Electrical issues are the third most common cause of house fires in the United States. Updating the wiring in a house is not an inexpensive undertaking, but keeping old wiring could have disastrous consequences.
Modern technology demands are also reasons for rewiring a house. Powering multiple electronic devices, having adequate interior and exterior lighting, and heating and cooling a home to today’s standards are more difficult if a home’s electrical system is not up to the task.
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What Is Rewiring Your Home?
Rewiring a home involves removing the outdated wiring inside a home’s walls and installing new, modern wiring that can safely meet today’s electrical needs. Rewiring is typically done by a licensed electrician who strips out the old wiring and runs new wiring throughout the entire house, installs a new circuit breaker panel to handle the load of the new wiring system, and ensures building codes governing electric wiring are met.
In the past, families may have needed only one or two outlets per room because there were fewer electric items used. Now, homeowners use outlets for phone chargers, routers, computers, TVs, video game consoles, and speaker systems—and that doesn’t even cover kitchen gadgets that have come into common use over the years. All of these modern electronics can overload older electrical wiring that wasn’t designed for our increasing technology needs.
When Do You Need to Rewire Your Home?
Common circumstances that indicate a home might need to be rewired are flickering lights, outlets making a popping sound, or tripped breakers. When buying an older home, a home inspection during the buying process typically reveals if rewiring is recommended or necessary.
Building inspectors examine both the inside and outside of a house to try to determine if the home’s wiring is up to date or will need to be replaced. Even before a home inspection, prospective home buyers may be able to get a good idea of how the home is wired by peeking into the attic, basement, or crawl space.
One type of wiring to look for that will almost certainly indicate old wiring is knob and tube wiring, which was common through the mid 1900s. With this type of wiring, electrical connections aren’t made in plastic or metal junction boxes. Instead, it uses ceramic tubes to protect the wire going through studs or joists and ceramic knobs as supports along the wire.
Another way to check for outdated wiring is to find the electrical panel and see if it has modern breaker switches or round fuses. The round fuses indicate the system is outdated, and rewiring a house might be recommended.
It can be helpful to ask the seller, too, since a lot of older homes may still have non-working remnants of these older systems, even after being retrofitted with something modern. Seller disclosure laws vary from state to state, so it’s not recommended to depend on the good faith of the seller, but for the home buyer to do their own examination of a home’s working systems.
If you’re currently living in a home with older wiring and notice that your circuit breakers trip often, lights flicker frequently, the light switches fees warm to the touch, or there is a burning or otherwise odd smell coming from an outlet, scheduling an appointment with an electrician to have the electrical system inspected is a good idea.
How Much Does It Cost To Rewire a 1600 to 2000 Sq Ft House?
Many variables contribute to the cost of rewiring a house such as square footage and how easy or difficult it is to access the space, but on average it will cost between $6 and $10 a square foot to rewire a house.
The costs for rewiring generally include labor and materials, but not new fixtures the homeowner might want to have installed by the electrician. A 1600-square-foot house typically ranges from $9,600 to $16,000 to rewire. A 2,000-square-foot house typically ranges from $12,000 to $20,000 to rewire.
Rewiring an older home can cost upwards of $30,000 because the wiring might be more difficult to access, the panel and other components may need to be upgraded, and the job just might be more involved overall.
Can You Rewire a House Without Removing Drywall?
If you have access to a basement, attic, or crawl space, a house may be able to be rewired without removing much, if any, drywall. Having access to the blueprint of the house will help, since the circuitry plan is typically included on a blueprint. Being able to access a crawlspace, basement, or attic space can also make rewiring a house simpler.
To rewire without removing drywall, the usual process is to cut openings at the tops or bottoms of the walls for the wiring to be pulled through. Another way is to cut a section of drywall around the perimeter of the room to make it easier to access studs.
Is It Worth It to Rewire a House?
Although the cost to rewire a house might seem cost-prohibitive when buying a home, owners of older homes with outdated wiring systems may find that the average cost to rewire a house can be money well spent.
If your electrical system is out of date, it’s likely worth it to rewire the house. Replacing outdated wiring can help prevent a house fire and potentially add value to the property. While not generally included in the average cost to rewire a house, updated, energy-efficient fixtures are sometimes included in a remodeling job of this scope and can potentially lower the homeowner’s utility costs.
How Long Does It Take to Rewire a House?
The amount of time it takes to rewire a house can vary based on the electrician’s existing work schedule, as well as the size of the house and any problems encountered through the process, but on average it takes around a week for an electrician crew to rewire a 2,000-square-foot home. You may consider staying with family or a friend as rewiring a home likely will disrupt your living space for that duration of time.
Planning for Rewiring Construction
Some people choose to move out of their home during the rewiring process so that electricians can quickly access old wiring and avoid the construction mess. This means planning for a week of hotel living and restaurant dining while the work is completed.
Additionally, because the electricians will be cutting into your walls (and potentially ceilings and floors, too), you may need to budget additional funds for patches, paint, and other repair work.
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Having an electrician rewire your house is a major expense of homeownership and some short-term inconvenience. But you will make up for it by knowing that your home has been updated with updated wiring that is safe for you and your family and will keep up with modern electrical demands.
Wondering how you’re going to pay for it all? An unsecured personal loan is one way to pay for the average cost to rewire a house. Home Improvement Loans from SoFi have competitive interest rates with fixed payments and no fees. No collateral is needed, so there’s no need to have a certain amount of home equity to be considered when applying.
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