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Old 08-03-2007, 02:12 PM
92 posts, read 330,441 times
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Hi all,

I am in the market for a home. Lots of homes in a nice area are around 50 yrs old. What problems can we expect at that age?
I am especially concerned w/ electricity and plumbing. Thanks!
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Old 08-03-2007, 02:56 PM
1,408 posts, read 7,394,153 times
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it really depends on the house. my home was built in '58 but when my dh and i bought it the plumbing was updated and so was the electric. However, the furnace is original (it's gigantic) but it's still going strong. We also do not have central air but that's okay with us. we did have to replace the roof (we had spots that had 3 layers ). We only have one bathroom. We have really great hardwood floors though. if there's paneling, it might just be attached to the studs (you won't know till you tear it out) unless of course it's REAL wood paneling which is beautiful.
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Old 08-03-2007, 05:08 PM
Location: Sometimes Maryland, sometimes NoVA. Depends on the day of the week
1,501 posts, read 10,768,356 times
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As far as electric, you shouldn't have aluminum wiring (1965-1973), but there are other things to watch out for. If it hasn't been upgraded, you may have 2 wire (ungrounded) outlets. Also, you will probably not have enough circuits. Todays electronics draw far more power than the house was designed for, so you might want to have some new circuits run to the living room and kitchen. Also, check for GFIs in the kitchen, bath, and garage. As far as the panel (break box), make sure its not a fuse box or a Federal Pacific (FPE) brand. Ideally, you want 200 amp service, and hopefully someone has upgraded it. 50 years is right at the end of the rag wire era, but you might not be able to look for that. If you can get into a utility room or a basement with exposed wiring, then look for rag wire.
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Old 08-03-2007, 06:24 PM
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As was already said, there are potential electrical issues- ungrounded outlets (or 3-prong outlets that were installed in place of the 2-pronged, but not properly grounded), undersized incoming service for today's electrical needs, and FP panels that are prone to fires.

On the plumbing side, you may find galvanized piping in both the supply and waste/drain piping. On the supply side, it rots from the inside out, so it may look solid but be one day away from rusting through. On the waste/drain side, the glavanized pipes tend to build up deposits from grease, hair, etc., and a 2" pipe can easily drop down to 1/2" inside. Incoming water services can also be undersized, and you may find low flows at faucets.

From a heating perspective, you may find asbestos insulation on piping if you have a hot water or steam heating system. If the original boiler/furnace is still in place, it's likely due for a replacement as well.

Exterior envelope issues could include single-pane glass in the windows (very energy-inefficient), and multiple layers of roofing that will need to be removed when a new roof is needed (you're typically only allowed two layers on a roof). Insulation in the walls and ceilings is likely below today's code requirements, so you'll be sending a lot of heated/cooled air to the outside world.

On the other hand, you could end up with none of these problems. The 1952 cape we just sold had all new electrical and plumbing systems that we installed, as well as a brand new boiler. There were new windows, roofing (stripped to the sheathing) and siding as well.

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Old 08-03-2007, 06:46 PM
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I think the previous posters have just about covered the electrical and plumbing problems. Let me add a couple possibles about the construction part.

If you are in a termite zone, make sure it has been treated and there are NO signs of temites anywhere. And make sure the foundation has termite shields.

Check all the boards around the eaves of the house for rot. Get a ladder so you can get up there and poke it for soft spots. Especially where the eaves meet at right angles. Boards don't last forever.

If it's 50 years old, it probably has rock wook insulation instead of fiberglass. Look in the attic and see if it would be possible to lay fiberglass batting on top. While you are up there, check for leaks and mice. Mice you can get rid of yourself, leaks are going to cost you money. You might need a new roof.
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:27 PM
Location: Jax
8,204 posts, read 32,212,809 times
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Smile Great topic!

In Florida, and possibly in your neck of the woods, a lot of insurance companies are now requiring 4-point inspections for older homes. So, you may want to take a close look at:

1) Plumbing (you don't want to see any grey pipe - called "polybutylene")

2) Electric (covered well above - you want to be sure you have at least 150 amp)

3) AC (as long as the AC is running strong, it should pass...some of the older systems are better than the new)

4) Roof (insurers want to know the roof has a minumum of 5 years of life left)

If these 4 things look good, then you'll have no problem insuring the home (a growing problem for may of us...maybe not so bad if you're in Illinois?).
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Old 08-05-2007, 03:04 PM
Location: Old Town Alexandria
14,505 posts, read 23,771,456 times
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Originally Posted by MovingIL View Post
Hi all,

I am in the market for a home. Lots of homes in a nice area are around 50 yrs old. What problems can we expect at that age?
I am especially concerned w/ electricity and plumbing. Thanks!

Well when I sold my house in NY (suburbs) that I inherited, there were the following expenses:

1. Too much molding and ornate windowsills as wood rot starts on the window, sometimes.

2. Aged tile- in kitchen, and Master bath (nightmare pink and black retro)- also BR were made way too small, as well as closets.

3. The flagstone on front began falling off. A nightmare to fix.

4. small garage with wood rot and entire door needing to be replaced.

5. Upstairs bath had blood maroon color tile, with a sky blue floor and all sky blue fixtures tub/toilet/etc.

Updating and fixing the wallpaper is a big and expensive job especially if you want to make your house look more updated, and have a CLEANER APPEARANCE- I DONT KNOW WHAT IT WAS IN THE 50'S, BUT THEY HAD SOME STRANGE DESCORATING COLORS AND IDEAS. Just my own experience

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Old 01-17-2009, 04:44 PM
1 posts, read 19,544 times
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2.Lead Paint
3 Oil Tank in ground
4.Knob and Tube Wiring
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Old 01-17-2009, 05:37 PM
24,843 posts, read 32,384,569 times
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Old water wells.
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Old 01-17-2009, 05:56 PM
Location: Alexandria, VA
11,419 posts, read 20,254,648 times
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Unlike the a previous poster, I'd love to have retro. in the bathroom(s), well maybe one.

Our house was built in 50-something (as have all in this neighborhood), you need to see what has been upgraded, if there have been several owners, there probably have been upgrades. If they've upgraded bathrooms, kitchen, etc. - then wiring, plumbing, etc. is most likely up to code.
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