Rewiring a home can seem like a daunting task, but with proper planning and safety precautions, it can be done safely without electrocuting yourself. As someone who wants to update the wiring in my house, I did extensive research into rewiring best practices. In this article, I will share lesser known tips that old timers used for safe rewiring that younger generations may not be aware of.

Safety First - Turn Off Power and Use Precautions

Before touching any wires, the number one rule is to turn off power at the main circuit breaker. Test wires with a voltage tester to be doubly sure they are dead. Wear rubber-soled shoes and insulated gloves when handling wires. Also lay down a rubber mat to stand on while working. Make sure to discharge any residual power by touching wires together before grabbing them. Always replace circuits one at a time to avoid confusion.

"My grandfather taught me to always treat wires as live until proven dead. His paranoid safety habits saved me a few close calls over the years."

Update the Electrical Panel Before Rewiring

Before pulling any new wires, upgrade the main electrical panel if needed. Check the amperage rating to ensure it can handle all your home's electrical needs. Install circuit breakers to replace outdated fuses. Use a whole-house surge protector and arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) for added safety. A new panel with plenty of extra breaker spaces makes rewiring circuits simpler.

"Upgrading my 100 amp panel to 200 amps was the smartest first step. The new breakers gave me peace of mind and flexibility for running new wiring."

Map Out Your Electrical Plan Room by Room

Grab a notebook and sketch out each room's existing wiring. Note which circuits power which outlets and fixtures. Plan where you want new wiring runs and outlets placed. Calculate total amps needed for each room based on lighting, receptacles, and large appliances. Know amperage needs before pulling wires to avoid undersizing. Run independent 20 amp circuits for high draw areas like kitchens.

"Mapping my wiring plan eliminated a ton of headaches. I knew exactly how much wire I needed and where it all had to connect."

Use Proper Gauge Wire for Amps Required

Use 12 gauge wire for 20 amp circuits, 14 gauge for 15 amp circuits, and 10 gauge for 30 amp circuits. Wire too small can overheat, melt, and cause fires. For high current appliances like stoves or HVAC units, 8 gauge or even 6 gauge may be required. Consult National Electrical Code guidelines for your area. Label all wires with their circuit and gauge for easy reference.

"One wire gauge chart on my wall avoided any wiring mistakes. It saved me from incorrectly using 14 gauge where I needed 12 gauge instead."

Run Wires Through Walls Before Installing Drywall

Now comes the fun part - pulling new wires! Run all home runs between rooms before drywall goes up. Use protective metal conduit to guard wires that might get damaged. Employ fish tape to route wires through walls and drill small holes to feed wire between wooden studs. Always staple wiring neatly and leave plenty of extra length at ends.

"Getting all my wires in place before drywall made the finishing work so much simpler. I didn't have to cut open new holes or run exposed conduit."

Connect Switches and Outlets Properly

When installing switches and outlets, connect the hot wire to the brass screw, the neutral to silver, and the ground to green. Ensure outlet boxes are grounded via pigtails back to the panel. Use wire nuts for splicing and electrical tape for insulation. Insert wires clockwise into outlets to avoid loosening. Finally, firmly secure all connections and tuck wires neatly into boxes.

"I kept a wire nut and tape handy at all times. They made connecting wires quick with solid, insulated connections."

Use GFCIs and AFCIs to Prevent Shock and Electrical Fire

Two essential safety devices are GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and AFCIs (arc-fault circuit interrupters). Install GFCIs anywhere near water like kitchens and bathrooms to prevent shocks. Use AFCIs on bedroom circuits to stop electrical fires from faulty wiring. Regularly test GFCIs and AFCIs with their builtin buttons to ensure proper functioning.

"Once I started using GFCIs and AFCIs everywhere, I finally stopped worrying about faulty wiring burning down my house."

Inspect Work and Test All Circuits Thoroughly

Before turning power back on, inspect every wire connection and outlet. Verify proper grounding and that hot and neutral wires are not reversed. Test all outlets with a receptacle tester to catch any wiring mistakes. Check breakers to ensure every circuit is working correctly. If anything seems off, troubleshoot problems before energizing wires.

"I tested every single outlet which caught two simple hot-neutral reverse connections I later fixed. Don't skip this crucial safety step!"


Rewiring your home is very rewarding when done safely. Follow proper precautions, make an electrical plan, use adequate wire gauges, and install modern safety devices. Thoroughly inspect all work before flipping the main breaker back on. While rewiring takes time and diligence, the end result is a safer, more efficient electrical system that will benefit your home for decades to come. Just take it slow and steady to avoid any missteps or shocks!