Rewiring your home can seem like a daunting task, but with the right preparation and safety precautions, it is possible for a dedicated DIYer to take on. Rewiring a home involves replacing old, damaged, or insufficient electrical wiring with new wires and components that meet modern electrical codes and standards. The main motivations for rewiring are to increase safety, gain more power and circuits, or update aesthetics. With proper planning and caution, you can successfully rewire all or part of your home without having to hire an electrician.
Reasons for Rewiring Your Home
Here are some of the top reasons you may need to rewire your house:
Outdated wiring - Homes older than 40 years likely contain outdated, insufficient, or damaged wiring that poses safety risks like fires and electrocution. Upgrading to modern wiring prevents hazards.
Faulty circuits and fuses - Frequent blown fuses, flickering lights, or odd electrical behavior likely indicate faulty, failing wiring that needs to be replaced.
Exposed wires - Exposed or fraying wiring poses shock and fire risks. Rewiring allows you to bring all wires up to code and enclose them properly.
Overloaded circuits - If your circuits constantly trip or you don't have enough outlets in each room for modern devices, your wiring may be overloaded and in need of upgrading.
Need for more circuits - Rewiring allows you to add more individual circuits, distributing the electrical load more efficiently.
Higher wattage - Modern appliances require more wattage than old homes provide. Rewiring allows increasing the electrical service to your panel.
Hide wires in walls - Rewiring allows you to route wires through walls and ceilings for a cleaner, streamlined look.
Add outlets - Additional outlets can be added in convenient, visually pleasing locations during rewiring.
Lighting controls - Smart switches, dimmers, and lighting control systems often require wiring upgrades.
Rewiring a home comes with risks of electrocution, fire, and shock. Take these essential precautions:
Turn Off Power
Shut off all power at the main circuit breaker panel before starting any work.
Test wires with a voltmeter to be sure they are de-energized.
Leave power off until all work is complete.
Use Extreme Caution
Wear rubber-soled shoes and insulated gloves when handling wires.
Work on only one circuit at a time.
Keep flammable materials away from work area.
Hire an Electrician if Unsure
If you lack confidence in your skills, hire a pro to avoid safety mishaps.
Have an electrician double check your work when complete.
Planning Your Rewiring Project
Careful planning is crucial to successfully rewiring your home DIY-style. Here are key steps:
Research Local Codes
- Electrical codes can vary regionally. Research your local codes to ensure compliance.
Consider Whole House or Partial Rewiring
- A full rewire is best for old homes but partial may suffice in newer ones.
Develop a Wiring Diagram
- Map out a wiring diagram detailing all circuits, wire sizing, outlets, switches etc.
Calculate Electrical Load Needs
- Estimate your home's electrical needs for lighting, appliances, HVAC, etc. to sizewiring appropriately.
Select Appropriate Wiring
- Choose wire gauge and type (copper, aluminum) based on electrical load.
Purchase All Necessary Materials and Tools
- Buy all wiring, outlets, boxes, conduit, etc. called for in your plan.
Establish a Logical Work Sequence
- Plan the order in which you'll rewire rooms to maximize efficiency.
Rewiring Your Home Room by Room
Here is a step-by-step guide to rewiring a room:
Turn Off Power
- Shut off power at the breaker and verify it's off with a voltmeter.
Remove Old Wiring
- Take out outdated wiring. This may require cutting into walls.
Run New Wiring
- Route new wiring through walls, ceilings, and conduits as mapped in your plan. Leave extra length.
Install Electrical Boxes
- Mount new electrical boxes where outlets, switches, and fixtures will go.
- Join the new wires to fixtures, devices, and other wiring using proper methods.
- Attach outlets, switches, and other electrical devices.
Close Up Walls and Ceilings
- Patch drywall or plaster around boxes and conduits.
- Label each circuit clearly in the breaker panel and with outlet stickers.
Test and Restore Power
- Verify safety with an electrician, then restore power.
Once all rooms are successfully rewired, there are a few final steps:
- Have an electrician inspect your work for safety and code compliance.
- Update your home insurance company on the rewiring.
- Reset any wall-mounted electronics that were removed temporarily.
- Dispose of all old wiring safely.
- Make a record of your new wiring plan for future residents.
While rewiring a home is a major undertaking, it is possible for some homeowners to tackle it themselves and save on electrician costs. With proper planning for safety and legal compliance, adequate skills, and extreme care when handling wiring, you can successfully rewire your outdated home. Just be sure to enlist help from experts when needed. Your improved electrical safety and functionality will make the effort worthwhile.