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  1. #1
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    Default Rewiring an Old House

    My husband and I are trying to buy our first home and are under contract on a home in the Lehigh Valley area of PA. The home was built in 1900 and is 3 stories and 1500 sq ft. We knew the home had 100 amp electric going in and would need at least a 200 amp panel and some new wiring...however when we had the home inspected today the inspector discovered that the house is largely knob and tube wire and may need to be completely rewired. Anyone have any idea what it might cost to have such a home rewired?... We'd hate for this to be something that would make us have to walk away from this house! The walls are old plaster that is cracked in some places and the ceilings are crumbling in some rooms as well. A general contractor who looked at the place suggested drywalling over the plaster...but any ideas what it might cost to remove all the plaster, do the electric with that all down and then drywall....vs doing the electric through the walls and still drywalling over or repairing the plaster?.........

    Oops...that's 2500 sq ft....heh Also, to add, there is a full basement and an attic (currently uninsulated)
    Last edited by Stina; 10-27-2008 at 09:01 PM. Reason: typo and addition

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Rewiring an Old House

    Removing the interor walls would be the ideal method and easier for the electricians ..... but the more costly and the most instrusive method. Likely you will find plumbing issues that would need to be addressed , besides if the walls were open you might as well redo the plumbing.

    Once you start opening walls you are likely required to replace all the knob & tube which also means that all the wiring in the home will have to be brought up to modern codes.

    Costs could range $10k - $20+ K ....depends.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Rewiring an Old House

    What makes you think you need a larger service?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rewiring an Old House

    Welcome to the money pit...

    Seriously, when you take on a house as old as yours, and wish to update its systems and restore its character, the costs can easily escalate to where it equals or exceeds the cost of tearing down and building a new house of comparable size. But you can never replace the charm, history, or sentimental value of an old house.

    As for the knob and tube wiring, unless your local building department requires that it ALL be replaced, it can be left in place if it's in pretty good condition. Under certain circumstances, you may even be able to splice existing K&T to modern nonmetallic sheathed cable ("Romex"). Nevertheless, any time you open up a wall and expose K&T wiring, you WILL be required to replace it. Only where it enters an inaccessible wall or ceiling cavity will it be allowed to remain. Further, few inspectors will permit K&T to be covered or embedded with insulation.

    If at all possible, repair the plaster. It has a certain "feel" that cannot be replicated with drywall; I think that it is mostly in how the plaster reflects sound. Drywall is acoustically dead; it's also far too uniform in appearance. Plaster is acoustically live and bears the marks of the plasterer's craft.

    Just my thoughts, they're worth every penny you paid for them.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Rewiring an Old House

    According to the inspection report there is some odd wiring that needs to be repaired, on top of the exposed knob and tube wiring being brittle and shot...so at least some of it needs to be replaced.

    The ceiling plaster in most places cannot be repaired...the walls generally could be though. We're considering putting up plywood over the plaster and doing some tin ceilings.

    What makes you think you need a larger service?
    do you mean 200 vs 100 amp?... We absolutely need 200....we keep reptiles and aquariums and have a lot of small kitchen appliances....we've blown fuses in my parent's 7 year old home with 200 amp service. Reptiles and aquariums mean things plugged in 24/7, not necessarily consuming much power individually, but it adds up. We'd be blowing fuses constantly with 100 amp.

    The one thing that may save us is that my brother's girlfriend's dad is an electrician and is willing to do work for us...which should save us some money.....but we need to find out exactly what needs to be done.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Rewiring an Old House

    Installing a 200 amp service isn't going to keep you from "blowing fuses" or tripping circuit breakers, UNLESS it's the main breaker that's tripping, which isn't likely unless you have the range running at full tilt and the dryer running and the water heater and you have electric heat.

    What you need is more circuits, and that will probably involve extensive rewiring. Typical circuits in residential wiring are 15A except in the kitchen and bath which are 20A. If you are rewiring, based on what you are representing as the load, you might want to install 20A circuits (heavier gauge wiring) for your receptacles in other rooms as well.

    Keep in mind that certain appliances require dedicated circuits: dishwasher, clothes washer, and any other "installed" appliance such as a trash compactor. And NEVER connect a refrigerator or freezer to a GFI-protected receptacle.

    Even so, if you are faced with replacing the service in order to add more circuits, you might as well bump it up to 200A -- it's not that much more than a 200A service.
    Last edited by Fencepost; 10-28-2008 at 10:47 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Rewiring an Old House

    stina---hope i got the name right!----dont sheetrock over the plaster walls!!!geeeeewizzz what terrible advice. first--you want to update your house with minimal impact retaining its original structure as much as possible. we have a home built in 1795---yep--1795--with plaster wall etc etc.. the wiring is not as bad as yours but we have replaced a good part of it.. if you have forced air heat which i wld bet you may--you can create electric runways next to them and re wire yourself.. all you have to do is chip, push , pull hammer , sledge and make a mess.(if not you can still do this but it is more diff since you'll have to spec out the raceways first..You can also simply "box "in raceways up and down the walls etc with 4" x 6" raceways but this will show as a 4x6 rectangular box(i.e., sheetrock) up and down wall which is what we have.Otherwise you'll have to make a mess and deal with plaster, lathing etc--a big mess but doable!! also,the raceways must be properly encased to meet code--not a difficult task. Anyway if you want to continue to do the job go to home depot and they will give you guidance on wire size for fixtures , outlets, etc...but this does get tricky so if you're not sure---call in an electricl guy --discuss with him where you'll run the raceways etc and get his quote based on all his task wld be to do is string the wires and hook them up with your help with a new ge 200 amp panel..If you're only at 100 amps you yourself cannot do the 200 upgarde--but that's outside work at your meter etc..the entire job shld not really be 20k!!!!more like 2-5k tops if you do all the raceway and help with the stringing work yourself and for the upgrade itself to 200 amps s/b $1000-1500. your part of the job is not that difficult just some dirty work and then the hook ups done by an electician who is willing to work with you..the only thing that would scare me about doing your job is what you have in the house--i cant even say the word --those slippery things scare me(my wife is terrified of spiders and i'm scared of you know what!!)have tons of fun, roy
    ps dont forget to run cable and phone.
    Last edited by royearl; 10-30-2008 at 04:32 PM. Reason: typos

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Rewiring an Old House

    stina---also--use the electricl upgrade and plumbing issues to knock the price down some---but--- buy the house...in this environment--it will only appreciate over time. this economic malaise will end in a few years and you'll have value---vs the plastic homes made today!!older homes hold their value far better than the new junk of today.

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