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I just had an electrician replace the old 100A fuse box of my 1954 house, with a 200A breaker box. The breaker on my meter base and wires between breaker and breaker box were also replaced with 2/0, 2/0, 2/0,

I plan on rewiring the house in the coming months for two reasons:
1) aside from the kitchen, everything else (living, dining, bath, 3 beds) is on two circuits, and
2) the old cloth wrapped wire looks rather deteriorated in places. The breaker box is in the basement (unfinished), under the kitchen.

1) I have read conflicting opinions on forums about house rewires (i.e should I go through the basement or through the attic). I gather this is more of a convenience/cost issue for contractors, but what would you all recommend? It may be worth noting that I plan on finishing the attic.

2) I plan to put each individual room on its own breaker. Are there any best practices for running the new wire (either in the basement or attic) to each room (i.e. shortest path? organized to one side/center of house?). Currently each socket/switch are connected with a daisy chain of wires across the bottom of the floor joists in the basement.

3) If I go through the basement, can I come up through an existing hole and go around the room behind the base board (to eliminate the daisy chain in the basement)? The sheetrock does not go all the way to the floor, and there is a gap below the wall studs, behind the baseboard.

4) I have seen older (100+ year old) houses in town with outlets in the baseboard. If I plan on adding outlets, is this practice still acceptable?

I apologize for all the questions in one, but they are somewhat related.

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    Depending on where you live, the first place to start will be with your local municipal/county planning department to see how much of this you can do yourself and where an electrician needs to be involved. – Fiasco Labs Jul 21 '14 at 20:11
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    Most of these questions are considerations of cost, expediency, and tolerable disruption specific to your circumstances. It will be difficult for anyone else who can't see your house, framing, roofing, foundation, room layout, etc. to advise what is "best". – wallyk Jul 21 '14 at 20:21
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    Don't think I can fully answer your question. But... My advice: since this is your home and you don't have to pay for labor, learn how to bend conduit. Run conduit as much as framing allows (a must in unfinished basement). I would not recommend putting any kind of cable under the baseboards. – Edwin Jul 21 '14 at 21:05
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    There are places to wing it. Electrical work is not among them. Screwing a new doorstop to the base board could be fatal if wires have been run behind it. Learn and follow the electrical code. It's not there just for the sake of rules. Everything in it is the result of experience. Often there was a dead body or an ambulance at the location where it was gained. – ben rudgers Jul 21 '14 at 21:55
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    Well, it is Alabama. I called to verify. – Barbarossa Jul 21 '14 at 22:46
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If your basement is even somewhat functional then I would try to wire to the attic. I think a good rule of thumb would be would you let your out of work cousin stay in your basement a few days? If it is even that nice I would go for the attic, given that you can reasonably get to almost all areas of your attic. Remember for bedrooms with outer walls that you will have to drill your holes probably from the bedroom and be in a very very tight space in the attic pushing them down. Also know that if you choose basement because the attic sounds like less fun that basically you can't go back to a better solution without starting over.

I have rewired 20+ houses in my life. I think I am pretty good with electricity (passed local NEC tests on multiple occasions). I wouldn't even think about doing a whole house myself. At the very least I would work with a local electrician. It is very well that you could do all of the labor and have the electrician OK the planning and make final connections. I have paid less than 1K after substantial prepping for a small 3 bedroom.

How do you normally wire? Well if it is attic or basement I normally do a runway for each side of the house and try to keep all of my runs on two lines. So in the attic, I go up and choose right or left based on first room location. Then I go down that side's runway (next run will be about 2 inches away) and down as fast as I can - if I need to go out then I like to do so at 90 degrees. This isn't rocket science but inspect and think about it before you get in your attic. Good planning will put runways on inside walls of rooms going down that path.

The baseboard thing... I don't even know what to tell you about that. It's not safe. Electrical outlets are fine in baseboards - not the wiring running behind them. Why would you possibly think about doing this when you have to redo your house? Why redo your house if you are going to do this bad of a job? If I bought your house with baseboard wiring I would be buying it knowing it is a rewire plus major drywall work. If your local inspectors aren't setting you straight on this please get some advice from a local electrician or even real estate agent.

And that bring me to the next point... The rewiring of a house is about half the work (the thinking half). The other half is fixing all the walls you had to tear apart. I will tell you if you have stud framing and drywall you will need to rip out a vertical section of each room to get to outlet level and possibly a couple squares for light switch. For the rest of the room my team cuts two feet off the bottom all the way around the room, about 6 inches above trim. Hopefully we don't have to pull the trim. This allows us to cut our sheets in half and install. Gives enough room to work and drill holes. Also the 6 inches is enough to smooth out the mud.

If you aren't planning on doing that in each room... don't rewire your house. Also make sure that each room has a light switch on it by the door connected to something on the ceiling... and that light should not be on the same circuit as rest of room if you can help it.

Not trying to rant but this is a big job and if you are living in the house almost impossible. At the very least have the others spend a long weekend somewhere and get the bedrooms wired/drywalled/first coat of mud.

  • thank you for the advice. I like the clean look of outlets in baseboards. I want to mention that the attic has a tongue and groove floor, so I'd hate to tear it up. I read here and other places that it is acceptable to run romex through studs, along with a protective sheild, behind baseboards. This would eliminate the need to tear out drywall. – Barbarossa Jul 23 '14 at 15:42
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Rewiring a house is an advanced activity; you have to understand what is code and what is reasonable, and then understand how to get wire to the places where you need to get wire. This will probably involve damage to some finished surfaces. I would not go the baseboard route, as it doesn't look very good and you would need to protect the wire against nails. It's also very hard to deal with doors.

Having access to the attic and basement makes this easier to do, but it's still going to be tough work.

I have three bits of advice.

First, talk to your permitting authority and see what requirements there are for work in your area.

Second, consider paying an electrician to draw up a plan for you.

Third, get a copy of Cauldwell's "Wiring a House".

  • Cauldwell's book is awesome. I just got it from the library today and am loving it. – milesmeow Sep 21 '16 at 21:51
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The Rehab Guide series of books (Vol 1-9) is a great help for all you DYI work around the house. Vol 7 deals with Electrical and Electronics.

Follow this link: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/publications/destech/rehabgds.html

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