Adding switches, lights and outlets in finished walls can be tricky. But there are ways to do it without destroying the walls or putting yourself through a huge DIY ordeal.
One way is to run wires from one electrical box location to another. This can be done by drilling holes in the wall plates at the bottom or top of a stud cavity.
Cut a Hole
When running wires from one electrical box location to another, the easiest way is to cut a hole through the wall. You can do this without removing the baseboard molding.
First, use a stud finder to locate the studs. Studs are 1 1/2″ wide and are 16″ or 24″ apart (except in windows and doorways).
Next, drill a hole close to the studs’ center using a flexible bit shank. Depending on the length of the hole, you can use a 12-bit drill or a 72-inch flex-bit.
Now, if the wire will be run through the ceiling, make a smaller hole that will fit inside the opening. This will reduce the risk of a wire falling through the hole.
Once you’ve made the hole, run your wire from the basement or crawlspace to the room where you want it. Then, feed the wire through the hole in the drywall. It may take several pulls to get the cable through the drilled hole.
Drill a Hole
When you need to run wires through walls, it can be a tricky job. You might have to drill through drywall, brick or other wall material to run power cables, water pipes or wiring for a home ventilation system.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help keep your work safe. One of the most important is to choose the right drill bit.
Before you start drilling, you should always make a sketch of the route you want the cable to take. This will prevent you from cutting holes that don’t need to be made and will also help you avoid hitting power and water pipes.
Drilling through a wall can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to use a stud finder to check if there are any pipes or wires behind the drywall. If there are, you’ll need to get creative and try a few alternative methods.
Feed the Wire
If you’re planning to run wires through a wall, you’ll need some type of tool to help you feed the cable through. Fish tape works well for this task, and it’s often a good idea to have someone else at the other end to help you pull it through.
If there is insulation in the wall, it may be difficult to fish the wire through it without tearing it out. Unless the insulation is extremely dense, however, you should be able to feed the wire along the studs in the wall.
The ideal method of wire feeding is to overcome both static friction and kinetic friction in the conduits carrying the wire. This requires a high torque, which is why many arc welding shops use an air wire assist motor to help feed the wire.
To minimize frictional forces, choose conduits with the correct interior profile. For example, one structural shop with both GMAW and FCAW cells trimmed their conduits for less than 4 pounds of friction at the feeder (see observation 1 and 14 in Figure 5).
Connect the Wire
When you need to run wires through a wall, it’s important to make sure they connect properly. If they don’t, you could get a short circuit or even electrocute yourself.
Before you drill any holes, use a stud finder to scan the walls for any potential obstructions that might prevent you from running wires in a straight line. If there are any studs on one side of the hole, but not the other, you should try to find another route instead.
If there are no studs, it might be easier to cut out a section of drywall and drill the cable into that. Be aware that this is more work than simply drilling a hole through the drywall and then patching it back up, but it can save you time in the long run.
Alternatively, you can also use molded plastic cable raceways to hide the wires within your walls. This option is usually more expensive than a simple fish tape, but it can give your home an uncluttered appearance.
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