Five Tips for Rewiring an Old House

If you enjoy living in an old house and using 21st Century technology, you’ve got to make sure that old house wiring can handle the load.

Rewiring a house can have many benefits.

  • It enables your home electrical system to handle heating and cooling, doing the laundry, cooking on the stove and staying connected on all those high tech gadgets.
  • It boosts the energy efficiency of your system — which is great for your budget and the environment.
  • It makes your home safer by reducing the risk of electric shock and fire.

Keep reading for five tips on successfully rewiring your house.

#1: Get Proper Permitting for House Wiring Project

Many home improvement projects — including home electrical wiring — require a permit to ensure the work is done correctly and safely.

Hire an electrician with the proper certifications and who knows the codes governing this type of work. Many jurisdictions have rules pertaining to the number of outlets in a room, the types of wire to use and other matters.

Work done without a permit may have to be pulled out and could be subject to legal penalties.

#2: Have a Plan

Talk to your electrician before the work begins. Have him or her explain to you exactly what needs to be done and what is included in the cost.

  • Electrical inventory. Consider all of the electrical devices you use, and then make sure you install the wiring needed to match your anticipated usage.
  • Make a checklist. Have your electrician provide a checklist of all tasks that will be completed along with a timeline, so you’ll know what to expect and when.
  • Watch your infrastructure. Planning ahead can help you avoid unnecessary damage to walls and other infrastructure in your home.
  • Be flexible. Even when you do plan ahead, sometimes unexpected problems crop up once the project begins. It may be necessary for your electrician to dig into walls in order to complete the job properly.
  • Plan for cleanup. If demolition and reconstruction of walls becomes necessary ask your electrician for details on the cleanup process. Is it included in the initial estimate or will you have to pay extra? Will your electrician handle the work or will an outside supplier be hired?

#3: Upgrade Electrical Panel & Circuits

If you’re adding new wire, make sure your electrical service panel is able to handle the load.

  • Have your electrician upgrade your main service panel to at least 100 amps.
  • Install dedicated circuits for each of your home’s major appliances — such as your HVAC system and washer and dryer.

By upgrading your electrical system and adding new circuits, you’ll have enough capacity for your most power-hungry appliances without overloading the new wires you’re installing.

#4: Upgrade Electrical Wiring

There are three important considerations to keep in mind when installing new residential wiring in an older home.

  • Do you have knob-and-tube wiring? If your home was built before the 1950s, you most likely have this type of wiring in which two parallel wires — one hot and one neutral — run side by side. The wires are protected by porcelain knobs and ceramic tubes to keep them from touching wooden joists and beams. Knob-and-tube wiring does not include a ground wire, which makes it a potential fire hazard.
  • Have your electrician inspect existing wires. Are they installed correctly? If both old and new wires are present, are they connected properly? Look for wires illegally hanging loosely or stapled to joists.
  • What types of wiring do you need? In addition to standard household wiring for most appliances, you may have other applications that require different types of wire. For example, data transfer, fire alarms, and security systems often require their own wiring installations.

#5: Upgrade Outlets and Fixtures

When you update your wires, you often need to update your outlets and fixtures as well.

  • Electrical outlets should be spaced 6 to 8 feet apart. This reduces your need for extension cords.
  • Replace outdated ungrounded outlets with three-prong grounded ones to reduce the risk of shock and fire.
  • Outlets near water sources should be protected with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). This includes outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and outdoor areas.
  • Inspect light fixtures to ensure that they are properly wired and grounded.

Rewiring a house is not a DIY project. It’s important that you hire a certified electrician with experience working on older buildings — which can actually be more demanding than newer structures.

Contact us at Complete Electrical Solutions if you need to rewire your old house. We’ll help you get the job done right.