Basic House Wiring
Rewiring an entire house would likely make most homeowners very nervous, but understanding how to do basic house rewiring, unlike replacing a light fixture or wall switch, is useful knowledge. Read on for some basic information of which every homeowner can take advantage.
When working on a certain electrical project, like replacing a light switch, it’s important to carefully remove wall plates and screws so that the switch can be pulled away from the wall, leaving the wires exposed. Before touching the wires, be certain that there is no current passing through. A helpful checklist for house re-devising includes:
- Turn off power to the circuit you are working at the circuit breaker
- Use a tester on the wires to make sure the power is out. Never take for granted that the breaker is properly labeled
- Remove the wall switch
- Apply same technique for removing wall receptacles
- Never fasten more than one wire to each side of the device. Pigtail wires into one single wire
- When replacing device, strip wire back 3/4″ & wrap around side screws on the device, tighten
- Make sure splices inside the box are twisted tightly together and capped with a quality wire nut
- When in doubt, consult Point Loma Electric
In standard residential wiring, single wires are wrapped in a cable. Two-wires with ground and three-wires with ground are the norm. Two-wires with ground contain a white wire (neutral), a black wire (hot), and a bare copper ground wire. Three-wires with grounding cables have a white wire (neutral), a black wire (hot), a red wire (also hot), and a bare copper wire. Older homes could have ungrounded cable or even have knob & tube wiring which is a single-wire system, one hot, one neutral used in the late 1900’s into the 1920’s. With these older systems, standalone wires are usually covered with black or white treated fabric.
Usually, the white wire is the neutral wire, the black wire is the live wire, and the open copper wire is the grounding wire. However, white wire can sometimes be used as a live wire in some procedures. If this is the case, the person who modified the wiring should have marked the white wire with either paint or electrical tape. Rule to remember: The neutral is always white, but the white is not always a neutral. Lastly, if a red wire is present, it’s likely to be live. Two circuits can exit a panel, black & red, each on a circuit breaker, sharing a common neutral. Or, the red wire can delineate the hot wire from the switched wire in a light switch box. The light fixture would connect to the red wire.
Obviously, a light switch turns the electrical current on or off. There are various types, including single-pole switches, three-way switches, four way switches, dimmer switches, and double (stack) switches. They may be wired anywhere within the circuit. Three way switches are used at either end of a common area, such as a hallway or a stair case. Four way switches are used anywhere in-between three way switches and there is no limit to quantity. There are many different ways lighting fixtures can be wired. Power can be ran directly to the switch box, then to the light. Or, power can be ran directly to the lighting outlet first, then a switch wire ran down to the switch box. Additional non-switched wires needed to continue the circuit on to other outlets would exit from the lighting outlet where power is sent to first. There are also present in some areas, 12v low voltage “touch plate” switching. These touch switches operate a bank of relays, usually located in the attic, and are complicated to work on. The relays close a contactor which sends 120v power to the light. They seemed like a good idea in the 1950’s. But the relays often failed and are hard to find replacements for, much less an electrician who’s ever seen them. We know how to work on those as well.
Upgrading Your Electrical Wiring
Information about basic rewiring is important to know but how do you know if your home is in need of an electrical wiring upgrade? If your San Diego home’s electrical system is wired with knob and tube or aluminum wiring, then you should research electrical upgrading or rewiring options. We are frequently called by customers requesting a house rewire. The good news is that rewiring your whole house is not always necessary. There are several other ways to upgrade your homes electrical system to meet your family’s electrical needs and keep your home and family safe without completely rewiring the entire house. If your home has knob & tube wiring, you have an old house! It’s definitely time to rewire. Knob & tube was the very first wiring method ever used. It’s over 100 years old. Aluminum wired homes are subject to problems at the outlet boxes and connection points. Ungrounded wiring can be improved by adding a single grounding wire to all outlets, but the labor is almost the same as replacing with all new grounded cable.
As your San Diego electrician, Point Loma Electric takes great pride in providing quality services and superior, professional results. Our team is experienced in dealing with all kinds of residential electrical problems, and we are experts at providing upgrades to your electrical system. You might be surprised by some of the electrical wiring catastrophes we’ve seen…and fixed! So rest assured, when you hire Point Loma Electric for your house rewiring, you’ll be hiring highly skilled, fully licensed, well insured electrical technicians that will provide you with top shelf, quality workmanship.
We’ve specialized in providing quality electrical services and rewiring older homes in San Diego since 1988. We are experts when it comes to improving the electrical systems of older homes. Whether you need a complete or partial house rewiring to take care of that old aluminum or knob and tube wiring, or you need a complete meter / panel upgrade, our professional San Diego electricians can handle all your electrical needs. And we don’t quit until we’re finished!