Rewiring a home can seem like a daunting task if you don't have any electrical experience. However, with proper planning, safety precautions, and the right tools, even an amateur can successfully rewire their house. Here's my guide on how I managed to rewire my home without any prior electrical knowledge.
Gather Tools and Materials
Before starting any electrical project, you'll need to stock up on the right supplies. Here's what I gathered before beginning:
- Wire strippers - To strip insulation off wires
- Voltage tester - To safely check if wires are live
- Cable ripper - To remove old cables from the walls
- Fish tapes - To route new wires through walls
- Cable staples - To secure wires to studs and joists
- Wire nuts - To connect wires together
- Electrical tape - To insulate wire connections
- Junction boxes - To house wire connections
- Conduit - To protect wires when run through open spaces
- Breakers - To connect circuits to the main electrical panel
- Outlet and switches - New ones to replace old devices
I also stocked up on different gauges of electrical wire for the various circuits I needed to run. Having the right tools and materials is crucial when DIYing electrical work. Don't take shortcuts here.
Turn Off Power and Inspect Electrical Panel
Before touching any wires, I made sure to turn off the main breaker to cut power to the entire house. I also turned off all individual breakers just to be safe. Verify power is off by testing outlets with a multimeter or voltage tester.
Once the power was off, I removed the cover of the electrical panel and inspected inside. I took notes on which circuit breaker powered each room so I knew what needed rewiring. I also verified that the main service wire gauge could handle the added load of any new circuits I planned to install.
Remove Old Wires
With the electricity safely off, I was ready to start removing the outdated wiring. I used a cable ripper tool to pull the wires out of the walls, starting from the outlets and switches and working my way back to the electrical panel.
Make sure to unscrew any wire connectors joining the wires before yanking them out. I also made note of how the existing wires were run so I could mimic the routing in the new installation.
Run New Wires
Now for the fun part - running the new wires! I started by routing cables down from the attic and through holes I drilled to each outlet and switch box. I made sure to staple the wires every few feet for support.
For existing wall cavities, I used fish tape to thread the new wires through. I also ran conduit lines when I needed to feed wires through unfinished spaces like the basement and garage.
I pulled three wires to each box - a hot, neutral and ground. I also made sure to size the wires appropriately based on the circuit amperage and voltage. #12 AWG for 20 amp, 120V lighting circuits for example.
Connect the Wires
After the wires were run, it was time to make the connections. I wired the outlets and switches by connecting the hot wire to the brass screw, neutral to silver, and ground to green.
All ground wires were connected together in the boxes, as were the neutral wires when possible. The white neutral wire then connected back to the neutral bus bar in the service panel.
I used wire nuts to join the wires, making sure to twist them together securely and tightly. I then wrapped electrical tape around the nuts as an extra safety measure.
Install and Connect Breakers
With all the wiring complete, I installed new circuit breakers in the service panel. I made sure to match the amperage rating of the breaker to the wire gauge.
I connected the hot wires from each circuit to the breaker terminals, labeling each circuit clearly. I also made sure not to overload the main service by tallying up the total amps pulled by all circuits.
Test and Turn Power Back On
The final step was testing my work and restoring power. I turned the main breaker on and then switched on each circuit one at a time. I confirmed outlets were live and switches functioning with my voltage tester.
After methodically verifying each connection, I successfully turned the full power back on! I was thrilled to see all my hard work pay off with a new, safer, and robust electrical system.
While rewiring a house isn't for everyone, it can be done with proper precautions, research, tools, and diligent work. Just make safety your top priority, take it slow, and don't be afraid to hire an electrician if you get overwhelmed. But with the right preparation, you can DIY a house rewire and save thousands!