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Fishing and running cable

You need the patience of a surgeon to run wiring through walls that are finished with drywall or plaster. At times you’ll feel like grabbing a hammer and knocking big holes in the wall to get at that darned cable. But remember that wiring is more fun than patching and plastering, so any steps you can take to minimize wall or ceiling damage will pay off in the end.

FOLLOW THE EASIEST PATH. If you have an unfinished attic or a basement, run as much of the cable there as possible. If a basement or attic is finished, run armored cable instead of NM. Use an electronic stud finder to locate joists and studs that may be in the way. You may be able to move a box a few inches to avoid an obstruction. Wherever possible, run cable parallel to studs or joists. First, cut holes for the boxes, then run the cable. If you’re running cable horizontally, guide it with a fish tape. If you’re feeding it up or down, drop a small chain from the upper opening to the lower and use the chain as a fish tape. If you plan to use power from an existing receptacle for your new service, make sure the circuit can handle the new load.

If the attic isn’t used for storage, you may be allowed to lay cable on top of the joists if you install 1x4 stripe on either side of the cable.

MATERIALS: Cable, remodeling boxes

TOOLS: Electronic stud finder, drywall saw, saber saw, drill, hammer, screwdriver, fish tape, flat pry bar, safety goggles

FISH TAPE - Flexible wire fish tape comes on reels and is essential for running cable in existing walls. Feed the tape through the wall from the junction box to the receptacle box. Then attach the wire to the tape and pull the wire through.

RUNNING CABLE UP, OVER, AND DOWN. If the attic is accessible, drill a hole through the top plate above the outlet you'll tap into and another above the new outlet. Drop a chain down through the hole above the new box, and grab it through the opening you've cut for the box. Tape the cable to the chain and pull both up into the attic. Feed the cable over to the hole above the existing outlet. Drop a chain again, and grab it through a small opening you've cut above the box. Install cable clamps, tape cable to the chain, and use the chain to pull cable from the attic into the box.

Running Cable Through A Floor

1 WORK WHERE THE CEILING AND WALL MEET. When there is no access from above or below, cut corner notches in the drywall or plaster, as shown. Drill a 1 -inch hole up through the center of the top plate. Bend the cable, poke it up through the hole, and grab it from the other side.

2 DRILL A LOCATOR HOLE. Remove the shoe molding below the box that you will be taking power from. Drill a 1/4 inch hole through the floor directly below the box and tight up against the wall. Poke a scrap wire down through the hole. Using the wire as a reference point, measure over to the middle of the bottom plate of the wall above [approximately 1 3/4 inches] and drill a 1 -inch hole up into the wall.

3 FEED THE CABLE. Drop a chain through the hole you cut for the box, and jiggle it until it falls through the hole you drilled. Tape the cable to the chain and pull the cable through the wall. Put a cable clamp in a box, feed the cable through it, and mount the box in the opening.

Running Cable In Finished Walls

RUNNING CABLE THROUGH A WALL. Cut the hole for the remodel box. Remove an existing receptacle and punch out a knockout in the back or bottom of its box. Run one fish tape through the existing box and one through the new hole. Hook them together. Pull tape back through the hole. Tape fish tape to cable, then pull cable from the hole to the box.

RUNNING CABLE AROUND A DOOR. If you have a slab floor and no access to the ceiling, this may be your only option, but check to see if this is OK with local codes. Remove casing from around a door opening and run cable around the door. You may be able to slip the cable between the jamb and the stud. Or, drill a hole and run the cable in the cavity on the side of the stud.

RUNNING CABLE BEHIND A BASEBOARD. Use a flat pry bar to remove baseboard molding. With a drywall saw, cut a channel in the drywall at least 1 inch shorter than the baseboard. Drill holes through the centers of the studs and run cable through the holes. Protect all holes with nail plates.

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