Rewiring a house is a big project. So if you are hunting for houses, you want to avoid buying one that needs rewiring unless you get it for a really low price. Fortunately, inspecting a house for signs that the wiring is old and outdated is not very tough. Here's how to quickly assess the state of the wiring.

1. Turn all of the lights on and off.

Grab a pack of new light bulbs, and then start walking through the home. As you go, turn the lights on and off in each room. If a light does not turn on, change the bulb. (This is to confirm that the issue is actually the wiring, and not just the bulb.) If the light still does not turn on with a new bulb, this could be a sign of old wiring -- especially if a few different lights don't turn on. Lights that flicker can also indicate damaged wiring.

2. Feel the outlets.

Next, walk through the home and feel the outlet plates. Especially take the time to feel the outlets into which appliances have been plugged. If any of the outlets feel warm, or if the areas to the side of the outlets feel warm, this can be a sign of failing wiring. You should also note any smoky or burning smells that emerge from the outlets. 

3. Look for exposed wiring.

If you are able to get down into the basement and see some of the wires coming into the circuit box, do so. If you see any wiring that is not copper-colored, this is a bad sign. For a few years, electricians used to install aluminum wiring in homes. Aluminum wires can heat up and start on fire very easily, so you should have aluminum wiring replaced ASAP.

4. Listen for buzzing.

You should listen closely as you walk through the home, plugging things in and turning on lights. If you hear any buzzing noises coming from the wires, be wary. This is almost always a sign of failing wires, and it's very common in homes with aluminum wiring. You may also notice the buzzing if you walk past a large appliance like a refrigerator or oven.

If you think the home you want to buy might have electrical issues, talk to an electrical contractor. They can more carefully look over the home and tell you whether they agree that it needs new wires.