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House Hunting? Pay Attention to Outdated Wiring

Tuesday, August 6, 2013   /   by William Culp

House Hunting? Pay Attention to Outdated Wiring

Summer is here and home buying is in full bloom. We 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Ingalls notes that about 80 percent of homes he sees have some level of outdated wiring.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• Old, outdated fuse system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.