How to Install Old Work Lights

Posted by John on May 7th, 2014

Our home office remodel is going really well.  We just finished the joint compound work, the ceiling has been primed and painted and just this evening I finished installing the ceiling lights.  I just realized I owe you a complete list of every task we’ve completed and have planned for this space, that way you have a better idea of where we are.  I think I’ll save that status list for next time.

In today’s post, I’m showing you how to install old work lights.


coffered ceiling

If you’re not familiar with the term “old-work,” let me take a minute to explain it.  Old work is a term that describes the type of electrical work being performed or the type of electrical equipment being used.  In addition to “old-work,” there’s also “new-work.”  What’s the difference?  Good question.  New work refers to electrical work that is being performed on a completely unfinished space, like new construction for example.  New work electrical boxes are designed to be nailed right to an exposed stud BEFORE the drywall gets installed.  New work boxes are super easy to install in new work applications.  There are also new work light fixtures that get installed between overhead joists.

Old work on the other hand is for electrical work that is being done in a finished space.  The equipment is designed to be slipped into finished walls and ceilings.  Since you can’t nail an electrical box to a stud if the wall is covered with drywall, an old work box is designed to simply bite onto the drywall.  If you wanted to, you could always knock down the drywall to get access to the studs and then use new work boxes.  Depends on the situation.

In our office, we’re using old work for our overhead lights and receptacles (we had to move two outlets).  The overhead lights are being installed in a portion of the ceiling that’s already been finished.

The process to install the old work lights starts with the wiring and cutting the holes in the drywall for the lights.  I prefer to use 4″ halogen lights for nearly all overhead lighting applications.  Big fan of the smaller look and I love that the lights gimbal so they can be directed around the room.

box tabs

I’ll prepare my light fixture by removing one of the connector tabs from the attached electrical box with a screw driver or pair of pliers.

plastic romex connector

connector in box

Next, I’ll pop in a plastic romex connector to protect the wire from rubbing against the metal box.  You can also use the metal romex connectors.  A connector is absolutely required, otherwise the romex wire could rub against a sharp edge or burr on the box and cause a short.

pull cables into box

With the connector snapped into place, I’ll pull my wire through it until there is a few inches into the box.  Obviously, I have the power off at the breaker.  At this point, I stripped back my outer romex shield and wired the light to the house cable.  I’m not going to show that step, but if you’re interested in learning how to make electrical connections, I suggest you learn from someone in-person.  There are a ton of useful articles online as well as some great YouTube videos on wiring, but nothing beats some live, one-on-one training.

push light into hole

When the wiring is complete, I snap on the box cover and push the light into the hole in the ceiling.  Tabs extend out from the light housing and grab onto the drywall preventing it from falling back out of the hole.  The tabs actually keep the light fairly snug against the ceiling.

light baffle

Last step is to just snap in the halogen bulb and finishing cover.

coffered ceiling lights

The room looks completely different with all four overhead lights illuminated.  Gives the space a whole new feel.

In our next post, I’m going to share with you a new tool I bought to save a TON of time with the ceiling paint.  I love it so much, I’m going to use it on the walls.

Have you ever worked with an old-work electrical device or do you prefer the new-work stuff?

Posted in DIY Projects,Electrical,Lighting. Tagged in ,, ,

Tips for Passing an Electrical Inspection

Posted by John on March 13th, 2014

Just this morning, my local township electrical inspector stopped by and reviewed the electrical work I had performed for our home office improvement project.  He gave us a passing grade, which means I officially have approval to cover the framing with drywall and finish the room.  He pointed out a couple changes I need to make before he returns, so I do need to take care of those issues.  This is probably the third or fourth time he’s been out to our house for an inspection so I’ve learned to prepare for the things he likes to see.


9 Tips for Passing an Electrical Inspection

If you are considering attempting your own electrical work on your next project, I implore you to apply for electrical permits from your local government.

Applying to do my own work was a simple process.  In this case, all I did was fill out a couple of simple forms where I stated my name, address, the scope of the work being performed (adding 4 recessed lights) and the estimated cost of the work related to the permit.  After about two weeks, the township called me and let me know my permit was approved and ready for pickup.  I paid a $61 fee to the township and got started on the rough-in work.  Once I complete the rough-in work, I schedule the inspector and he pays me a visit.

The most anxiety inducing part of this process is the rough-in inspection, but if you follow these general guidelines, you’ll be much more likely to pass the first time.

1.  Ask the Inspector First.  When you schedule the inspector, try to actually have a conversation with him or her about what they expect to see and what pitfalls you can avoid.  All inspectors should be looking for the same checks, but some have additional requirements or pet-peeves that can fail you.  Checking with them first is a great way to establish a name to a face and get a sense of their general requirements.

