Homeownership can be a roller coaster: One day you’re patting yourself on the back for finally choosing the perfect white paint for your walls, and the next you find out that you need to rewire your house.
Rewiring your house may not be the most glamorous part of homeownership, but it is important. How else are you going to stream movies, play games online, and do pretty much everything else if your power’s not dialed in?
And while all that’s nice, there’s also the little matter of faulty wiring being a major cause of home fires. In fact, electrical issues are the fourth most common cause of house fires in the United States. The cost to rewire a house might send shivers down your spine, but keeping old wiring could have disastrous consequences.
What Is Rewiring Your Home?
Most of us give very little thought to what is really happening behind the scenes when we flick on a light switch or tell our smart speaker to turn on the TV. But behind those instantaneous results is your home’s electrical system.
While it might just look like a bunch of multicolored wires inside your walls, your home’s wiring is actually a complex system designed to ensure that your coffee pot actually turns on when you plug it in and that your house doesn’t catch fire in the process.
Of course, just like the rest of technology, home wiring technology has improved and changed over the years. Have you ever noticed that you can never find an outlet when you need one in an old house? Well, that’s because technology usage has increased throughout our homes.
Fifty years ago, families may have only needed one or two outlets per room. Now, we need outlets for our phone chargers, routers, computers, TVs, video game consoles, and essential oil diffusers, and that doesn’t even cover kitchen gadgets. All of these modern electronics can overload older electrical wiring that wasn’t designed for our increasing technology needs.
Rewiring your home involves trading out all the old, outdated types of wiring inside your walls and connecting new, modern wiring that can safely meet your electrical needs.
It’s typically done by a licensed electrician who strips out the old wiring and restrings new wiring throughout your entire house, including updating the load your wiring system can handle and ensuring that your home is up to date with building codes governing electric wiring.
When Do You Need to Rewire Your Home?
Two common circumstances indicate that you may need to rewire your home: first, if you’re purchasing an older home, or second, if you start to notice some tell-tale signs of electrical problems in your current home, such as flickering lights, popping outlets, or tripped breakers. If you’re buying an older home, a home inspection during the buying process could tell you if the building needs to be rewired.
Building inspectors examine both the inside and outside of a house to determine if the home’s wiring is up to date or will need to be replaced. Although the cost to rewire a house might seem cost-prohibitive when buying a home, it might be a good idea to start the rewiring process prior to moving in so it doesn’t disrupt your life even more.
If you are looking for a new home and aren’t quite to the point where you’ve hired an inspector, you could do a little research on your own while you’re hitting those open houses.
One type of wiring to look for that will almost certainly indicate old wiring is called knob and tube wiring. This kind of wiring can date all the way back to the 1940s. The connections for these kinds of wires aren’t even made in junction boxes (the metal boxes you’d see in a modern electrical system).
An easy way to check out whether an older house has them might be to take a look at an attic or a crawl space. If you see a lot of single wires running into things that look like old marshmallows, well you’ve probably got some knob and tube wiring.
It can be helpful to ask too, since a lot of older homes may still have non-working remnants of these older systems, even after being retrofitted with something modern.
The other scenario can be more complicated. If you’re living in a home with older wiring, you might notice that your circuit breakers trip every time you turn on the blender or your dining room lights blink out when you start vacuuming.
If that’s the case, you might want to schedule an appointment with an electrician. Likewise, if you notice fraying wire, scorch marks on your outlets, or smoke, it may be time to overhaul your home wiring.
Estimated Costs to Rewire a Home
The cost to rewire a house varies depending on where you live, the size of the house, the extent of any damage to the home from previous faulty wiring, and the amount of construction that electricians will need to do in order to reach your old wiring in the walls.
Of course, shopping around for an electrician may help cut down on costs, but much of that initial cost to rewire your house goes to pay for the new, safer wires and other materials that will be used to update your electrical system.
Your costs may also go up if you choose to add additional electrical sockets or other upgrades that require additional parts and labor.
Both sites come with reviews, and you may even find some people who’ve used an electrician for a similar service. Of course, a referral from a friend can also be a great way to do research.
If all else fails, you could always reach out to your neighborhood and area groups on social media. Chances are that someone else in the neighborhood has probably already removed what you’re removing and might be able to recommend someone to handle the job.
Planning for Rewiring Construction
One of the biggest things to plan for when it comes to rewiring your home is the cost. The average cost to rewire a house varies greatly depending on a variety of factors, but it can sometimes cost more than $10,000 .
That is a big number for something that will be hidden behind the drywall, but making your home safe might be worth the expense.
In addition to the added peace of mind with safety concerns, you’ll also know that future-proofing your home for all the gadgets you need to run might even lend some value to the house.
Have some heavy streamers or gamers in the house? While the electric is being done, you may want to have the house wired with ethernet cable, too, for higher speeds and rock solid connections.
Homeowners insurance won’t necessarily cover run-of-the-mill rewiring, so you might be stuck paying the costs out of pocket. In addition to the cost of hiring an electrician, don’t forget to account for any other incidental expenses.
Some people choose to move out of their home during the rewiring process so that electricians can quickly access old wiring and you avoid breathing in drywall dust when they cut into your walls. This means that you may need to budget 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, you may need to budget additional money for patches, paint, and other repair work.
How Will You Pay for Rewiring Your House?
It can be a lot to take in, the idea of an electrician digging into the bowels of your house and ripping stuff out. It’s not cheap and it may mean moving out of the house for a little while.
But, for what it costs in cold hard cash, you might make up for by knowing that your home is humming along with modern wiring and that plugging in a new device should no longer mean a trip outside or down to the basement to flip a breaker.
Wondering how you’re going to pay for it all? You could consider taking out a personal loan to cover the cost of rewiring your house. With SoFi, there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
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