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Common Wiring Issues in Old Homes: 1900s-1950s


The style and character of older homes can be incredibly endearing. Besides this, the price tag on older houses can help make homeownership more plausible. Living in these houses can be a rewarding experience, but it does come with some considerations. Electrical wiring in the early 1900s was very different from the wiring we need to power our homes today. As a result, certain electrical issues may crop up for homeowners. Luckily, trained electricians have solutions to these common problems.

A Few Fuses Short

Houses built prior to the 1960s were installed with fuse boxes that powered 60 amp service, four fuses, or sometimes only 30 amp service with two fuses. These levels would easily power a home from that time, one with a single television, a fridge, and an oven. But modern day requires too much electricity to function properly under these conditions. New construction now will have circuit breakers instead of fuse boxes. If your home still has a fuse box, you’re likely overloading the system and may experience constant outages as a result.

Two Slots Just Aren’t Enough

Have you ever counted the number of slots on your electrical outlets? If you’re only seeing two slots per plug-in, that’s a good sign that your home was built before the 1960s. Nowadays, three prong receptacles are standard because they properly ground the current running through that particular outlet. This is an incredibly important safety feature. Homeowners with only two prong receptacles will need to have an electrical upgrade to avoid electrical shock.

How Low Can You Go

Another common attribute of old homes prior to the 1960s was the use of low voltage switches. These odd-looking devices would usually come have four switches on a single plate. While the switches themselves don’t pose any real electrical risk, they are at the end of their serviceable lifespan. Manufacturers have veered away from these devices, making repairs and replacements expensive for homeowners. Once your low voltage switches quit working, you’ll likely need to have them updated and re-wired.

These issues aren’t just inconvenient; the first two can create risk of electrical shock or even fire. Because of this, insurance companies will be much more hesitant to insure homes that have these wiring conditions. If you are moving into a home that is older than 50 years, or already living in one, make sure to have a thorough inspection of the electrical system and have any issues rectified right away!

Written by 4-Star Electric

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