How to Rewire Your Home Without An Electrician (And Pass Inspection)
Rewiring a home can seem like an intimidating task, but with proper planning and attention to safety, it is possible for a DIYer to successfully rewire their home and pass inspection. As an experienced homeowner who has rewired my entire house over the past few years, I want to share my insights on how to systematically rewire a home to code without hiring an electrician.
Reasons For Rewiring
There are several common reasons you may need or want to rewire your home:
Upgrading to a 200 amp service - Many older homes only have 100 amp electrical service. Upgrading allows you to run more high wattage appliances and avoid tripped breakers.
Aluminum wiring replacement - Aluminum wiring used in homes built between 1965-1973 presents fire and safety issues due to failures at connections. Replacing it with copper wiring eliminates the risk.
Unsafe wiring conditions - Outdated wiring and lack of grounding can make your electrical system unsafe and not up to modern code.
Remodeling needs - Any major renovation usually requires some rewiring to accommodate relocated walls and new configurations.
Safety should always be your top priority when doing electrical work. Here are some key safety tips:
Turn off power at the main breaker panel - Verify power is off using a non-contact voltage tester before working on any circuits.
Work on one circuit at a time - Label each circuit before disconnecting wires to avoid confusion.
Wear personal protective equipment - At minimum, wear safety glasses and electrical gloves when handling wires.
Inspect all existing wiring - Replace any damaged or substandard wiring.
Use caution with aluminum wiring - Use special connection inserts if possible and minimize splicing.
Step-by-Step Rewiring Process
Follow these steps to systematically rewire your home:
1. Create a Wiring Plan
- Map out each circuit and label purposes and connections.
- Design most efficient layout based on your needs.
- Identify any wiring changes needed.
2. Install New Breaker Panel
- Choose a panel with enough slots for all your planned circuits.
- Install the panel as per manufacturer’s instructions.
3. Run New Circuits and Wiring
- Start with the largest gauge wires first (usually for high draw appliances like water heater, range etc).
- Staple cables every 4-5 feet and within 12 inches of boxes.
- Make sure to size wires based on amperage rating and length.
4. Connect Switches, Receptacles and Fixtures
- Use wire nuts or other connectors properly rated for the connection.
- Secure receptacles and switch boxes into the walls.
- Attach cover plates and light fixtures.
5. Connect the Main Service Entry Wires
- Feed wires from the utility drop through the weatherhead into the main breaker.
- Make sure neutral and ground wires are properly separated.
- Use heavy duty conduit for the main service feed.
6. Inspect and Test All Circuits
- Verify grounding and polarity of each receptacle.
- Check for continuity between connected wires.
- Thoroughly inspect for any loose connections or improper splices.
7. Replace Insulation and Patch Drywall
- Use fire-rated insulation like Roxul where wiring is exposed.
- Seal up openings with caulk and plaster patch drywall once all wiring is installed.
To pass electrical inspection:
Have an organized breaker panel - Label all circuits clearly. Breakers should match wire size.
Mount components properly - Boxes and fixtures should be securely fastened and level.
Follow code for connections - Use approved connectors and junction boxes when splicing.
Keep wires tidy - Avoid loose wire loops and maintain proper cable routing.
Check grounding - Ensure all outlets are properly grounded to the panel.
Test GFCIs - Push the self-test buttons to confirm they trip power.
Thoroughly checking your work ahead of time ensures you don't have any failed inspections. Remember, if an inspector sees one sloppy mistake, he will look much more closely at everything - so getting it right from the start avoids problems.
Rewiring a house is very satisfying and can save thousands in electrician fees. To stay safe and organized:
Go room by room - Don't overwhelm yourself by taking on too much.
Label everything - Color coded tape helps identify wire runs and circuits.
Consult local codes - Requirements vary, so check with your jurisdiction.
Hire a pro if needed - Some complex jobs like the main service may require an electrician.
Pass rough-in inspection first - Get approval before closing up walls to avoid having to tear them open later.
With good planning, attention to detail, and focus on safety, you can tackle rewiring your home successfully. The ability to do it yourself provides huge savings and great satisfaction. Just take it one step at a time.