Older homes with good bones tend to be well worth their money. Especially if you are buying a gently used older home that could benefit from a modest remodel or facelift. While things like woodwork, drywall, and appliances garner a lot of attention, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that will benefit from updating or upgrading.

A lot of people who are looking to remodel an older home are often faced with wondering if their old electric wiring is safe, and whether or not it needs to be replaced?

If you are currently in the process of remodeling an older home then the answer to whether or not the wiring should be replaced is a resounding yes! It is estimated that outdated, old wiring causes around 5,000 residential structure fires per year.

If you are already in the middle of a serious remodel, chances are the walls will be open to some extent. This will make it easy and cost-efficient to upgrade the wiring and install new devices as part of the process.

Signs & Reasons To Upgrade Your Older Wiring

The following things are strong indicators or all-around good reasons to update or replace your old wiring.

The Home Was Built Before 1985

This is a critical year where electrical codes were updated and license requirements were put in place. Homes older than 30 years or more are also more likely to have compromised or otherwise damaged wiring.

Frequently Tripping Breakers & Fuses

If you are replacing fuses or tripping breakers on your circuit panel it’s likely a sign of faulty wiring or that you are simply placing too much load on the wires for them to continue to function safely in the long term. This is even more likely to be an issue if you find yourself using extension cords to increase the number of available outlets in various rooms.

Lights Flicker Or Dim

This often occurs when a high-draw appliance like a refrigerator compressor or high wattage microwave turns on. This is a sign that the wires of that circuit cannot keep up with the active or intermittent demand.

Outlooks Are Stained Or Discolored

This is often a sign of metal fatigue or a serious breakdown in the protective wire coating of the wires that deliver current to the outlet.

If one or more of these things are a factor, you should strongly consider having your home’s old wires replaced, regardless of if you are actively remodeling or not.

The Benefits Of Upgrading To Modern Copper Wires

Older homes from the 1970s and earlier tended to use aluminum wiring as it cost less than copper at that time. Also, older copper wiring had a tendency to corrode, which carried its own long-term safety concerns.

The problem is that aluminum wires tend to expand and contract. This increases the risk of short circuits over time, which can greatly increase the risk of fire. It can also affect energy efficiency leading to much higher energy bills.

Newer copper alloy wiring has higher conductivity than aluminum. This doesn’t interfere with the flow of electrical current. The alloy composition of the wiring helps prevent the long-term corrosion that helps put copper out of fashion in the electrical industry in the past.

Changes in the cost of the two metals have also made it more cost-effective than ever to replace old, outdated aluminum wiring with copper alloy wiring. All while making for more efficient delivery of current to your home’s devices and appliances.

The Perfect Time To Install Or Replace Outlets & Fixtures

One of the other advantages of replacing your outdated wiring is that it is also the perfect opportunity to replace or upgrade outlets and light fixtures. A lot of older homes might have ungrounded two-prong outlets as well as outdated light fixtures. This is a great time to replace them with their modern equivalent. You should especially think about doing this if your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room don’t have GFCI outlets.

The Perfect Time To Replace Circuit Breakers & Fuse Boxes

Replacing the outdated wiring in your home is also a good time to update circuit panels and replace fuse boxes with modern circuit breakers. Not only will this help to safely distribute the electrical load of your house, upgrading to 20 Amp breakers will allow you to use more of the current being delivered by the superior modern copper wiring.

Can I Replace My Home’s Electrical Wiring Myself?

Technically most state and local ordinances will allow a dedicated DIYer to update, upgrade or replace their own wiring. However, all pertinent electrical codes still apply. So, you need to make sure you are doing your research before you even think about doing something as simple as rewiring a simple electrical outlet.

Though the much bigger problem here is the increased risk for a fire that comes with a lot of DIY rewiring projects. If you read the fine print of a lot of homeowner’s insurance policies you will find that most void their coverage if an electrical fire was caused by faulty amateur wiring.

Ultimately, it’s best to have a licensed professional electrician handle your rewiring needs to make sure that everything is done right the first time, and up to all pertinent local codes. A licensed electrician can also help diagnose potential faults or other areas that need upgrading to bring your beautiful home fully into the modern age.