Rewiring a home can seem like a daunting task, but with proper planning and precautions, it is possible for a homeowner to rewire their house safely without hiring an electrician. As someone who has rewired my entire home myself, I can provide firsthand advice on how to approach this project.

In this comprehensive guide, I will cover:

With my guidance, you can upgrade the wiring in your home and save thousands of dollars in electrician fees. Just be sure to exercise extreme caution and turn off the power when working on any electrical project.

How Electrical Systems Work in a Home

To rewire your home, you first need to understand the basics of how home electrical systems work.

The Main Electrical Service Panel

The electrical system starts with the main service panel, usually located outside or in the basement/garage. This panel has a large double-pole circuit breaker that controls power from the street into your home's circuits.

Breaker Box

Inside the home is the breaker box (or fuse box in older homes) containing many smaller circuit breakers controlling individual circuits. Each 120-volt household circuit has a black "hot" wire, a white "neutral" wire, and bare copper or green "ground" wire.

Wiring and Circuits

Electrical current flows from the hot wire through devices and light fixtures and returns through the neutral wire. The ground wire protects from shocks and shorts. Home electrical systems have 120-volt and 240-volt circuits. 120V circuits power most lighting, outlets, and small appliances. 240V circuits supply large appliances like air conditioners, water heaters, dryers etc.

Conduit and Cables

Wires are run through conduits encased in walls, ceilings and floors. Or electrical cables can be run through cavities between studs. Old wiring may have knob-and-tube wiring without modern protective conduits.

Safety Tips When Rewiring a Home

Working with electrical wiring is extremely dangerous if safety precautions are not taken. Here are some key tips for staying safe during a home rewiring project:

Always exercise extreme caution when handling electrical wiring and components. It's also a good idea to take safety courses and training before attempting any major electrical work. Have emergency numbers handy in case of any accidents.

Step-by-Step Guide to Rewiring a Home

Once you understand basic electrical systems and have safety gear in place, you can move on to the rewiring process itself. Here is an overview of the step-by-step procedure:

1. Turn Off Power and Remove Old Wiring

Turn off power at the main breaker panel. Then, go to the interior breaker box and switch off all circuits and remove fuses. Test wires with a voltage tester before touching.

Start removing old wires from outlets, switches and appliances - being extremely careful not to contact any live wires. Also remove any old conduits, unsafely exposed wires, and worn-out circuit breakers.

2. Plan New Circuits and Install New Breaker Panel

Decide where you want new outlets, switches and circuits placed throughout the home. A good guideline is to have a 20-amp circuit for each 600 square feet of living space with no more than 8 outlets per circuit. Create circuit maps to plan which outlets, lights, and appliances will be on each new circuit.

If needed, install a new, larger breaker panel and run new wires from the main service panel to the interior breaker box.

3. Run New Wires through Walls and Ceilings

Drill small holes through walls, floors, and ceilings to route new wiring between outlets and light fixtures. Use metal/PVC conduits to protect wire runs for safety. Pull different colored wires (black, white, green) for the hot, neutral and ground. Run wire between the breaker panel and outlets/switches for each new circuit.

4. Install Outlets, Switches and Fixtures

With the wires for each new circuit run, you can start installing updated outlets, light switches, and light fixtures throughout the home. Follow diagrams carefully and connect hot, neutral and ground wires properly using wire nuts.

5. Connect Large Appliances

For 240V appliances like HVAC units and dryers, run 10/2 gauged wires from the breaker panel and outlets. Follow instructions to properly connect these high-power appliances.

6. Label New Circuits

Clearly label each new circuit at outlets and in the breaker panel. This allows easy identification later for maintenance and additions.

7. Inspect and Test New Wiring

Thoroughly inspect all work and use a voltage tester to confirm outlets and fixtures work properly. Check for loose connections and faulty wiring that could lead to a fire hazard. It may be wise to hire an electrician just for the final inspection, troubleshooting, and connecting power.

Tips for Installing New Outlets and Fixtures

Some key tips to follow when installing updated electrical outlets and fixtures during your rewiring project:

Work slowly and double check your wiring connections. Do not rush when handling electrical components.

Testing Your Work and Troubleshooting Problems

Once the rewiring is complete, testing your work thoroughly and correcting any issues is critical before re-energizing the full system:

Having a basic understanding of home electrical systems allows you to methodically test each part of the circuit to identify and correct any wiring errors. Pay an electrician if you have any uncertainties about wiring issues. Safety should be the top priority when rewiring a home.


While rewiring a home is a large project, it can save you significant money compared to hiring an electrician. By using proper precautions, following national electrical codes, and methodically planning the updating of wiring and circuits, you can achieve a safe, modern and reliable electrical system. Pay attention to details, work carefully, and don't rush the process. With some diligence and care, you can gain tremendous DIY skills and update your home's wiring without costing a fortune. Just be sure to get experienced help if you have any doubts about tackling such a complex project on your own. Stay safe!