How much does it cost to have a electric box rewire?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ August 16, 2010 ~ Comments

I have an older home, 1950's, that needs some electrical work. How much does it cost to have a electric box rewired? The whole box is a mess. What should I look for in an electrician?

Tex ~ Boston, Massachusetts

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Tex, Giving a price for redoing an electrical panel without seeing it can be pretty tough as the job could be very simple or it could be very complex. You mention that the wiring is a mess, do you mean that breakers keep tripping or fuses keep blowing? If it's a question of your breakers continuing to trip, it could be as easy as replacing a few breakers which should be fairly inexpensive. If you still have fuses, then it might be a good idea to go ahead and have those updated to a breaker type system.

One of the problems with doing anything other than replacing the breakers in an electrical panel is that you are opening yourself up to having to meet modern electrical code. This isn't really a bad thing as faulty electrical wiring can be a safety and fire hazard, but it can become an expensive thing. Luckily your old house isn't really an old house when compared to other old houses around the Boston, Massachusetts area. The 1950s weren't that long ago, and your wiring might not be as bad as you think it is. I'm sure there are older houses in Boston that had electricity added many years ago and have never had an inspection of any type.

I would look for an electrician who has been in business for a while and has some experience with older homes. Again, it doesn't need to be experience with historic or colonial homes, just homes with electric services from the era of your home. Make sure they have their professional and business licenses and that all of their insurance is up to date. I would get estimates from at least 3 electricians if for no other reason than to allow several sets of eyes to look at your electrical panel and make a determination as to the scope of work required. I would also check references on all of the electricians that bid the work.

Concerning the pricing, if it is just a matter of replacing the breakers, the cost might only be several hundred dollars or even less. However, if the wiring is as bad as you say, and the house needs to be rewired, then the costs are going to go into the thousands depending on the size of your home. To replace bad wiring in the electrical panel you have to replace the entire wire going into the panel which means fishing new wiring in your walls. If you have a large two story home, this can rapidly become a large project. However, if your wiring is bad, it should be worth it to avoid any major problems down the road. If it turns out that the job is more extensive than just replacing the breakers, it might be a good time to upgrade your service if it is less than 200 amp.

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