Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Do's And Dont's - Some Thoughts

Thinking about re-wiring your historic home? What follows are some of my thoughts on the things one should do, or not do, when undertaking such a project, whether it be done by the homeowner, or by hiring a professional electrician.

DO keep things consistent, in terms of location of outlets, switches, and other electrical boxes. Some may question why I installed all of the receptacle outlets horizontally in the baseboard. The houses original dozen or so outlets were installed this way, so I continued with the rest the same way.

DON'T just do the minimum that the code requires. If you are dropping hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on the project, you might as well do the job right. Put in sufficient (or more than sufficient) lights and outlets, and don't let anyone tell you "that's all you need to do". Once you close everything up, repair all the openings, and put your tools away, you don't want to come back to the job because you left something useful out.

DO make certain you have the skills and experience necessary to undertake the job yourself, or hire a licenced electrician with the same attributes. Many obstacles I encountered, and issues I resolved are things that simply took a bit of thought and imagination to deal with. Re-wiring these old houses is absolutely nothing like wiring a new framed house (trust me, I have done work on both).

DON'T exclude things because you think (or someone tells you) it can't be done. With time, patience, and yes money, anything reasonable can be accomplished. How much extra work was it really to wire in not just one, but three staircase lights in our front foyer? I now have a chandalier, landing light, and hall lights operated via three-way switches at both the bottom and top of the stairscase.

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