How to Rewire Your Home Without Hiring an Electrician
As a homeowner, you may find yourself wanting to rewire parts of your house to upgrade the electrical system, add new circuits, or fix faulty wiring. Hiring an electrician can be expensive, with labor costs often reaching $50-100 per hour. With some preparation and care, rewiring a room or section of your home is totally doable as a DIY project. I successfully rewired my kitchen on my own, saving over $1000 in electrician fees. Here is my guide on how to safely rewire your home without hiring a professional.
Gather Tools and Materials
Before getting started, you'll need to acquire some basic tools and materials:
- Wire strippers - To strip insulation off wires
- Voltage tester - To make sure power is off before working
- Fish tape - To run wires through walls
- Electrical tape - To insulate wires and connections
- Wire nuts - To join wires together
- ** junction boxes** - To house wire connections
- Cable staples - To attach wires to studs
- NM (Romex) cable - The wiring to run through your home
- Wire cutters - To cut and trim wires to length
Make sure you get the correct wire gauge for your home's electrical system. Most homes use 12 or 14 gauge NM cable. Buy extra than you think you'll need to avoid running short mid-project.
Turn Off Power and Remove Old Wiring
Before touching any wiring, you'll want to turn off the power at your home's main circuit breaker. Test that the power is off by plugging in a light or voltmeter at the outlets you'll be working on.
Next, you can start removing any old wiring in the walls. Carefully pull wires out of boxes and cut them back to where they enter/exit the stud bay. Be sure to photograph and label the wires as you remove them so you can replicate the connections later.
Wear safety glasses and work carefully, as old wiring can be brittle and prone to breaking.
Plan Your New Wiring Layout
Now comes the fun part - planning out your new wiring layout. Here are some tips:
- Draw a rough diagram of where you want switches, lights, and receptacles placed
- Plan circuits carefully - don't overload any single circuit
- Use junction boxes to split circuits as needed
- Think about lighting needs - add extra switches and dimmers as desired
Runs requiring heavy loads (large appliances, AC units) may need thicker 10 gauge wire. Plan accordingly so you don't have to reroute wires later.
Leave extra wire at ends for mistakes and changes down the road. It's much easier to trim excess than run short!
Fish and Install New Wiring
With your game plan ready, it's time to install the new wiring. Here's the process:
- Run cables from room to room and up stud bays as needed
- Use cable staples to securely attach to studs every 4-6 feet
- Strip ends and connect wires using wire nuts at boxes
- Attach cables to switches, lights, receptacles, etc.
- Use junction boxes to split wires as planned
- Carefully label each wire run at the boxes so you know what's what
Take it slow and be methodical - it's easy to make mistakes crossing wires. Double check connections before moving to the next run.
Helpful Fish Tape Tips
Use the following tips when running new cables:
- Spray wire lube on fish tape to reduce friction
- Have a helper feed the fish tape if running long spans
- Ensure all staples are sunk into studs to avoid snagging
- Try to run all wires for a circuit in the same bay for neatness
Connect the Wiring at the Panel
Once all the wiring is tightly secured and properly terminated, you can connect it back at the main panel.
- Shut off the main before working inside the panel
- Match wire size and color codes to existing circuits
- Connect grounds first, then neutral, then hot wires
- Double check connections are tight and secure
- Carefully mark new breakers and document changes
Take your time here and work cautiously. A mistake in the main panel can be dangerous and lead to electrical fire.
Restore Power and Test
You're almost ready to restore power and test your work:
- Do one final check of all connections and terminations
- Replace all covers on boxes and devices
- Turn power back on at the main breaker
- Walk through and methodically test every light, switch, and receptacle
- Check for hot spots at boxes indicating loose wires
If everything checks out - congratulations! Enjoy your rewired spaces. You just saved yourself a ton of money.
When to Call an Electrician
While many home rewiring projects can be DIY'ed, there are times you may want to call in a professional electrician:
- Running wiring to a hot tub, HVAC units, or other large appliances
- Upgrading service entrance wires and main panel
- Adding new circuits requiring new breaker positions
- Rewiring older homes with outdated electrical systems
Pro electricians have years of experience, can work faster, and can handle tricky situations beyond a homeowner's skill level. They also ensure work is up to local code.
So while common rewiring projects are certainly DIY-friendly, don't be afraid to call an electrician when you're in doubt or over your head! Safety first.
Rewiring all or part of your home is very rewarding if you take the proper safety precautions. Follow the steps outlined here - gather tools, turn off power, remove old wiring, plan new runs, fish cables, connect everything carefully, and thoroughly test. You can save yourself thousands in labor costs.
Just be sure to know your limits, especially when working in the main panel. Don't jeopardize safety to avoid hiring a pro. But for many projects, with patience and care, you can definitely DIY your home's electrical work!