Being able to wire your own home can save you a lot of money on electrician fees. While it may seem daunting, with the right planning and safety precautions, I was able to rewire my entire house over a few weekends. Here is my step-by-step guide on how I wired my home without hiring a professional.
Understanding Home Wiring Basics
Before you get started, it's important to understand some home electrical basics. This will ensure you wire things properly and safely.
Learning About Voltage, Amperage, and Wattage
The three key measurements you need to know are:
- Voltage - The force that powers electricity through wires, measured in volts (V)
- Amperage - The amount of electric current flowing through a wire, measured in amps (A)
- Wattage - The rate of electric energy consumption, measured in watts (W)
Most homes have 120V and 240V circuits. 120V is standard for lighting and outlets. 240V is used for large appliances like electric dryers.
Different Types of Wires
There are a few main types of wires used:
- 14 vs 12 AWG - The wire thickness, with 12 AWG being thicker for higher amperage loads
- Solid vs stranded - Stranded is more flexible, solid is stiffer but easier to push through conduits
- Insulated vs non-insulated - Insulated is covered in plastic for safety
Electrical work must follow the National Electrical Code (NEC). Key requirements include:
- A dedicated 20A breaker for each kitchen counter top outlet
- No more than 12 outlets per 20A circuit
- No more than 10 outlets per 15A circuit
Following code ensures safety and passes inspection.
Planning the Wiring Layout
Careful planning is crucial before getting started.
Creating a Wiring Diagram
I started by creating a detailed wiring diagram showing:
- Locations of the electrical panel, outlets, switches, and appliances
- The circuit routes running from the panel to outlets
- Labels for each circuit and what it powers
This helped visualize the full scope of the project.
I also thought about potential future expansions. For example, I ran wiring to the garage for a future charging station.
Planning ahead saved me from re-running wires later.
Budgeting Time and Materials
Based on my wiring plan, I made a full material and cost list for everything I would need to purchase. I also budgeted several weekends to complete the work.
Running the Circuit Wiring
With my plan in place, I was ready to start running the new wires.
Cutting the Drywall and Drilling Holes
I used a drywall saw to cut lines where wires would be run. I also drilled holes through wall studs to run wires between rooms.
Tip: Measure twice before cutting or drilling to avoid mistakes!
Pulling and Securing the Wires
I used fish tape to pull the wires through the walls. I made sure to leave 2-3 feet of extra wire at the ends.
I used wire staples to securely fasten the wires to the studs. This prevents sagging and damage.
Labeling the Wires and Circuits
As I wired each run, I used colored electrical tape to label the wire ends. This let me easily identify each circuit at the panel.
Installing the Electrical Boxes
Once the wires were run, it was time to add the receptacles and switches.
Mounting the Boxes
I used adjustable electrical boxes so I could mount them flush to the drywall. Getting them straight and level ensures the outlets and switches will fit securely.
Running the Wires to the Boxes
I fed the pre-run wires into each box, leaving 6 inches of extra wire to make connections.
Securing the Wires
I used wire nuts to join the wires securely at each box. I made sure to wrap the connection in electrical tape as an extra safeguard against loosening.
Connecting the Wires at the Panel
The final stage was connecting all the wires to the circuit breaker panel.
Labeling the Breakers
First, I labeled each new breaker according to the circuit it controlled. This avoids confusion down the road.
Running Ground Wires
I connected all the ground wires to the ground bus bar in the panel. Proper grounding is extremely important for safety.
Connecting Hot and Neutral Wires
Finally, I attached the hot and neutral wires to their corresponding breakers, matching my wire labels for each circuit.
Testing and Troubleshooting the Circuits
With everything connected, it was time to test out the new wiring.
Turning the Power Back On
I turned the main power back on and then switched on each new breaker one at a time. This let me test each circuit individually.
Checking Voltage and Amperage
Using a multimeter, I tested the voltage and amperage at each outlet to confirm everything was wired correctly.
Fixing Any Issues
There were a couple loose connections that needed to be re-tightened. But overall the wiring went smoothly with minimal troubleshooting needed.
Completing the Project
Once all the circuits were working properly, all that was left was buttoning things up.
Patching Drywall and Painting
I used drywall compound to patch the drywall cuts and holes. A few coats of paint had the walls looking fresh again.
Installing Wall Plates
I installed wall plates over each box to provide a clean, finished look. This also prevents dust and damage inside the boxes.
Labeling the Breaker Panel
For ongoing convenience, I marked each new breaker on the panel label showing what it controls. This makes it easy down the road any time a breaker trips.
Benefits of DIY Wiring
While it was a lot of work, wiring my home myself had several great benefits:
- Saved thousands in electrician fees
- Gained useful electrical knowledge and experience
- Customized the wiring to my specific needs
- Can now easily modify or expand wiring in the future
As long as safety precautions are taken, wiring your own home is very rewarding! Just be sure to have an electrician inspect the work when complete.