuse to cover a house with these panels.

As stated above, if no one has messed with it much, it's usually in good shape.

Rob
 

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Most houses built then would have lots of NM cable for the branch circuits. However, depending on your location, some municipalities required the use of armored cable (type AC or "BX") to prevent rats, mice, etc from chewing through it.
 

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Ceiling light fixtures were almost always rated for 60 watt maximum bulbs, a lot of them had 100s installed. The wire insulation will be somewhat crispy in the boxes above these fixtures.
I agree.

It was common to use aluminum wiring to ranges, stoves, etc. Very rarely ever a problem with it though.

There was also a time right around that era when aluminum wire was used for 15 and 20 amp branch circuits as well. That certainly could be a problem, if it is still intact it's not too difficult to fix.
By 1978, the aluminum alloy had changed to the type that is in use today, so it is much less a problem than if it was from the 60's.

A lot of receptacles were 'back-stabbed' as well. These will burn up under heavy use. Again, if still intact, easy to fix.
Agreed. I'm sure there are a few that will need replacement, due to being cracked, or needing GFCI protection - you can take a look. You might wish to change device color anyway.

Look at the panel. If it is Zinsco or FPE, my advice is to replace it with something a bit more reliable. These breakers had a nasty tendency to not trip, even when subjected to several hundred amps. Some insurance companies will refuse to cover a house with these panels.
Junk.

As stated above, if no one has messed with it much, it's usually in good shape.

Rob
Yup.
 
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