When are electrical updates needed?

Hello, I’m looking to buy a home. I was wondering when I should anticipate needing the electrical system updated or replaced.

I’m assuming something like:

5 yr old home… not likely

50 yr old home … inspect at purchase; and/or expect to replace in 5-10?? years?

100 year old home… inspect at purchase, and/or do immediately …1-3 yrs??

Cost estimates for electrical updating?? 7-10k?


P.S. can you also provide an idea of what needs to be replaced? I imagine it’s all the wiring from the breaker box, through the walls, to and including the outlets… and what’s a ballpark estimate for such a replacement? I’m in the mid atlantic area.


The age of the house has nothing to do with when you need to upgrade the electrical system. You should inspect the electrical system in every property before you buy it to determine its condition. Any electrical service below 100 amps will probably need to be upgraded immediately. It is getting very difficult to have properties with 60 amp service insured. Another sign that the electrical system needs to be upgraded is the presence of 'Knob and Tube" wiring.


glass fuses too… :biggrin

Good old glass fuses. :rolleyes I remember replacing those way too many times in the house I lived in as a kid. :evil

 Hey realnew, haven't heard from you in a while....I wouldn't trust building inspectors to give you the complete information regarding electrical, plumbing or anything else.  If any one system jumps out as a possible concern, pay a contactor to come out and give you a bid for repair/replacement.
 Like Mike said, knob and tube wiring will need to be updated (those systems are really old).  Back in the 50's they had two wire wiring, which probably would not need to be changed immediately, but would not meet current building code standards.  In the 1970's there was a period of time when aluminum wiring was allowed in the building code, houses with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to burn down due to electrical problems than houses with copper wiring.
 To replace a panel 2-3k, but if the house needs to be rewired, then the new wiring will need to be stapled to studs every three feet, so either drywall or lath and plaster will need to be ripped out.   Another variable that will affect cost would be whether the house is on a slab or has a crawl space, or weather it has an attic or a flat top.  Then there's the question of how many outlets, fixtures and switches are in the house.  Whole house rewire could cost 10-20k depending upon these variables.

Hope that helps…