Cost to rewire old house

trianglejohnJuly 1, 2008

IÂm looking at buying a 1950Âs farmhouse. I had it inspected and below is a cut-n-paste of the worst of the problems he found. My question is how much does electrical work cost? Before this I always relied on my father who was a licensed electrian, but he died last year so now I have to pay full price. The inspector mentioned re-wiring the house. He implied that the new(ish) HVAC system was underperforming because the houseÂs wiring couldnÂt handle something that large. Does this mean actually pulling new wires through the conduits or does it mean that the breakers/fuses need to be updated but that the wiring stays the same. I live in Raleigh NC where the housing downfall is just starting and prices and services seem cheaper than other cities. I havenÂt got a clue what this may cost. I am trying to do the math on all the repairs this house needs before I make an offer to buy it.

from his report:

Cooling System - Max Amp and fuse/breaker

The system spec is a maximum 45 amp breaker while the breaker labeled as AC in the main panel is 60 amps, I recommend that a professional electrician further evaluate and make necessary repairs

Main Panel Location & Disconnect

Right side of house - when the range burners and oven were turned on, the 100 amp breaker repeatedly tripped out, I recommend that a professional electrician further evaluate the system and make necessary repairs

Amperage, Voltage - est 200 Amps 120/240 Volts

Some aluminum wire is installed on 120V branch electrical circuits. These single strand, branch aluminum wires were used widely during the mid 60s and early 70s. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, problems due to expansion can cause overheating at connections between wire and devices or at splices, which has resulted in fires. For Further information contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at their web site http://cpsc.gov. It is recommended that the electrical system be evaluated by a licensed electrician.

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bigbird_1

"It is recommended that the electrical system be evaluated by a licensed electrician."

I would do exactly as the inspector suggests and get at least 3 estimates.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 8:39PM
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heimert

Not entirely sure what he's saying on each of these, but here are a couple of thoughts:

If the main panel needs to be upgraded to 200Amp panel, that could cost ~$2000 (although price varies by location).

Replacing the breaker for the AC could be pretty low cost, especially if done in conjunction with main panel replacement.

Rewiring is labor intensive if the wires are behind walls. That could be pretty costly or not much depending on where the wires run.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 2:49PM
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petey_racer

"The inspector mentioned re-wiring the house. He implied that the new(ish) HVAC system was underperforming because the houseÂs wiring couldnÂt handle something that large."

This tells me he has very little clue about things electrical, as many H-I do.

The re-wiring the aluminum branch circuits IS a very good idea, although this has NOTHING to do with the A/C.

He actually got the main breaker to trip??? I find this very strange for a H-I to do. IMO this is outside his scope of expertise.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 8:13PM
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shadetree_bob

On the cooling system what he is telling you is that the 60 amp breaker is really not protecting the circuit. If any problem comes along that would trip the 45 amp breaker the 60 amp may just sit there until something gets hot enough to burn. The fix here seems to be to simply replace the breaker. However there could be some other reason that a 60 is being used, hence call the electrician.

I really do not see anything strange about turning on a stove to see if it works and noting that doing so trips the breaker. Just get the stove fixed.

I have had some experience with aluminum wiring in a relatives house. The connections WILL loosen up over time and can cause arcing and sparking. Get it replaced!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 10:09PM
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trianglejohn

Wouldn't you know it. Just when I was getting ready to write the realtor a bid on the house, some sort of crime action takes place involving this house and the one next door! Something involving drugs, wads of cash, a safe, some weapons and one person getting shot. I think I can rewrite that bid a bit lower now.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 1:49PM
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petey_racer

"On the cooling system what he is telling you is that the 60 amp breaker is really not protecting the circuit. If any problem comes along that would trip the 45 amp breaker the 60 amp may just sit there until something gets hot enough to burn. The fix here seems to be to simply replace the breaker. However there could be some other reason that a 60 is being used, hence call the electrician."

This is completely false.
The breaker does NOT protect the appliance, it protects the circuit conductors.
Using this logic we should never plug anything into a 20A protected receptacle unless it is over 15 amps. This is a flawed logic.

The reason the breaker should be changes is because the unit labeling says so. We MUST follow the manufacturer's listing and instructions.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 8:01PM
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