Electrical Rewiring Question:
We are looking to buy our first home in a neighborhood that has many older homes (circa 1910-1930). Those that have not already been fixed up usually have knob and tube wiring, and thus, no insulation. They also often have plaster and lath walls. My question is, is it feasible to have an electrician rewire (and then insulate) an entire house without having to remove the plaster walls? Are there tricks that can help minimize damage to the walls or cut down on the labor the electrician has to do, such as locating outlets in the baseboards?
Thanks for any info you can provide! ask-the-electrician.com
Thanks- Jennifer and
Hi Jennifer and John - Great Electrical Repair Question!
I understand your dilemma. What it really comes down to is accessibility to perform the work and not disturbing the walls, or the need to open portions of the walls to install new wiring. However you must understand what you are up against. If the home has all original wiring and your family will require the services of a modern electrical system you will need to rewire the home. This may not need to be done all at one time, you may want to start by upgrading your panel to a 200 amp meter main for example and then take one room at a time. You will need to apply for a permit to do any of this work as you definitely want this work to be documented and inspected, for insurance reasons and to write off the improvements of the home. Typically what happens is this (at least in California), the building department will require the whole home to be brought up to code when you begin any construction work inside. The electrical upgrades will involve Interconnected Smoke Detectors, GFCI Protection in Bathrooms, Kitchen etc
, AFCI Circuits for the Bedrooms, and Required Appliance Circuits for the Kitchen. This link may be of help: http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Electrical/BasicElectInstall/default.asp The attached pdf file will help as well. Good luck, and let me know how it all works out. Now is a great time to buy a home even if you need to upgrade the utilities. While your at it, check the plumbing too. If you need to open the walls it's a great opportunity to think about all of the house systems and any future requirements. As for the charm of the home, you will never know by looking at the finished walls if it was sheet rock of lath and plaster, and it's always good to remove outdated building materials, and you are given the opportunity to install insulation properly. Check into incentive programs which may be available through state or federal programs that could help out, especially if you are a first time buyer.