What Rewiring Does A 1960s House Need?
Common Wiring Issues in Old Homes: 1960s-1980s
Today we will explore homes that were built in the latter half. Massive changes brought about during the 1960s and 1970s. As our lifestyles began to shift, our electricity needs increased. As a result, we needed to change the electrical systems we used to meet those new standards.
Up the Amps
Most houses were operated easily with 60 amp systems during the 1950s. The amperage was increased to 100 by the 1960s. This enabled homeowners to power all of their microwave, dishwasher, and fridge on one circuit. While this was great for our groovy grandparents, it is not enough to sustain our modern appliances with this increase. New homes are being built with multiple dedicated circuits because each of our appliances uses that much more power. Because there was limited space for breakers on the 100 amp panels from the 1960s, those who still have those units in their home will need a sub-panel or a new panel.
The Start of GFCI
The ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, was invented by electrical engineer Charles Dalziel in 1961. This system is a circuit breaker that in the event of a ground-fault can shut down electric power. This happens when electricity leaks through the ground, rather than going back along the circuit. Ground-faults are not just energy waste — they can lead to electrical shock, burns, and even fire. After their invention the use of GFCIs was sluggish at first. Initially they were used only around pools. They were ultimately expected to be installed in the bathrooms. But it wasn’t until 1987 that GFCIs were allowed to be used within six feet of a sink in garages and any receptacle. It is something they’ll need an electrician to inspect and rectify for homeowners with houses constructed prior to that year.
Before the 1960s copper was the most frequently used material in household wiring. But a massive shortage left the cost to the average homeowner for this metal way too high. As a result, builders turned to new-build aluminum wiring. Aluminum is a great conductor and has been fairly inexpensive, so the natural option has been that. Unfortunately, a few years later, in homes with aluminum wiring, a series of electric fires sprang up. You see, they did not make any changes to the light switches or receptacles when the industry switched on to aluminum wiring. Such systems all had copper or other metal terminals. What people discovered quickly was that when paired, there would be a corrosive chemical reaction between two dissimilar metals. So while aluminum cabling is not in and of itself dangerous, it requires close inspection to determine if it will be safe for your home.
Homes built since the 1960s tend to need less overhaul than their predecessors of the early century, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own unique challenges. If you own an older home, having a professional electrician check the house for any of these issues is crucial.
Considering Electrical Upgrades and Improvements for Your Home?
At Frontline Electrical Services we love helping our clients feel safe and secure in their homes and businesses. If you are in the Benicia, Walnut Creek or Fairfield, California or surrounding areas, contact us today at 800-945-0268 (here is a map to our location) and we’ll have one of our certified specialists review your home’s current electrical grid and give you the best upgrades possible to suit your needs while maintaining the safety and security of your property!