I"m a first time new home owner, and a wanna be do it yourselfer.
I am wanting to upgrade the electrical wiring in my home because none of it
has a ground wire. When running the new wire is it good to cut holes in the
wall, or fish tape.
A main concern I am having with the project is that many of the outlets are
on external walls.
Any tips on howto best complete this project. And also a good place to find
Well you need to learn about home construction so you know what is inside
your walls. Might be best to start will installing just one new outlet.
Tear out the drywall (if that is what you have) and this will expose what is
inside the wall. Just tear out about 1 ft. wide and from floor to ceiling.
Then learn about what is inside the wall. You may have studs, maybe
insulation, maybe a fire block, etc. Maybe you will see pipes and wires
inside the wall.
Get a book on home construction and this will teach you about what you are
looking at inside the wall.
Then you will need to run the new wire to the main panel. This can be done
through the attic, through the ceiling, through a basement, along a brick
wall, etc. Learn about how your home is constructed and where you can run
the new wires.
You will need lots of tools.
Next get a book on home wiring. Read it cover to cover.
Then get an electrical permit to install your new outlet. You can ask the
inspector questions before doing this, but it would be better if you have
read a book on home construction and electrical wiring first. Then you will
have a basic understanding of terms used to describe things (can communicate
your plans to inspector better).
Once you install your new outlet, you will need to learn how to replace the
drywall you removed, and get it to match the surrounding wall.
Then after you have installed one new outlet, you will understand what is
involved, what is inside the walls, and how you can re-wire existing outlets
or install new outlets. And that you may be able to fish wires or just cut
out small portions of walls to run wires.
There is a lot of stuff to learn, and a lot of tools to buy. May want to
check and see what books are available at your library. The more you know
about home construction, tools, and electrical wiring, the better.
Doing these projects can cost a fortune if you do not yet have the tools. So
if you just bought your house and are cash drained as I was when I bought my
house, might want to stick to the reading for now...
Also you can ask specific questions here. Best to give as many details as
possible. Especially about your external wall construction. Brick, wood,
etc. Best to ask one specific question at a time, like "I want to install a
new outlet on external wall". Then give details of what you want to do.
"joe" wrote in message
What kind of cable do you have? Steel cable uses the metal covering as the
ground. If you have this type of cable you may just have to replace the non
grounded outlets and attach a ground wire from the box to the new outlet.
On Mon, 17 Oct 2005 07:25:35 -0400, "RBM" <rbm2(remove
Yes, exactly what kind of cable he has now is very important. Before
Romex it was call BX iirc. It has a spiral metal cover that functions
as a gound.
People lived in your house and millions like it without getting killed
or even shocked for decades, maybe for 100 years. So maybe you don't
have to do this. A whole house is a bigggg job. Practice on one
added outlet or light that you probably need somewhere.
Don't stand in water while you do anything. I have three wire and
everything, and during the last flood I had from my kitchen sink
above, I was standing in water, and I tried to unplug something by
pulling on the cord from a foot away from the plug, and I got a small
voltage shock while I did it. (2 seconds?) I guess I could have
been killed, Although I have gotten 110 volts before, never from my
hand to my feet and never when any part of my body was wet.
The wire was insulated but I guess the leak made the dirty wire wet,
and it conducted some electricity.
And there was a guy at Beth Steel killed by a radio. I can't imagine
what happened, unless the case had a piece missing. After that, all
of us even in the office building had to use three pronged appliances
for everything, even if we brought in our own fan or radio.
Despite all these horror stories, I'm still saying that if you use
proper behaviour, what you have now is probably safe, and if you don't
use proper behagviour, even after you improve it, you wont' be safe.
If it has the metal sheath now, putting in 3 wire cable won't be an
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
Wet you feet (not literally!) with a small branch circuit that you can
isolate reliably (there's probably no such thing in an old house!)
Verify with a multimeter once you throw the breaker that the circuit is
dead. Then if there no conduit, put up some. Rewire with #10 or #12
depending on the load. Put in GFCIs. You'll get an idea of your
appetite for this project. If you have conduit already, you will learn
the joys of pulling new wire. #10 or 12 is stiff enough to thread
without a snake, if you have 2 bends or less. Get a pro to do difficult
things like replace the meter, etc.
If you have never done this before, I suggest several weeks of planning and
studying. Read as many books as you can. Talk to electricians. Go visit
home construction sites to get an idea of what is in the walls.
You might want to find an electrician that will work with you. You could be
his helper as you learn from him. I did this a few years ago with a young
man who wanted to rewire an old house that he bought for investment. He was
very willing to learn and had done a tremendous amount of homework on home
wiring. He had bought his own tools and I gave him a material list and
suggested some supply houses. He worked very hard and I showed him a few
tricks. He had also studied the National Electrical Code book and
consequently was able to do things to code which was beneficial during
Always get a permit and inspection for your work. Doing it wrong could be
harmful to property and human life.
Home wiring is not something that you can learn much about by reading a few
articles or postings on the internet. Do you think that I could do your job
very well if my only knowledge came from a newsgroup? I have seen a lot of
do-it-yourself wiring. Much of it was sloppy. Some of it has been
hazardous. Only a small percentage of it has been impressive.
If the wiring is adequate except for the lack of a ground wire, you can
run a seperate ground wire back to the panel -- or the nearest grounding
electrode conductor (GEC) if that's more convenient -- without having to
tear our the walls. You can buy a 60" springy steel drill bit. Punch a
very small (patchable) hole in the wall next to an outlet that needs
grounding and fish the drill bit in the wall and drill you way to the
attic or basement. You can then use the drill bit to fish a green wire
back, which you use to ground the outlet and the box.
In my case, the GEC was easier to get to than the main panel, so I
collect the new ground wires there under a couple of BIG split-bolt
You also don't need to ground every outlet in the house. Convenience
outlets in the bedroom, for instance, are probably just fine without a
ground. Ground one outlet in each room on an interior wall maybe.
Well, then it might not be possible without ripping the walls open. Did
you want to learn how to drywall also?
It once took me all day to install a switch on an outside wall, and all I
had to do was run the cable up to the attic. Good luck with a whole house.
I highly recommend taking a course in home wiring, if you can find one
locally. Around here they are offered at high schools and the local
I went through the same thoughts when I bought my house 2 years ago. I was
going to retrofit ground to some outlets (mainly because it is inconvenient
to use adapters to plug some appliances in, like computers which routinely
have a ground prong.
Initially, I ended up replacing a few receptacles with GFCI receptacles
which although not really a safety ground, does give you similar protection
and is allowed by code. No new wire to run and you get that all important
third hole. You need a GFCI for each outlet you want to convert, using the
load output from one GFCI is not advised to add protection downstream like
you can do with a 3 wire system.
Ultimately I waited until I remodeled some rooms at which time I had the
walls open and could easily replace all the wire to that room and adjacent
rooms (sharing a wall) which was over 50% of the house. With minimal prior
experience, I did all the new plumbing, electrical, framing and wallboard
etc. You can do it if you think you can. Just buy 2-4 books on the subject
and get comfortable with the methods before starting.
If you insist on running new wires, you use all of the above methods to get
from point A to point B. Use whatever works for each wire and change methods
as required. Unfortunately most wiring is stapled inside the walls and
cannot be easily replaced without making many holes. A good compromise is
to remove the bottom 24" of wallboard in all rooms which will give you
access to most of what you need to get at. With 24" this is 1/2 of a 4x8
sheet of wallboard making fewer cuts when you close up.
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