How to Rewire Your Home With Cloth-Insulated Copper Wiring
Rewiring a home with cloth-insulated copper wiring can provide increased safety, reliability, and efficiency compared to outdated wiring methods. Cloth-insulated copper wiring was commonly installed in homes built before the 1960s. While this type of wiring has lasted for decades, it can deteriorate over time. Replacing it with modern wiring ensures electrical safety and prepares the home for modern loads and electronics. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how I rewired my home with cloth-insulated copper wiring.
Reasons to Rewire
Here are some key reasons why I chose to rewire my home:
- Old cloth-insulated wiring is prone to deterioration and damage over time. This can lead to dangerous shorts, sparks, fires, and shocks.
- New wiring is insulated with more durable and fire-resistant materials. This greatly reduces electrical hazards.
- As wiring ages, connections can come loose. This can cause intermittent outages and flickering lights.
- New solid copper wiring provides steady and dependable power throughout the home.
- Old wiring may not be adequate for today's electrical loads and devices. This can lead to tripped breakers, dim lights, and slow appliances.
- New wiring is sized appropriately for modern power demands. This allows all electrical devices to operate optimally.
- Rewiring increases the value and desirability of the home for future buyers. It shows the home's electrical system is up-to-date and safe.
Planning the Rewiring Project
Careful planning is crucial before starting a large rewiring project. Here are some key steps I took in planning my rewiring project:
Selecting a Licensed Electrician
- I only considered electricians who were fully licensed and insured. This helps ensure quality work.
- I obtained quotes from 3-4 electricians to compare pricing.
- I checked reviews and references to verify their expertise and professionalism.
Budgeting and Timeline
- I got a detailed quote outlining all costs - materials, labor, permits, etc.
- I budgeted 20% extra to allow for contingencies during the project.
- The electrician provided a timeline estimate for the project.
- I planned around potential power outages and disruptions.
- The electrician pulled all required permits and scheduled inspections.
- Permits ensure compliance with electrical codes.
Developing a Rewiring Plan
- The electrician did a thorough assessment of the existing wiring and panels.
- We developed a plan for running new wiring and placing outlets, switches, and fixtures.
- The plan optimized wire routes for efficiency while minimizing destruction of walls and ceilings.
Running New Wires
The actual rewiring required accessing and replacing all the wires in the home. Here is an overview of the process:
Accessing the Wiring
- The electrician opened up all walls and ceilings to access old wiring runs. This involved removing drywall, plaster, and insulation.
- Access holes focused on common wire routes like along floor joists.
- We took pictures before dismantling to help with putting things back together.
Removing Old Wires
- The electrician identified each wire circuit and disconnected it from the panel.
- He pulled out all the old brittle, cloth-wrapped wiring.
- Any reusable plastic-sheathed wire was kept in place.
Running New Wires
- The electrician ran brand new copper wiring along the planned routes.
- I opted for thicker 12 AWG wire for increased capacity.
- He used plastic insulated NM (nonmetallic) cable for safety and flexibility.
- Key tools used included fish tape, cable staplers, wire strippers, and crimpers.
Installing Outlets, Switches, and Fixtures
- The electrician installed all new outlets, switches, and junction boxes throughout the home.
- Light fixtures were replaced with new energy efficient models.
- Bathroom ventilation fans were installed to current code.
- The wiring was clearly labeled at termination points.
Inspecting and Completing the Job
The final steps were to inspect, test, and finish the rewired home:
- The county inspector checked over the new wiring and verified compliance with the electrical code.
- The electrician made any corrections noted during inspection.
- Once inspected, the electrician energized each circuit to test it was working properly.
- He checked for proper voltage and polarity on all outlets.
- Lighting circuits were verified as fully functional.
- With the wiring complete, I reinsulated and patched all the opened walls and ceilings.
- The electrician labeled the circuit breakers clearly in the new panelboard.
- He provided documentation on the new wiring for my records.
Rewiring a home is a major undertaking but brings important safety and reliability benefits. With good planning and a competent electrician, the project can be completed with excellent results. The peace of mind from upgraded electrical wiring is well worth the effort and expense.