Dear All-Star: I am buying a house built in 1968 and I am concerned about the electrical system being up to today’s standards. What are the areas I should investigate?
We typically use more electrical devices today than we did back in 1968! What was considered large at 100 amps is today just adequate. As always your biggest concern should be safety. Do not open an electrical panel unless you are aware of the basic safety precautions to use around live electricity.
In a 1968 home the basic things to look at are:
How large are the main breakers? 2, 100 amp, 120 volt breakers clearly labeled as “
Does the panel meet common standards? Panels should be weatherproof, accessible, and have thirty-six inches of clear space in front of them for service. They should have a main disconnect, and each circuit within the panel should be labeled.
Are the wires installed neatly? Professional electricians bend wire like artists. Messy panels are indicative of a poor quality installation, and make it impossible to view each circuit.
Is the panel grounded? The best type of ground is a copper wire to a copper rod, driven six feet into the ground. The ground may include the water pipes as well as the driven rod. If you cannot find it ask a professional!
Grounding is important because electricity will always take the shortest path to ground and that should be a ground wire -not you or your family! Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles designed for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms will not operate at all if there is no ground attached to them. We have seen installations of these life saving devices without the correct wiring to make them operate. New homes are required to install Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) breakers for outlets in bedrooms. Your 1968 home may not have these devices but if the electrical system is neatly installed and properly grounded these modern safety items can be added at minimal cost.
Good luck and if there is any question be sure to ask a Certified Home Inspector for the details. If you have a question or want to respond to this article please contact us at: www.allstarinspector.com