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Old 12-14-2014, 12:40 AM   #1
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Essential tools for residential re-wire by homeowner


So far all of the questions I've asked have resulted with good answers (and discussion), and I appreciate the time that people take to respond to my posts.

I'm currently in the planning process (have been for a while now) to rewire my house. My goal is to bring it up to current code (currently no or inadequate grounding). Before I start pulling any wire, I want to have my ducks in a row.

Given that I'll be working with 90% NM-B, some THHN in existing conduit, and a half-dozen or so metal boxes, what tools should I have on hand?

I've been slowly adding to my tool collection. So far I have:
Klein 9" Linesman pliers
Klein wire cutters
Klein wire strippers
Good utility knife
Klein screwdriver set
Fiberglass fish rods
Harbor Freight 6" needle nose pliers (Pittsburgh brand)
Non-contact hot-stick
short piece (4' or so) of steel fish
3-light plug-in testers.

I also have assorted screwdrivers, cordless tool set (recip saw, cutoff saw, hammer drill/driver, flashlight), drywall tools, other typical household tools.

What I'm contemplating:
- Multi-meter (digital? Analog?) could come in handy, suggestions for brand/model welcome, unless its not really useful, but from the discussions I've seen here they will probably be extremely helpful in some situations.

- 54"-72"x 3/4" flexible drill bit in case I need to open up a new wire run along a straight line (though floor joists or wall studs for example).

Are there any other tools that I should be looking at acquiring for this project?

I figure the hardest, most labor intensive part is going to be finding wiring paths, fishing wire, and doing the least amount of damage to the house that I'll need to go back and patch/fix. Having the right tools on hand will make this project easier. I'm not really looking for tool suggestions for the odd-ball edge case, but more of tool suggestions that I'd likely need/should have on hand.

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Old 12-14-2014, 07:27 AM   #2
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Essential tools for residential re-wire by homeowner


You are well set with tools--just get started and buy the missing tools as you find a need---

The 'non contact tester' can be returned---buy a 'Wiggy' two wire tester---no way to test your neurtals with a non contact tester---

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Old 12-14-2014, 07:58 AM   #3
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Even though a non-contact tester is not foolproof IMO it is essential to have one. This is in addition to a real tester. IMO for resi work and general electrical a Fluke T5-1000 can't be beat, especially for the quality and price.
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Old 12-14-2014, 09:02 AM   #4
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It's nice to say you have a Fluke meter, but foor what you will need to measure you can go with the $7.00 Harbor Freight digital meter. You will only be needing to measure 120v or 240v and continuity. That meter is fine for that. For a DIY'er I would not spend a whole bunch of dough on a meter. More-so than anything else, your greatest tool is "knowledge". All the tools in the world is no substitute for knowing how to do it. Fancy tools only make the job easier and quicker. Especially on doing old work, knowing how to fish wires is an art. There are tricks for different situations if you know them. And of course if you get stumped, drop by here and ask questions. Good Luck
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Old 12-14-2014, 10:04 AM   #5
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The linemans already have a wire cutter so I see little reason to have a dedicated cutter.

I like the NM strippers. Cuts the sheath and also strips the wires inside.
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Old 12-14-2014, 10:14 AM   #6
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Drywall blades....
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Old 12-14-2014, 10:29 AM   #7
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Many people have pliers that would work but yes the kleins are the way to go.
My pref is the one with the crimp on it for grounding crimp lugs.

Needles nose ? Nope.

Fiberglass fish tape ? Nope. ( metal, so you can cut it for jiggling and twisting without the real getting in the way. Also to cut and walk away from if it gets stuck :- )

If you don't have any screw drivers then kleins are nice. A whole bunch? Just the thin an medium flat should be fine

Diagonal cutters are nice to have. The ones that are slightly angled which help give leverage for prying out existing staples.

Wiggy tester yes.

Rx stripper is good. Watch not to slice the conductor. There's a squeeze and rip off insulation you can do with the pliers instead.

Wire strippers are nice. Easier on the hands and prevents possible nicking of the copper when stripping.

Last edited by ritelec; 12-14-2014 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 12-14-2014, 10:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparky90 View Post
It's nice to say you have a Fluke meter, but foor what you will need to measure you can go with the $7.00 Harbor Freight digital meter. You will only be needing to measure 120v or 240v and continuity. That meter is fine for that. For a DIY'er I would not spend a whole bunch of dough on a meter. More-so than anything else, your greatest tool is "knowledge". All the tools in the world is no substitute for knowing how to do it. Fancy tools only make the job easier and quicker. Especially on doing old work, knowing how to fish wires is an art. There are tricks for different situations if you know them. And of course if you get stumped, drop by here and ask questions. Good Luck
A) It's NOT about saying one has a "Fluke" meter. It's about having a meter that is usable and will grow with you. This is far from a "fancy" meter, but having the open-jaw amperage measurement is a VERY handy thing for a DIYer.

B) I WOULD NOT trust a $7 POS HF meter. Period. End of story.

3) $100 is not that much money in the scope of things.
Besides, the guy is tooling up for a major renovation. He's not doing one quick job.
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Old 12-14-2014, 01:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
A) It's NOT about saying one has a "Fluke" meter. It's about having a meter that is usable and will grow with you. This is far from a "fancy" meter, but having the open-jaw amperage measurement is a VERY handy thing for a DIYer.

B) I WOULD NOT trust a $7 POS HF meter. Period. End of story.

