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Right Path to Get Electrical Inspections In An Old House

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Posted by: from Newmarket
4/19/2022 at 9:36:11 PM

My house is 80+ years old. I'm pretty sure that the home handyman former owner added a lot of outlets, switches, and lighting in the basement 30-40 years ago. This is based on what I know of the history and the previous owner (not around anymore) and also, the original 80 year old wiring on the main floors is two-wire (no ground) but the stuff in the basement has the third ground wire. I don't see anything that concerns me from a safety point of view, it all looks carefully done and code compliant (though I'm not an electrician myself). But I'm concerned what will happen if I have to get new work done and inspected.

I know that a homeowner nowadays can't do much more than replacing switches, outlets and light fixtures in existing boxes. So 30-40 years ago, was the homeowner allowed to do more than that e.g. hook up a string of outlets around a room? Maybe some older electricians can fill me in.

What's the right path to getting all this ancient work properly inspected? I don't want the inspector tearing off drywall or condemning the house!

REPLIES (4)
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Date/Time4/20/2022 at 8:50:46 AM

Hi George.

Thanks for posting on TrustedPros.

After reading your post I believe that you're raising two issues, how to feel confident with the wiring in your house and how the inspection process works here in Ontario.

Feeling confident with the integrity of your electrical system is important and a necessary step toward making this house your home. Guessing and speculating doesn't help because neither activity offers up proof of any kind. Instead, I suggest you hire an electrical contractor who offers a whole home assessment. They should have a checklist that covers distribution (panel, meter base, exterior service components), HVAC, general use outlets inside and outside, lighting, safety devices and so forth. There would certainly be a cost to this assessment but it is well worth it. They should also rate each item: needs immediate attention, not urgent, and to do eventually.

In terms of the inspection process, an electrical safety authority inspector will only inspect the scope of work outlined in whatever notification of electrical work you submit or your electrical contractor submits. I'm referring to new electrical work.

In terms of existing electrical, will the inspector look around your property, pick apart everything they see and defect your existing electrical? Not likely, but if the inspector sees something that is an obvious and immediate risk to property or people he will mention it to you. If it's serious he may write it up and expect it be repaired.

Whoever you hire to either do your whole home assessment or to do new work will be able to guide you.

We wish you all the best!

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Mark from CMJ Renovations in Oakville
Date/Time4/20/2022 at 8:29:51 PM

You may want to look at a company like Bernie Home safe, they will do a full inspection and literally look at every plug and advise you to what is safe and may need fixed.

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George in Newmarket
Date/Time4/20/2022 at 10:09:04 PM

Henry and Mark,

Thank you for the constructive suggestions!

George

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Date/Time4/23/2022 at 10:57:54 AM

I deal with this all the time and codes have changed several times over the last 100 years. basically an existing year of house older than 30 years will have many illegal things but are allowed to keep it. Anytime you do a reno you have to then "upgrade" to current code. If there is no issues anywhere then don't worry about it. However if you want to feel safer then call any "master electrician" to inspect the house, grounds if any and any areas you are worried about and that's it! He can also advise you of costs if you want to majke any changes/repairs.

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