How to Install Residential Electrical Wire


Homes have numerous light fixtures, devices and appliances requiring electrical power. Outlets are positioned in every room --- typically multiple outlets per room. Installing residential electrical wire connects outlets to a main circuit breaker --- the main source of power --- generated from a larger, outside source. Electrical wire is one of the first installation requirements after basic framing has been completed on a new house; although new wiring can be added at any time. Consider consulting an electrical professional before attempting any electrical installations.

Things You'll Need

  • Pliers
  • Wire Staples
  • Drywall saw
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Turn off all circuit breaker power before attempting any actual connections.

  • Loop wire into a wall or ceiling using the circuit breaker as a starting point. Leave at least six feet of excess wire at the circuit breaker box for later installation purposes. Code requires a 12-gauge wire for most residential units.

  • Tack the wire with wire staples to wood 2-by 4-inch studs at every 12 inches. Continue until you reach your destination point.

  • Drill straight down through the ceiling from an upper floor stud to loop wire to the second floor.

  • Thread wire in through the top of a pre-installed outlet casing. All outlets must be a minimum of 16 inches off of the floor. Electrical on/off switches must be at least 4 feet off of the floor.

  • Splice wires using insulated pliers. Connect wires to outlets accordingly. Black and red wires symbolize "hot" energy pulled into the outlet from the circuit breaker. Alternatively, white wires symbolize "return" energy pushed back into the breaker. Ground wires are unsheathed and are intended to neutralize an electrical current in the event of an emergency. Screw in the outlet casing cover over the outlet once installation is complete.

  • Trim and connect the circuit breaker wires accordingly. Splice hot and return wires. Slide each wire into the correct connector listed on the proper breaker. Clamp the breaker shut and push the breaker back into place. The 6-foot excess from Step 2 is used to ensure enough cable remains at the box to complete installations once all wire is run.

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  • Photo Credit electric outlet 2 image by Dawn Williams from
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