How can I tell....wiring question.

We own an old home, early 1900's from what we've heard. The wiring was apparently updated at least once as we have 3 prong outlets throughout, ceiling fixtures in all the rooms, etc.
However, we have some breakers that blow fairly often and lights dimming from other appliances running, that type of thing.
We have considered having the house rewired but don't know if that's necessary. We've lived here 17 years and have always been leary of the wiring. We do on occasion have problems with mice (we're in a rural area) and I'm always worried that they've been chewing the wiring. I think we're just afraid of what we can't see, what the wiring's like behind the sheetrock.
How does an electrician even tell if the wiring is safe aside from the electrical box and I guess it's called the load that it's expected to handle?
Can anyone give me some guidance before I start having people give me estimates? We replaced all of the light fixtures and outlets ourselves so I know they're okay.
TIA....Lorraine
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Re-wiring is a rather all inclusive term. Thee should be no reason to re-wire if the existing wire is deemed to be in good condition. You may, however, need some updating.
You want to check what size service you have coming into the house. Most homes today have 100 amp service, but years ago, 30 amp was considered adequate. Then 60 was the norm. Look at the meter and the main panel. Does the big main breaker say how many amps? If less than 100, you want to update. There is also an inspection sticker that has the date it was approved. That will tell you just how old it is.
Dimming is caused by a heavy load on one circuit. It can happen if an air conditioner kicks on or an iron heats up. It should not be bothered if another light is turned on. You may need more service or you may want to break down some of the circuits that exist.
I don't know about mice. I've heard stories, but have not seen any results of chewing. Ed
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I had a mouse chew through some romex in a cabinet. The result was sufficient to vaporize half the mouse. Since there were paper napkins in the cabinet, it could have been much worse. (though cleaning up a vaporized mouse is bad enough)
If it can happen in a cabinet, it can happen in a wall.
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A visual inspection beginning at the service entrance and continuing throughout the house would be a start. Next would be crawling around in the attic looking for damage from rodents and inspecting the wiring visible in the basement. Another thing to do would be to open up some switches and outlets and see the condition of the feeders. An electrician could also put an ammeter on the circuits that have been tripping out to see what the actual load is. It is also possible to have someone in to test the wiring and get a written report, but that could be expensive and the money would be better spent on rewiring. It is also possible to have someone come in with a fiber optic inspection camera who would drill some small holes and peer into your walls. That is also expensive and probably won't turn up much more than a visual inspection.
A quick visual inspection and determination would be free. Everything else would be an hourly rate. I can usually get an idea of the overall age of the wiring and its condition from looking in the basement and the service entrance and main panel. Also a visual inspection of the water meter and the main grounding conductor connection is important. Another visual indicator is the overall condition of the house. Houses that have recurring water or moisture problems are likely to have rusted armored cables and junction boxes. Homes without many outlets may have a lot of extension cords in use. Houses that have been wired by homeowners tend to have obvious indicators regarding that (Small junction boxes, boxes not mounted properly and without covers, ground wires not connected or improperly connected, sloppy wiring runs, switches and outlets that do odd functions, wires hanging out, lack of code compliance, etc).
If the circuits that have been tripping circuit breakers contain any heavy duty appliances, then those appliances may need a separate circuit.
If rodents chewing on wires is a problem, then you could request that the electrician install armored cable instead of plastic jacketed NM.
John Grabowski http://www.mrelectrician.tv

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (lorraine) wrote in

One thing to look for. Are the wires plastic jacketed, or paper jacketed? If they are like a black woven covering....I would definately suggest upgrading. The paper on the wires will crack over time, exposing the bare wire. Rodent damage is very possible. I re-wired an old house once, that still had the exposed, two-wire insulator mounted wiring. (Surface mounted) I've run upon many homes with the old paper clad wiring in them, it usually doesn't take long to find a deteriorated section, especially if it's in a vibration-prone area.
--
Anthony

You can't 'idiot proof' anything....every time you try, they just make
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Your kidding,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, right. how can we see what is happening from here. You are less than specific on your situation. Any advice from an remote source could be dangerous..... Consult a local professional;
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