Old Homes Need Checkups on Wiring to Keep Pace with Code Changes, Says Copper Development Association

November 21, 2005


NEW YORK, NY— Homes age just as people do. Sooner or later, both will require checkups. According to David Brender, national program manager for the Copper Development Association, as the baby boomers reach late maturity and old age, so goes the housing. The average age of the housing stock in the United States reflects the aging of its population, because a building boom accompanied the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s to accommodate millions of new families and their children.

Old age for a home is typically between 50 and 60 years, although many very old homes are still around, too. Across the country, renovations are increasing on this mature stock. Unfortunately, boomer generation homes may be lagging far behind the present safety standards for electrical wiring. "Next to the installation of smoke alarms, one of the most effective ways to improve the safety of these older homes is to upgrade the wiring," says Brender.

Many old homes have been neglected. Probably, no electrical inspections have been performed - and little has been done to bring the wiring up to the current Code. To make matters worse, if wiring work was done, there's a chance that a nonprofessional improperly installed the wiring. For older homes, inadequate and/or aging wiring is probably the most serious concern. Homes built in the 1950s simply do not have enough branch circuits or outlets to accommodate the increased electrical consumption of today's homeowners. The average electrical consumption per household has increased more than fourfold since the 1950s.

An under-wired home is not necessarily a safety hazard in itself, but blown fuses, tripped breakers and overuse of extension cords are signs that your home needs a professional checkup. "One of the key renovations to ensure safety and to increase your home's livability and resale value is an upgrade of the electrical wiring," says Brender.

For more information about residential electrical wiring, visit our Building Wire section.