The U.S. Fire Administration attributed 23,500 house fires in 2016 to electrical issues or faulty wiring.1 Rewiring an older house is the best way to ensure it is up-to-date with modern electrical safety standards, but how much does it cost to rewire a house?
We’ll answer that question, as well as briefly describe the why and how of rewiring, in this article.
Older houses simply weren’t built with the capacity to power all of our modern appliances and gadgets. An old house might only have 60 to 100 amps of electricity available, while many modern homes have 200 amps.
Upgrading wiring will give you better capacity for power and make the home safer. Newer electronics require more electricity, and overloading the electrical system can lead to voltage spikes that could damage your electronics and even lead to fires or electrocution.
If you’re doing any remodeling, it’s a great time to update the electrical wiring in your house while you’re at it.
How Much Does it Cost to Rewire a House?
Cost factors generally include:
- A minimal service fee (depends on how far the electrician has to travel and the complexity of the job)
- An hourly rate for the electrician (based on their training and experience and the available electricians in the area)
- How much demolition is required (if any)
- Materials costs (new wiring, possibly a new service panel, new outlets, switches, and fixtures, as needed)
- Required level of expertise for the job
- Size and age of your house
- How easy or difficult it is to access the wiring to be replaced or updated
- Whether it’s a complete rewiring or only a few wires can be replaced
All of these factors combine to make general ranges vary from $1,500 for a small house with easy access to wiring to $20,000 or $30,000 for a large home with wiring that’s difficult to access.2
How to Know When a House Needs Electrical Rewiring
Houses 50 years old or older may have outdated wiring equipment known as knob and tube wiring. Although it’s not radically dangerous, it does emit heat, which can make it more prone to starting fires when surrounded by insulation.3
Newer wiring is safer. It’s contained inside a non-metallic sheath and doesn’t get hot when it is in contact with insulation.
Some warning signs that it might be time to update the wiring in your home include:
- Fuses blowing, or circuit breakers tripping frequently
- Blackened or discolored switches and outlets, or if they feel warm to the touch
- A burning smell that lingers, sometimes also accompanied by a crackling sound
What’s Involved in Rewiring a House?
An electrician will conduct an inspection to see how much of the old wiring needs to be replaced, and how to get to it. If some of the wiring has been updated in places over the years, it might only require a simpler and less expensive rewire. This would only require a few cuts in the walls and maneuvering wiring through the walls, basement, crawlspace, or attic.
The more in-depth and expensive method would involve tearing down existing walls, replacing the old wiring, and then putting up new drywall. Obviously, if you’re already doing some remodeling, it’s a great time to have an electrician in to see about updating the wiring while things are disassembled.
What to Look for in an Electrician
The first thing to do is a little research online. Look for electricians with plenty of experience and many good reviews.
When reviewing an electrician’s credentials, you’ll want to find someone who is:
- Licensed - They have obtained a license from the state licensing board to verify that they have the skills and ability to perform professional electrical work.4
- Insured - They have insurance in case of any property damage or worker injuries that could potentially occur in your house.
- Bonded - They hold an insurance policy that guarantees they will complete the work required in a satisfactory manner or else you will be compensated by the bonding company.
It’s recommended to get multiple bids from several electricians. Ask them to break down exactly what will be done—and how much it might cost—as line items in your estimate.
You can also ask the electrician for references from past jobs. They should have a few happy customers to connect you with so you can verify their performance with real people who have worked with them.
Rewiring your house will give you a renewed peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment in that you’re proactively protecting your home and family. That’s something that’s not easy to put a price on.
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