When Do You Need to Rewire a House? (Safety Precautions)

Photo of an electrician rewiring a house. When Do You Need to Rewire a House?

A house’s wiring isn’t necessarily a “one and done” situation. You may have to look at rewriting it. But when do you need to rewire a house? Take a look and see for yourself.

The biggest reason to rewire a house is that it’s more than 40 years old. After this amount of time, the supplies are outdated, and you might be dealing with equally outdated features, such as ungrounded outlets.

You should also consider rewiring your house if you have added new high-draw appliances or made a major extension to your home that could overload your electrical panel.

You’ll also want to consider rewiring your house if you rely entirely on extension cords for getting power to where you need it. Most importantly, you’ll want to consider rewiring if you notice any hazardous signs of electrical problems, including buzzing sounds, common tripped breakers, flickering lights, or hot outlets/cords. I’ve covered more on those and more below.

Signs that you need to rewire your house

As I mentioned above, there are several signs that you need to consider rewiring your house sooner rather than later. Let’s look at them again in more detail to help you understand why they matter:

  • Your home is more than 40 years old
  • You have a lot of ungrounded outlets
  • You’ve added major appliances to your home
  • You’ve remodeled or renovated
  • You rely on extension cords to get power 
  • You’re noticing warning signs of a problem

Your home is more than 40 years old

The first reason to consider rewiring your home is that it’s more than 40 years old. In that time, there are bound to be updates to the electrical system and the capacity of modern electrical systems that require an update and upgrade. Sometimes electrical systems can last longer than 40 years, but you’ll still want to consider rewiring.

You have a lot of ungrounded outlets

Ungrounded outlets are no longer installed in modern homes. Most of our sensitive technology requires them nowadays, making it essential to consider rewiring your house if all you have is ungrounded outlets. It’ll keep your tech safe and help your home have a lot more function to it.

You’ve added major appliances to your home

Major appliances mean more draw on your home’s electrical system. So, you’ll want to ensure that you focus on rewiring your home if you’ve added one or more major appliances to the home. This could include a washing machine, a dryer, a stove, etc. 

You’ve remodeled or renovated

If you’ve taken the time to remodel or renovate, you most likely put in some upgrades and updates. If those changes relate to electrical power, you’ll have to ensure that you continue your progress by updating your electrical systems. Ideally, you’ll combine remodeling and rewiring to help save from a double intrusion!

You rely on extension cords to get power 

Old house systems didn’t have requirements on where to place outlets, and they always tend to be in the wrong place for modern-day use.

If you are surviving entirely on extension cords, which aren’t safe to use long-term. In that case, you’ll want to consider having your house rewired to give you more outlets at more logical intervals.

You’re noticing warning signs of a problem

Another crucial reason to consider rewiring your home is that you’re noticing warning signs that you may have a faulty system or one that can no longer support your needs.

Common signs include burning smells or buzzing sounds, light bulbs that burn out a lot, arcing outlets, or signs of charring or burning with your outlets and light switches.

How often should a home be rewired?

You should rewrite your home every 25 years. After this, new technology can replace panels, wiring, and fixtures. Modern appliances won’t get along with older circuits or even the maximum draw that each circuit provides. You can use that as your benchmark, whether it’s for technical or safety reasons.

If your house is 20 years old, you can safely wait until it’s 25 years old unless you notice any of those warning signs I mentioned above. If you have a house that is 40, 50, or 60+ years old, rewiring should be a priority!


You’ll also want to consider rewiring if you have a known pest control problem since they can cause many issues with faulty wiring.

Does rewiring an old house add value?

You’d think so, right? Rewiring a house (especially an older one) adds appeal to shoppers and potential buyers but doesn’t increase the actual value of the house itself. If you are looking at listing your home soon, you’ll want to consider rewiring it to help you get a fair price.

Benefits of rewiring your house

So, why should you consider rewiring your house and its expense if it doesn’t add value? There are many benefits that I’ve already hinted at, including:

  • Better convenience for modern-day tech and appliances
  • A more reliable electrical system
  • Savings for electrical bills
  • Increasing your home’s appeal 
  • Safety and security
  • A better home insurance policy

How much does it cost to rewire a house?

What is it going to cost to write a house, anyway? It depends on the home’s size, how much wiring it currently has, and how much it will have when you’re finished. Most projects cost between $2 000-$10 000. 


When shopping for contractors, make sure that you get accurate quotes and get 3-5 of them so that you know what kind of range you’re looking at!

How long does it take to rewire a house?

The timing will also depend on your current electrical system, how complicated it’ll be to replace it, and how much expansion there will be. You’re expected to increase your electrical load since older systems work with fewer appliances. Most jobs can take four days, and some can take as long as two weeks.

Can you live in a house while it is being rewired?

You love your home and don’t want to leave it, especially during a major renovation where you want to ensure everything goes to plan. Home Building says that you can technically live in your home if you want to, but you’ll have to restrict that living space to one room and be prepared for a lot of noise, disruption, and long stretches with no power!

What is involved in rewiring a house?

The step-by-step process of rewiring a house is interesting when you think about how it all works! Take a look at the highlights:

  1. Plan out your rewire using an old blueprint to create a new, better one
  2. Crunch some numbers with your contractor both for financing and the electrical needs for the project
  3. Plan out where your access will be to run new wires (a crawl space, for example)
  4. Remove old wires and replace them with new wires
  5. Drill openings and install new wiring 
  6. Install a new panel and connect everything
  7. Test
  8. Have a final inspection

It all sounds easy when you see it listed out like that, but most of it will be “easier said than done.” The most important part of a rewiring project is to plan properly and work with a contractor you trust to see it through properly.

Does house insurance cover rewiring?

Since this job can cost a lot, trying to get your insurance provider to cover it is tempting. AmFam explains that most homeowner’s policies won’t cover a rewiring of a house since it’s a choice you make rather than a necessity. Homeowners’ policies typically only cover faulty wiring and any damage you have as a result.

Remember how I mentioned that one of the benefits of new wiring is that you can have a better home insurance policy? Some providers won’t offer coverage for outdated electrical systems. Even if the home is older and historic, insurance companies consider outdated aluminum and other older electrical systems too much of a safety risk. 

So, rewiring an older home with an outdated electrical system can give you proper, full coverage, just like any other home!

You should rewire a house older than 25 years old, and definitely if it’s 40 years old and even older. You can also do it when planning a renovation since you will upgrade your home anyway. The systems are outdated, unable to support modern appliances and convenience, and can be hazardous and even uninsurable.

Rewiring a house can be done for a decent price and in a surprisingly short amount of time. Just ensure that you know what’s involved in the process so that you can plan accordingly for it. Any time that you notice warning signs of a faulty or unsafe electrical system, as I explained above, you’ll want to make rewiring your entire house a priority.

Rosa Peterson

Rose is the writer and creator of Better That Home, a blog about home design and decor. Rose has been designing spaces for over 10 years and writing home design and decor for big publishers. She has been inspired by many other creatives from around the world and loves to share those inspirations with her readers. Read more about Rose here