How To Rewire A House Without Removing Drywall

electrical wiring plan in a house

Making sure your home has appropriate wiring is important. Improper wiring doesn’t just lead to electrical shorts and outlets not working. It can lead to house fires and the entire property burning down because a current was overloaded, or the wiring caused a spark which caught the wood and insulation on fire. It’s best to rewire the house whenever this is an issue (which might come up if the house is old or if a previous owner attempted to perform the wire installation on their own, without the aid of a professional.) Should you discover the wiring is bad you’ll need to know how to rewire a house without removing drywall.

How to Rewire a House without Removing Drywall

electrical wiring in a wall

If you’re completely renovating a home (or even just a room) you may want to remove the drywall. Drywall is easy to remove and nearly as easy to install. However, it is time-consuming and an added expense. If you’d rather avoid this extra expense, you will need to know how to rewire a house without removing drywall. Each house is a little different, but the wiring installation and rewiring process should be more or less the same (unless the previous homeowner installed the wiring in an extremely poor way, in which case you may need to remove some drywall based on how the wiring was put in.)

1. Plan the Removal

The only real way to remove the wiring without taking out the drywall is to perform the task above in the attic or crawl space between floors (ideally it will be in the attic as this will at least give you a bit more space to work with). You will need a detailed plan of what wiring you intend on removing. This way, you know what rooms to avoid and what wiring you’ll leave intact.

You will also want to measure out how much wire you’ll need. If you’re doing this on your own, the better the measurements the easier it becomes. If you have an assistant, you can at least have someone in the room you’re feeding the wire to, whether it’s an electrical outlet, a power switch, or a lamp.

2. Make Room

You need to make room for where the wiring will slide through. You may need to remove some insulation so you have a clear path for feeding the wire down to the outlet.

3. Turn Off the Circuit You’re Working On

Before you begin, always turn off the circuit you’re working on. To be safe, you may want to just turn the power off to the entire house. Naturally, you’ll want to do this during the day and you’ll need flashlights on hand. But you don’t want to run the risk of electrocuting yourself while working with the wiring.

4. Remove the Wiring

The old wiring may be stapled behind the walls. Now, if you didn’t want to replace the drywall but weren’t against patching it, you could always pull the wiring out from inside the room. This would leave a thin tunnel path behind the wiring which you could easily patch. If you were going to paint the room, this is one quick option. However, if you don’t want to do this, you can pull the wiring from inside the crawl space.

5. Feed the New Wire

Send the new wire through. If you measured correctly, the wire should feed down from above and drop down to the opening in the wall.

6. Continue the Process

From here, just continue the process of feeding the wiring down to the correct outlet. It’s best to do one room at a time and then test the wiring by turning the electricity on. This way, you know what you’re doing is working. The last thing you want to do is to wire the entire area from the crawl space or attic and discover something is wrong.

10 Tips for Rewiring an Old House

old electrical socket and how to rewire a house without removing drywall

There are a number of tips and tricks for how to rewire a house without removing drywall. You need to keep each of these 10 tips in mind whenever it comes to how to rewire a house without removing drywall.

1. Extra Flashlight Batteries

You’ll want to keep extra flashlight batteries on hand while you go through the how to rewire a house without removing drywall process. This way, in case you’re in the middle of the job and your flashlight begins to die, you’ll be able to swap out the batteries without stopping all work.

2. Measure and Cut the Wiring

If you’re working in a small crawl space, you’ll want to measure and cut the wiring before you head in. There won’t be a ton of space to move around. Instead, you’ll want to cut everything ahead of time. This way, you can slide all the wiring into place and not deal with attempting to cut and measure while you’re in the crawl space.

3. Leave Yourself Some Slack

Measuring the wiring is important, but you do want to give yourself some slack. The slack is beneficial in that you have a bit more room to connect to the outlet or light switch (especially if you don’t strip the wire cleanly the first time).

4. Have Help

Realistically you can do it on your own. But you should try to have someone at your disposal to work with you. It’s much easier to have someone in the room to catch the wire than to try to do it yourself. This will make the process faster too.

5. Taught to Rafters

Because you don’t want to remove the drywall, you won’t be able to staple the wire down. You don’t want the wire potentially disconnecting and falling to the floor behind the drywall. So make sure to attach it to rafters to keep it secure.

6. Junction Box

You’ll want to keep your wire organized (which makes it helpful should you want to add on anything later). The best way to do this is to use junction boxes above every room. This way the wiring connections for each room are organized.

7. When in Doubt, Call a Professional

If you feel stuck and you’re not sure what you should be or shouldn’t be doing, you need to call in a professional. While an electrician is likely more money than you may want to spend, it is a viable option that will help you avoid doing anything wrong.

8. Is Not Damaging the Drywall Worth It?

If you are performing the installation on your own, you need to think about whether avoiding damaging the drywall is really worth it. You may only need to patch a small portion of the drywall. So you need to consider if it’s better for you to try to do everything from the ceiling or if you’re alright with not damaging the drywall.

9. Masking Tape

As you’re installing everything it’s great to mark each wire so you know what it’s connected to. Wrapping a small piece of masking tape and writing down what it’s connected to makes repairs in the future a snap. Future homeowners and electricians will want to thank you for it for years to come.

10. Be Careful with the Old Wiring

Wiring can be surprisingly sharp. The wire that you remove can cut and strip your skin. While feeding the wiring through the walls it’s fine to use your bare hands. However, after you have finished feeding the wiring through and you’re ready to cut, you will want to use electrical gloves.

The same is true when handling the old electrical wiring. The wiring might be frayed or there might be a considerable number of wire strands sticking out. If you’re not careful, you may end up cutting yourself. So for the entire process, you’ll want to wear gloves. This way you can avoid any unnecessary cuts and skin scrapes.

Continue the Process

From here, just continue the process of feeding the wiring down to the correct outlet. It’s best to do one room at a time and then test the wiring by turning the electricity on. This way, you know what you’re doing is working. The last thing you want to do is to wire the entire area from the crawl space or attic and discover something is wrong.

Conclusion

Rewiring your home is often a necessary expense. However, you need to know how to rewire a house without removing drywall as you won’t want to rip out the entire drywall as well as the wiring. While drywall isn’t difficult to install, it is an added expense while draining your time as well. By following these instructions for how to rewire a house without removing drywall you’ll be able to avoid the costly addition. You may want to contact an electrician, though, to perform the electrical wiring if it is an extensive job. Whatever you decide to do, by following these instructions you’ll now know how to rewire a house without removing drywall.

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