How to Rewire Your Home WITHOUT an Electrician (Save Thousands!)
Rewiring a home can seem like a daunting task, but with the right preparation and safety precautions, it is possible for a DIYer to rewire their home and save thousands of dollars in electrician fees. In this comprehensive guide, I will walk through all the steps needed to successfully rewire a home without professional help.
Reasons to Rewire
Here are some of the main reasons you may want to rewire your home:
Upgrading to a larger electrical service - If your home's electrical demands have increased, you may need a 200 amp or 400 amp service. Rewiring provides an opportunity to upgrade.
Old and outdated wiring - Knob and tube wiring found in older homes is inefficient and potentially unsafe. Rewiring allows you to update the wiring with modern NM cable.
Improving safety - Upgrading to GFCI outlets and AFCI breakers greatly improves electrical safety. Rewiring makes it simple to add these protective devices.
Remodeling needs - When remodeling a kitchen or bath, rewiring may be necessary to update the electric and meet code.
Dangers and Precautions
Rewiring a home involves working with high voltage electricity. Make safety your top priority. Here are some key precautions to take:
Turn off power at the main breaker - This ensures wires are de-energized while you work.
Test wires with a non-contact voltage tester - Check that power is off before touching any wires.
Wear insulated gloves and long sleeves - Protect yourself from accidental contact with live wires.
Insulate all wire connections - Use wire nuts, crimp connectors, or splicing devices. No exposed copper should be showing.
Have an AFCI/GFCI protected circuit - This will shut off power in the event of a faulty wire connection.
Inspect all work thoroughly before turning power back on - Check connections and make sure wires are secure.
Steps for a Whole Home Rewire
Here is an overview of the end-to-end process for rewiring a home:
1. Create a Wiring Plan
- Decide which circuits you need
- Indicate all outlet, switch and lighting locations
- Note any special wiring needs
2. Obtain Electrical Permits
- Contact your local building department
- Submit your wiring plan for approval
- Hire an inspector or schedule rough-in/final inspections
3. Remove Old Wiring
- With power off, remove devices, outlet covers, and old wiring from walls
4. Install New Wiring and Boxes
- Run NM cables between new outlet and switch boxes
- Staple cables every 4.5 ft as required by code
- Ensure proper cable sheathing extends inside boxes
5. Connect Switches, Outlets, and Lights
- Use correct cable clamps on knockouts
- Secure cables to boxes with cable clamps
- Make hot and neutral connections
6. Update the Electrical Panel
- Install new breakers for added circuits
- Ensure amperage matches wire size
- Connect grounds and neutrals correctly
7. Add Finishing Touches
- Install cover plates, outlets, and switches
- Connect fixtures and devices
- Label all circuits clearly
8. Inspection and Power Up
- Have an inspector verify compliance with codes
- Correct any issues before turning power back on
- Turn main breaker on and test all outlets
Tips for a Successful Rewire
Follow these tips to make your rewiring project go smoothly:
Label all wires and boxes - This avoids confusion and mistakes when reconnecting circuits.
Take photos before removing old wiring - You can refer back to see how things were originally connected.
Plan around obstacles - Look for ways to snake cables through finished walls and avoid excessive demolishing.
Buy extra supplies - Have extra NM cable, boxes, clamps, and wire nuts on hand. Running out can delay projects.
Check your work - Don't rush the testing process before turning power back on. Verify grounding and connectivity.
Hire an inspector - Even if permits aren't legally required, having an inspection provides peace of mind.
Common Rewiring Scenarios
Here are some typical rewiring projects DIYers can take on:
Rewiring a Kitchen
When remodeling a kitchen, wiring upgrades are often needed. Key steps include:
- Run new NM cables from the panel to the kitchen outlets
- Add dedicated 20 amp circuits for all countertop outlets
- Install GFCI protected outlets near the sink and exterior
- Update lighting wiring with NM cable and add can lights
Bathrooms also usually require electrical upgrades when being remodeled:
- Install 20 amp GFCI protected circuits for all outlets
- Include AFCI protection on bathroom circuits
- Update light and fan wiring with NM cable
- Ensure adequate ventilation to remove moisture
Rewiring a Garage or Shed
Outbuildings often need new wiring for safety and increased electrical capacity:
- Run UF cable from main panel and install new grounding rod
- Add heavier gauge wiring if large loads like power tools will be used
- Include GFCI and AFCI protection on all circuits
- Use dust-proof boxes and covers for protection
While rewiring a home is hard work, the electrical savings and safety benefits make it a very rewarding DIY project. With proper planning and precautions, you can successfully rewire your home without hiring an electrician. Just take it slow, follow code requirements, and don't be afraid to ask for help from experienced friends or inspectors. Thoroughly testing your work is crucial before turning the power back on. With patience and attention to detail, you can gain updated electrical wiring that enhances your home's value and safety.