How to Rewire Your 19th Century Home Without Anyone Knowing

Assessing Your Home's Electrical Needs

As the proud owner of a 19th century home, you likely want to enjoy all the modern conveniences while preserving the historic charm. Rewiring a home allows you to upgrade the electrical system to support today's power demands. However, you may not want the disruption and visibility of a major construction project. The good news is that with careful planning and strategic access points, you can rewire without anyone being the wiser!

First, take stock of your current electrical usage and future needs. Do you want to install a new kitchen with multiple appliances? Add central air conditioning? Upgrade to a tankless water heater? Run wiring for computers, home theater, and Wi-Fi? These will increase electrical load. Consult an electrician to calculate amperage requirements and determine if your existing electrical panel should be replaced.

You'll also need to evaluate the existing wiring. Knob and tube wiring found in old homes poses fire risks and should be completely removed. Check for insufficient wire gauge, degraded insulation, and lack of grounding. Replacing all of this will be required to meet modern safety codes.

Mapping Out Access Points for Rewiring

Next, you'll need to map out how to access wiring pathways without destruction. For example:

I consulted a contractor who specializes in historic remodels. He mapped out strategic access holes that followed discreet structural lines and joints while avoiding ornamental millwork. This allowed wiring to be snaked room to room with minimal wall removal.

Hiding New Wiring in Old Homes

Now for the task of rerouting new wires through your walls and ceilings while minimizing destruction. Here are helpful techniques:

By taking advantage of existing nooks and crannies or incorporating strategic trim pieces, new wiring can practically disappear!

Patching and Repairs

Finally, you'll need to patch and repair the relatively minor damage that occurs.

With careful prep work, new wiring can be accomplished with barely a trace. Then you can relax and enjoy all your modern electrical amenities!

My Experience Rewiring My 1906 Victorian House

I recently completed a total rewire of my 1906 Queen Anne Victorian using concealed access techniques. Here's how it went:

Planning: I hired an electrician experienced in old homes. We mapped wiring pathways that took advantage of unfinished attic and basement space. The minimal necessary wall holes were planned - all strategically concealed or able to be patched. I also consulted a contractor about moldingrepair for the small amount of unavoidable minor damage that would need to be repaired.

Running Wire: The new wiring fed to modern breaker panel in the basement. From there, we fished wires through original ducts and shafts. Access holes to each room were cut in closets, behind furniture, and above ceiling trim. The flat, flexible armored cable made the turns easily.

Patching: I spackled nail holes, using paint touch-ups. The contractor repaired a damaged crown molding section and some cracked baseboard joint putty on one corner. You'd never know holes were made!

Restoration: You can't even tell I have all updated, safe electrical capacity! With careful planning and problem-solving, I have a house wired to support modern needs. But to observers, it retains full historic architectural integrity. It was a success!