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Question DetailsAsked on 3/17/2012

Is it worth upgrading electrical in an apartment 4-plex built in 1950?

We recently purchased 4-plex built in 1950 that needs electrical upgrades as per home inspector's advise. There are fuse boxes outside the building and in each unit in the closet. We spoke with 5 different electricians and everybody advises different things... The apartment complex is located to low-to-middle class neighborhood with homes similar to ours, there are no A/C or any high-power devices on the property. Is it worth redoing the whole electrical up to code? I want tenants to be SAFE, but if we start touching the electrical, we will have to bring it up to the code, and it may be very expensive with changing all the wires inside walls and underground. Or we can leave it as is (as in "grandfathering"), and just install breakers instead of fuse boxes...
what do you think?

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

To answer your first question about it being worth
It to upgrade the system, it depends on how
You look at the situation. If the system is fire hazard
Then you are taking a chance by leaving it the way
It currently is. Your insurance company might
Not cover an incident caused by a fire-hazard
System if an upgrade is past due.
On the other hand, by upgrading the system,
Your property value increases which is a plus.
With all that being said, you need to find out if your
System is considered "fire hazard". If it is, then
You are safety and financial wise better off upgrading
Your fuse box.
We have notices many incidents with the following
Type if fuse boxes: Zinsco, Federal Pacific, and
Some old Square D breakers.
Also technically all systems need to be upgraded
Every 35-40 years.
Hope this helps.

Answered 8 years ago by ArmorElectric


I think you will find that your insurer will require the fuse boxes be replaced with circuit breaker panels. Each unit's new panels will be required to be rated at a minimum of 80 amps.

As an electrician, the only people I know who get shocked are power company employees and other electricians. The only electrically caused fires I personally know of were caused by wiring that never met any code, even an old one.
Another cause of fire, I'm personally familiar with, results from an electric heater pluged into a loose receptacle.

However, insurance companies and fire departments will have a completely different view on this matter. They are looking at thousands households and businesses. I'm looking at a few hundered.

Here is the minimum:
1. Make sure all receptacles tightly retain plugs.
2. Make sure all receptacles are unobstructed by bedding, clutter or fruniture.

Answered 8 years ago by Kestrel Electric


My opinion is that if the building was built in 1950, then the entire electrical system should probably be upgraded. I haven't seen any that old that didn't have widespread deterioration of everything including the devices (outlets & switches), the wiring, the breaker/fuse panel, and the service feed.

Answered 8 years ago by JGHamm

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