Installing your own wiring at home is both satisfying, and inexpensive, and you get everything exactly where you want it. A word of caution though – this is not a job for the hopeful amateur. If you are not completely confident in your abilities, then get a professional electrician involved from the start. Saving money and loosing your home to a fire in the process is not good sense, so think carefully before you begin.
Planning Your Scheme
If you are enjoying the luxury of having your property built for you, then you can decide exactly what goes where, and install as the property is constructed. For most people though, re-wiring, or extending the wiring on an existing property is what’s required, and careful planning is essential if you want to avoid extensive alteration and re-decoration. So you need to plan and design everything you are wiring in advance, and consider the implications of what goes where.
The Wiring Cabinet
This is going to be the central point of your scheme, so it needs to be sited carefully. Unless your house has been built within the last ten years, the chances are the original electrician has sited the Cabinet in the cupboard under the stairs. In theory, this is ideal – it’s out of sight, in an area that has little practical use other than as a storage zone. But if you are doing a complete re-wire, it might be a good time to consider that this is not really an ideal site at all. Think about the drilling you need to get to the other areas of the house – you have got to go through the floor, two triangular walls, and the stairs, in order to start wiring anywhere. Add to that the accessibility of your Cabinet while you work, and the fire safety aspect, and the under-stairs location starts to look a lot less attractive. In mature properties, a cupboard by a chimney breast as your Cabinet will give you easy access, as well as a ready-made channel to the other floors and areas. For a newer property, consider the dining room or hallway, and check out ease of access from there.
Floorboards are heaven-sent for home wiring. You can remove small sections to wire through, and the joists underneath, which will run at right angles to the boards, can be used for long wiring runs. Try to avoid drilling into the joists where possible, but if not, drill in the middle, and make sure your hole is no bigger than an inch in diameter. Use under floor spaces if you have them. The quickest and easiest route is from your Cabinet up to the attic or roof space, along to the appropriate wall, and then down to the desired electrical point location.
Take the time to make sure that your cable runs are efficient, and use the correct tools to minimise the size and number of holes you need to make in walls, floors and ceilings. If you are running audio or video cabling, the systems will run perfectly well down 100m of cable, so if a longer run means less disruption, don’t be afraid to use that route.
Avoiding Mains Cabling
Obvious, but still absolutely essential. If your property has been wired correctly, and conforms to IEE Wiring Regulations, then all mains cables will be buried a minimum of 50mm below the surface, and protected against damage. Recognised area for mains wiring are with 150mm of a vertical or horizontal line from any electrical outlet, or within 150mm of a horizontal or vertical corner. Your drills is an essential tool, but remember, so is your tape measure. Check before you drill every time.
Using Plumbing Routes
If your property has central heating, the pipe routes are ideal to use as wiring routes. Remember; don’t allow any wires to run in contact with any water pipes, especially if they carry hot water. Don’t be tempted to run your wires through the holes occupied by the pipes, drill new ones close by. Remember water and electricity don’t mix!
Done properly, your home wiring is going to last you for years and be trouble and maintenance free. It makes sense to make all that careful planning and design time worthwhile by taking your time doing the job. Don’t decide to do the whole thing in a weekend and then rush to finish. Allocate proper times to do the job slowly and carefully, and check every scheme as you complete it, and terminate everything before you move on. Finally, make sure your new Cabinet has a heat-sensitive alarm fitted, and there are no flammable materials stored in or near it. Safety and care are the basis of any good home wiring system. If you have doubts, get a professional to check everything.