How to Rewire Your Home Without an Electrician and Not Burn It Down

I understand the desire to save money by doing home electrical work yourself. However, rewiring a home is extremely dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. There are important safety steps and electrical codes that must be followed to avoid fires, electrocution, and other hazards. While I don't recommend rewiring your home without a licensed electrician, I've put together some tips below for those determined to take on this risky DIY project. However, please proceed with extreme caution.

Assess if You Need Complete Rewiring or Just Minor Upgrades

Before deciding on a full rewire, carefully evaluate if your home's electrical system truly needs it. A licensed electrician can inspect your wiring and provide an honest assessment. Minor upgrades like replacing a fuse box with a circuit breaker panel or adding new circuits may be within a DIYer's skills. But a full rewiring is complicated and perilous without training and experience. If your home is very old and still has knob and tube wiring, a professional rewire is strongly advised.

Learn Electrical Codes, Safety Standards, and Best Practices

Electrical work is governed by local, state, and national safety codes and standards. Before touching a wire, study up on things like the National Electrical Code, required amperages for different electrical loads, and voltage drop over long wire runs. Understand wire gauges, circuit overcurrent protection, and grounding and bonding. Master best practices for cable splicing, junction boxes, outlet and switch installation, and more. The risks are extreme if you wire something incorrectly.

Use Extreme Caution When Working with Live Wires

De-energize circuits at the main breaker panel before working on them. Test wires with a non-contact voltage tester before touching. Turn the main breaker back on only when all wiring is complete. Be prepared for the risks of live wires you didn't know were present. Wear insulated gloves, long sleeves, enclosed shoes, safety goggles, and avoid damp conditions. Use insulated tools and testing equipment. Don't work alone so someone can call 911 if you suffer a shock.

Handle Aluminum Wiring with Great Care

If your older home has aluminum wiring, extra precautions are needed. Connections with this wiring are prone to heat buildup and arcing if not properly installed. Use special connectors and preparation tools rated for aluminum and follow installation instructions closely. Consider hiring an electrician just for this highly hazardous wiring.

Install New Breaker Panel and Rewire Room by Room

Plan the project order in advance. Install a new main circuit breaker panel first so you can de-energize circuits as needed. Rewire one room at a time to avoid confusion. Remove old wires only after new ones are installed and tested. Mark all wires clearly and create an accurate wiring diagram of all connections. Take photos before altering anything. Keep wires properly separated.

Inspect Your Work and Test Thoroughly Before Turning Power Back On

Double check that all bare wire connections are adequately insulated. Watch for loose wire nuts, exposed wire, loose knockouts, overflowing junction boxes, etc. Verify grounding and bonding paths are intact. Once everything looks good, restore power a circuit at a time and test with care. Plug in and turn on lights, appliances, and equipment to confirm proper function.

I sincerely hope these tips help prevent catastrophic mishaps. But please remember that home electrical work should only be done by qualified electricians. If someone gets hurt or your house burns down from a wiring mistake, you'll surely regret not hiring a pro. Be smart, be safe.