Chuck it all? Expert opinions please!!!

enigmaquandryJanuary 12, 2010

We had a scare when our doorbell froze "pushed in" and fried the bell causing a really strong electric burn smell. I'm kind of paranoid now and really want to look into having the entire house re-wired. Our house is a 1 1/2 story cape cod with a basement, about 1200 sq ft. It was built in 1950 with copper wiring...any thoughts? Is it worth it? We have a newer breaker box and some work has been done in the basement that the electrician has said looks ok.

Any idea how much it would cost to have the entire place re-wired? Ballparks?

Thank you SO much

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Ron Natalie

I'm not sure what the doorbell has to do with the rest of your wiring. You can fix the "frying doorbell" by replacing the mechanical strikers (which are prone to burning out in situations like that) with one of the electronic ones.

If you've got copper wiring with grounds and circuit breakers (other than some of the problematic panels like the FPE), there's not anything "different' that rewiring is probably going to do for you other than adding a few additional circuits that used to be allowed to be shared.

You might consider GFCI's in the places they are now required by code if you don't already have them or if sufficiently paranoid putting AFCI breakers on certain circuits.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 4:19AM
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Completely agree with Ron.
Don't forget to change the buttons as well.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 7:04AM
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Doorbells and there wiring have very little to do with the other electrical wiring in your house.

The only connection is a single transformer fed by 120 V and stepped down to the low voltage used by the doorbell circuits (18-24 V).

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 9:13AM
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Tom Pultz

I say "chuck it all" with the ALL being the doorbell wiring. During our remodeling I deleted all the hardwired doorbell wiring and installed a wireless Honeywell doorbell system.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 1:38PM
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Thanks for the feedback so far...tom in seattle, I think wireless is definitely the way to go doorbell-wise.

To clarify, our doorbell was actually completely on its own, not really connected to anything else, so that itself is not a concern to me, I just got paranoid in general after living with the burnt smell for a while.

I really have to admit to knowing almost nothing about electrical work. Is a house built in the 50's with copper wiring something to be concerned about or is there no real room for improvement? How do you know if your wiring is safe?

I've had housefires on both sides of my family so I am very concerned and uninformed...not good!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 5:10PM
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I was going to just write that paranoid is a good word for you. If you had electrical house fires in the family, that would explain it. You are really over reacting. If you want to feel more secure, consider getting an electrician to check over your stuff or check it out yourself. Don't panic, take your time and ask around to find a reputable person. You don't want to get someone in there that will advise replacing everything just to have work.

Have the main panel checked for loose connections. You, yourself, can check connections in all the electrical boxes, switches, outlets and junction boxes. Look for loose connections and burned wires or other stuff.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 8:18PM
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Thank you that does make me feel better, does old wiring last forever? I mean if all the connections are good? Or does it have a "life expectancy"?

It doesn't help that every rennovation show has "fire hazards" found in the walls, is this common to find or just drama for the show?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 9:57PM
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"Thank you that does make me feel better, does old wiring last forever?"

Wiring from the 1950s has plastic insulation and should be good almost forever.

Even older wiring may have cloth covered rubber insulation.
It is usually fine unless disturbed.

The rubber has dried out and become brittle, and any movement can cause it to crack, and even fall of the wire in boxes when you do any work in them.

Receptacles can wear out and switches may fail but these devices are easily replaced.

The most significant change sine the 1950s is the running of full size ground conductors on all 15 and 20 amp circuits.

You can use GFCI receptacles to obtain almost the same level of protection if grounds are not present.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 8:31AM
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