3) $100 is not that much money in the scope of things.
Besides, the guy is tooling up for a major renovation. He's not doing one quick job.
If the OP wants to spend a hundred bucks that's fine with me. If he never uses it beyond this job, I think it is a lot of money to spend. The $7.00 POS will tell him all he needs to know for his job. I Have all the better meters and always end up using the $7.00 POS meter to do simple measurements that are not critical to the fraction of a volt. If he bought the $7.00 meter he has $93.00 to spend on something different that may be worth while. That's all I'm saying
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Old 12-14-2014, 02:10 PM   #10
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Essential tools for residential re-wire by homeowner


Craftsman/sears sells a decent meter for $20 or so. The problem with that $7 meter is the leads are crap and unreliable. Needle nose are nice to pre bend wire for switches and outlets IMO. And personally HF tools in my limited experience with them are soft and lack grip. HF has its place but their hand tools generally aren't it. Spend a few bucks more at sears or a box store. If you own Kliens you should already know what I mean. Dikes are nice due to small jaws when needed. My Kliens have a 5/8 thread chaser, linemans pliers.

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Old 12-14-2014, 02:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparky90 View Post
If the OP wants to spend a hundred bucks that's fine with me. If he never uses it beyond this job, I think it is a lot of money to spend. The $7.00 POS will tell him all he needs to know for his job. I Have all the better meters and always end up using the $7.00 POS meter to do simple measurements that are not critical to the fraction of a volt. If he bought the $7.00 meter he has $93.00 to spend on something different that may be worth while. That's all I'm saying

If he buys a 100 dollar meter. Then after the project is done, he can sell it for a lot more then 7 bucks.

If he decides to keep it for future work. It will be a lot more reliable then a 7 dollar HF meter is.
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Old 12-14-2014, 03:02 PM   #12
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B4B....

Not sure of the current status of your home wiring, but it sounds like you might have old 2 wire no ground....???

You may have alot of testing and analytic work figuring out your circuits if it is an old home especially if it was hacked up.

I've recently run into two Cali homes built 1949 and 1951, that were a nightmare tracing/figuring out some of the wiring.... and for some reason had a lot of ghost interferance/readings using a DMM.

You may want an analog meter or even better a non fancy basic Wiggy also.... that will negate those ghost readings... it can save a lot of scratching your head.

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Old 12-14-2014, 03:41 PM   #13
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So far what Iím hearing is that I have most of the tools I need.

I should consider:
Steel fish tape (no argument there)
Wiggy or a digital multi-meter
NM cable ripper.

Any thoughts on the flexible drill bit?
Rather than focusing on make/model, given the scope of this project, what functions should I look for in a test meter?

Klein, Ideal, GB, SouthWire, Craftsman, ExTech all seem to have meters too. Iím not opposed to used meters from online auctions either, especially if the price is significantly less than what it would cost new.

I should note when I installed low voltage cabling I used fluke testers, they were durable, reliable, and worked well. I know the value and reliability of fluke, but for this project Iíd like to at least look at any alternatives.

I use the non-contact tester to ensure power is cut, itís a cheap tester and gives me peace of mind after Iíve cut power. I also use it to see if a wire is live (should I find one just hanging around). Itís a quick tester and for what it is, it is a handy tool to have.

MTN -
I've already figured out what items are on which branch. I basically pulled the breaker and ran around with a couple of plug-in testers and recorded what was on each branch. It took a couple of hours, but at least I have an accurate directory. I'm not going to do much diagnostic work on the existing wiring, as it is all working well, and going to be replaced with modern wiring with an appropriate ground. Ok, so maybe I'm a bit optimistic here.

Any diagnostics I do with a meter will be for figuring out how I messed something up as I rewire, rather than figuring out how something is currently wired.

The house was built in the late 50's or early 60's, I'm the second owner. Most of the wiring on the main living level (the house is 2 floors, main living level, finished walk-out basement) is without a ground wire, just plain old 12/2 without ground. The outlets that were installed when we moved were all 2 prong, w/o any ground wire and they didn't hold anything in. I would plug something in, and it would fall out.

I pulled one outlet from the box just to see what I was up against, and the outlet immediately fell apart. I went though and replaced them with new TR/3-prong outlets. Before anyone says anything, this is totally and completely wrong, not code complaint as many of these outlets are ungrounded. I know now that I could have either bought 2 prong outlets OR used GFI outlets for code-compliant replacements.

The devices that are grounded use a much smaller gauge ground wire than the hot/neutral. If I had to guess, it's 16 gauge. The basement is somewhat grounded, but many of the outlets are showing open when using the plug-in diagnostic tester.

So for my project, I'm not taking any chances. I plan to wire all new branches <and pull the existing wire whenever possible>.

When I'm done my goal is to have the house wired 100% correctly and in a code-compliant manner and to never have to think about how we are currently rolling the dice with our current electrical wiring.

Thanks everyone for the posts/responses so far!
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Old 12-14-2014, 03:47 PM   #14
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I"m not sure if I missed anything but...

"WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU WANT TO REWIRE A HOUSE" ?

Even electricians don't like doing this. Extremely time consuming. Your probably talking 200-400 man hours minimum
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Old 12-14-2014, 05:23 PM   #15
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Cletus--He NEEDS to rewire the house---I'm sure he would rather go on vacation with his money--but the wiring NEEDS to be replaced,---No WANT TO involved here--just a need.

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