Rewiring a home can seem like a daunting task best left to professionals. However, with some planning and basic electrical knowledge, a homeowner can safely rewire certain parts of their house without hiring an electrician. This allows you to save money and gain the satisfaction of completing a major DIY project.
1. Research and Learn Electrical Basics First
Before attempting any electrical work, I made sure to educate myself on electrical basics and safety. I read books, watched online tutorials, and studied basic home electrical systems. Key concepts I focused on learning included:
- How electricity flows through a circuit
- Common house wiring, including Romex and BX cables
- Basic electrical components like outlets, switches, junction boxes
- Electrical safety and avoiding shock/fire hazards
Gaining this fundamental knowledge gave me the confidence to start basic rewiring projects. I also learned what work would require a professional electrician.
"I spent several weekends reading up on home electrical systems. This gave me a solid base before trying any rewiring myself."
2. Replace Switches and Outlets
One of the easiest DIY electrical projects is replacing old outlets and light switches. I started with straightforward like-for-like swaps before moving onto adding new switches and outlets.
When replacing an outlet or switch:
- Turn off power to the circuit at the breaker box
- Carefully disconnect and detach the old component
- Match the new component wiring to the original setup
- Secure the new outlet/switch and test it is functioning properly before turning power back on
Replacing old switches and outlets helped update the look of my home while building my electrical confidence.
3. Install New Light Fixtures
Installing new light fixtures is another basic rewiring task a homeowner can complete. I was able to upgrade outdated boob lights and hanging lights throughout my home.
When installing a new fixture:
- Turn off power at the breaker
- Remove the old fixture and disconnect the wiring
- Match the wiring of the new light fixture to the house wiring
- Secure the new fixture directly to the electrical box
- Turn power back on and test the new light works properly
This let me upgrade my home's lighting to modern LED fixtures with improved brightness.
4. Run New Circuits and Wiring
Once I developed more expertise, I began running all-new wiring circuits for new outlets and switches. This involved:
- Mapping out where the new wires would run from the breaker to endpoints
- Drilling holes through walls/floors to route new wiring
- Fish wiring through walls and secure with clamps
- Terminate wires with new outlets, switches and fixtures
- Connect circuits at the main breaker panel
While challenging, completing new circuits greatly expanded the functionality of my home.
5. Upgrade the Electrical Panel
One major project was upgrading my outdated breaker panel to a modern 200 amp system. This involved:
- Researching which new panel would fit my home needs
- Disconnecting all wires from the old breaker panel
- Removing the old breaker box completely
- Installing a new exterior panel with spacious interior
- Re-connecting all the existing wires to new circuit breakers
While complicated, I saved over $1000 in electrician fees by upgrading the panel myself. This also prepared my home's electrical system for future high-power needs.
6. Install Specialty Outlets
Once comfortable with basic wiring, I moved on to installing specialty electrical outlets. A few I've added include:
- USB outlets - for convenient device charging
- Outdoor outlets - for landscaping needs
- Kitchen split outlets - to support multiple appliances
- 220V dryer outlet - when hooking up a new dryer/appliance
These unique outlets let me adapt my home electrics to modern needs and devices.
7. Know When to Call a Professional
While many wiring projects are DIY-friendly, some situations clearly require a licensed electrician, such as:
- Major service panel upgrades above 200 amps
- New wiring circuits over 30 amps
- Whole house rewiring jobs
- Swimming pool or spa electrics
- Complicated 3-way switch systems
I always research if a project requires certified electrician work. Attempting advanced electrical work without proper expertise can risk fire or electrocution.
In summary, by learning electrical basics and taking proper safety precautions, homeowners can safely rewire many parts of a home themselves. This lets you upgrade lighting, outlets, switches and more while avoiding electrician fees. However, always know your limits - certain projects do require calling a professional. With practice and experience, you may be surprised how much electrical work you can confidently take on!