New houses are generally outfitted to accommodate the use of all our modern technologies, appliances and conveniences. Many homes have large tech-savvy televisions, microwave ovens, computers and devices throughout. Today’s electrical construction accounts for them. But many older structures were built with the electrical needs of those times in mind and that may put you on the outside looking in when it comes to enjoying technology. Older construction may also be below current safety codes and you can’t put a price on peace of mind when it comes to the safety of your family. If you’re considering rewiring in your Des Moines home, here are 10 things to consider.
1. Do You Need New Wiring?
Older homes often have outdated electrical wiring in terms of safety and the ability to adequately provide the necessary current of modern electronics. Some simply are not in compliance with basic electrical codes either. Here is a short list of things that would lend strong consideration to a complete electrical overhaul:
- Knob and Tube: This type of wiring can be found in homes built before 1940. If untouched, these systems may be running okay in small residential homes. However, you run a greater risk of fire by keeping K&T because the systems may not be grounded and are designed to let heat resonate outward toward potentially combustible materials.
- Aluminum Wiring: About two million U.S. homes have aluminum electrical wiring and many experts view this as a significant hazard. Aluminum wiring requires a specialized level of safety installation at each outlet, switch and junction box. Without this, or if it has been damaged or tampered with over the years, aluminum wiring could just be a fire waiting to happen. Get rid of it.
- Scorch Marks: Outlets and light switches should remain cool. If you see charred areas or if they feel hot, you have a serious electrical problem. It may be limited to a particular switch or the entire system may be faulty. Either way, get it looked at by a licensed professional ASAP.
- Circuit Breakers: When circuit breakers become overloaded, they shut off as a safety mechanism. If yours are tripping regularly, there is an issue that needs to be addressed by an electrician.
- Other Warning Signs: If you find that your lights dim, electrical connections are loose, or you see frayed wires, sparks, or have been shocked, these are all signs that you have a problem. Have your system looked at by a licensed electrician.
2. Reasons To Want New Wiring
Electrical systems installed in homes that were built during the 1980s or earlier have difficulty keeping up with the demands our modern electronics place on them. Some still have 60 amp limits in contrast to 100-200 amps of new homes. Think about the technological progress for a minute. In the ’80s, homes had smaller televisions, limited video games, virtually no computers, few devices to recharge and only 25 percent of homes had a microwave oven. And, we’re not even thinking about the future of the electric car. You probably find yourself using surge protectors with multiple plugs-ins when you really need more outlets in your home. The bottom line is that enjoying modern conveniences means more convenient electricity stations.
3. How To Choose An Electrician
It’s a very bad idea to try to rewire your own home. Unless you happen to be an electrician, you may put you and your family in harm’s way. If something goes wrong or there’s a fire, your insurance may not cover the loss. Hire a professional. Selecting the right electrician for you is a bit of a process. It’s important that homeowners treat this as a business deal and not a personal arrangement. It’s advisable to take the follow steps and do your due diligence:
- Create a detailed scope of work document
- Field multiple, free, no obligation quotes
- Check with your State to ensure the electrician is licensed
- Read their business reviews online
- Check Better Business Bureau ratings
- Check into litigation history. Have they been sued or filed bankruptcy?
- Ask questions about start to finish time
- Avoid the use of subcontractors.
Sign a contract that includes the cost, payment installments, scope of work in detail, labor hours, job time frame, and a method to agree upon potential overages
4. Should I Get An Electrical Permit?
The simple answer is: Yes. It’s in your best interest to have the electrician pull a permit under his or her license. Most states require permits to alter or install new wiring although a drawn electrical plan may not be required on an existing residential home. For you, as a homeowner, a permit means that your home will be inspected and that ensures electrical codes are met and the property is safe for you and your family to occupy.
5. Should Electrical Contractor Be Bonded?
Again, the simple answer is: Yes. A contract or construction bond as they are referred to ensures that everything in your contract is fulfilled by the electrical contractor. For the purposes of having your home rewired, there are two types that are of particular importance to you.
- Payment Bond: If your contractor does subcontract work to others and does not pay them properly or goes bankrupt, these unpaid or underpaid parties could put a lien on your property. With a bond in place, industry people can recoup losses without dragging you into a legal quagmire.
- Performance Bond: These are generally tied to the agreement you reach and protect you from shoddy work, failure to meet job specifications, and provide money to complete the project if the contractor doesn’t. Basically, a performance bond is your contingency plan.
6. What Will It Cost?
Rewiring an average home can entail about 40 hours of work and electricians generally charge between $40 and $100 per hour, depending on their certification and experience. Standard materials that meet current codes average approximately $1,500, although costs vary from region to region. Expect the average-sized home to cost somewhere between $4,000 and $5,500 for basic work only. Items that can increase this cost include fixtures, luxury items, difficulty of installation and an additional big ticket item can be the need to upgrade to a 100-200 amp electrical panel. It’s a good idea to have the contractor provide line item costs in your agreement. Also, budget for potential cost overruns. Once walls are opened up, you never know what problems you’ll find.
7. How Invasive Is Rewiring in Des Moines?
The simple answer is: Very. Keep in mind that most wires are not easily accessible. They are inside the walls or under floors. There will likely be areas where the electrician will need to do demolition and these will require repair, plastering and paint later. The good news is that because you have a detailed contract that identifies the work areas, you’ll have a good idea what to expect during the process.
8. How Long Will You Be Without Power?
Once you start the project, it’s likely that you will be without power for a period of time. Generally, rewiring a home takes anywhere from 3 to 10 days. More complicated jobs can take longer. It’s important that you outline the start and finish times in your signed agreement. Plenty of contractors are juggling multiple jobs at the same time. A driving factor for some contractors is where the next pay installment is coming. The may shift their resources for financial reasons and balance getting a next check with your patience.
9. How To Manage Life Under Construction?
It’s a good idea to not be around while workers are dismantling your home. Seeing holes being knocked into walls can be very stressful, even though it will all be put back together in the end. Beyond that, there will likely be time without or with limited power. Hot water may not be available, stoves may not work among other inconveniences. Here are a few tips on managing the process.
- Unplug all electronics before work begins
- Have construction end at a certain time daily and retake your home after that
- Have a gym or YMCA membership in place in order to shower
- Wash all your laundry before the start date
- Stay at a hotel for a few key days and make a mini vacation out of it
- Be sure you emptied all the frozen and perishable goods from refrigerators
- Prepare for well pumps to lose prime
- Plan to grill meals outdoors or get lots of take-out
10. What are the benefits?
By rewiring in your De Moines home, several personal and financial goals can be achieved that may include:
- Ability to upgrade electronics and appliances
- Convenience and efficiency
- Lower insurance rates
- Increased property value
- Tax deductions
- Safety and peace of mind
To say that electrical wiring ages like fine wine wouldn’t be correct, unless you mean it turns into vinegar. Time, changing needs and technological advancements will mean updating a home’s electricity at some point. Maybe electrical wiring is more like a trendy craft beer. It’s great for a while, until something better comes along or it just gets old.
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