2.  Don’t Add Any Devices.  During the rough-in inspection, there can’t be any devices on the circuits you are adding. No outlets, no lights, no switches, nada, nunca.  If you are adding an outlet to an existing circuit, then the NEW outlet should also not be installed either.  The rest of the outlets on that circuit that were originally there are probably fine, but if you disturbed the wiring in any outlet, it shouldn’t have a device for the inspection.

tie grounds

3.  Tie Your Grounds Together.  In each outlet or electrical box location, the ground wires should be tied together.  This is something my inspector noted today.  Don’t tie anything else together though.  The hot and neutral leads should remain separate.

fire block

4.  Fire Block.  Any holes or penetrations from one floor to the next or from one wiring passage to the next needs to be blocked so as to prevent a fire using the hole as a breathing hole or chimney.  Typically, you can use fire block expanding foam (which is bright orange in color) or regular fiberglass insulation to fill or plug these kind of holes.

plug holes

5.  Plug Holes in Boxes.  This one was new to me and I’ll have to fix it.  The electrical box I used have these bendable tabs where the cable enters.  Well one of these tabs snapped off.  The inspector told me I need to plug it.  I’ll probably use insulation and jam it in the hole here.

proper breaker

6.  Use Correct Breaker.  Another correction I’ll have to make is the circuit breaker I installed.  The breaker in this application needs to be an 15 amp Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and I had installed a regular 15 amp breaker.  The AFCI’s prevent arcs and are required on all circuits that feed living spaces (I think).  You can buy AFCI’s in any hardware store and they are several times more expensive than regular breakers.

7.  Don’t Power the Circuit.  Although the wires for the new circuit can be tied into the new breaker, the breaker needs to remain off or unpowered.  It shouldn’t be powered up until all the devices are installed.

wire nuts

8.  Cover the Wires with Wire Nuts.  All the wire ends need to have wire nuts on them even if they don’t have any exposed conductor.  Same goes for the ground wires.

9.  Secure Cables with Staples.  Cable runs need to be secured to framing every so many feet with cable staples.

That’s pretty much all I have for the rough-in inspection.  If you have any others, please leave them in the comments.  If you’ve never done your own electrical work, then I suggest you work with someone more experienced before you attempt it yourself.  Be safe and good luck.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it. 

Have any inspection horror stories?  I’d love to hear those too, so leave them in the comments section.

Posted in DIY Projects,Electrical. Tagged in ,, ,

Install an Electrical Outlet in the Garage

Posted by John on August 25th, 2013

When we built our home back in 2010, we had the option of adding as many additional electrical outlets as we wanted among some other bells and whistles.  Code requires a minimum number per so many feet, but any more than that bare requirement came out of our pocket.  In retrospect we probably should’ve added a few more.  We did spend some effort trying to figure out where the TVs would be located, so we could put the cable jacks in the right place, but we never thought twice about the outlets (priorities, priorities).  So, I’m going to install an electrical outlet in the garage for my workbench and it’ll be the third outlet I’ve added since we moved in.  The first was for our buffet lights and the most recent was for our sitting room TV.

As with all of my electrical posts, I’m not going to show you how I actually wire the outlet.  That part is pretty straight forward and there are tons and tons of videos and websites that show that info.  The world doesn’t need another post on how to wire a receptacle.  However, I will show you the whole process I follow from start to finish.

Let’s start with the location where I’m adding this outlet: under the workbench.

workbench outlet

My goal here is to have an outlet right under the workbench where I can plug in a power strip. Then I’ll be able to keep my battery chargers right on top and not on the floor.  You may notice the hole that’s been spackled next to my compressed air pipe.  That hole was my first attempt at getting the air pipe through the wall.  That plugged hole on the garage side doesn’t do me any good for this new outlet, but the hole on the basement side does help.  I’ll be able to use it to run the cable into the garage.

wire through stud

So, I know where the outlet is going to be located, that’s my first step.  Now to determine where to get the power from and how to run the cable from the power source over to the hole.

I have one GFCI outlet on the other side of my basement.  It’s got one cable coming in with the power and two others going out to other receptacles.  I can tap into the power here.

gfci outlet

Since I’m installing this outlet in a garage, the outlet will need to be ground fault protected.  There are essentially two ways to get that protection.  I can tap into the power going TO this GFCI outlet and install a full-blown GFCI outlet just like it in the garage.  OR I can tap into the power on the load side of this GFCI outlet.  GFCI outlets, the new ones anyway, have a line side and a load side.  The line side is where the power from the breaker box goes.  The load side is where additional outlets can tap into.  Those outlets that tap into the load side are then ground fault protected automatically and a regular non-GFCI receptacle can be used instead.  Our kitchen backsplash has a similar setup.  We have one GFCI outlet in the corner and the next two or three outlets are the regular kind, but they all have ground fault protection from the first GFCI outlet.  I’ll probably opt to tap into the load side and use a regular style outlet for the garage.

Right above the outlet is a cable stacker.  Code requires the cable to be secured every so many feet either with staples or with these stackers.  These stackers have open spaces in them so I can just run the new cable through it.

romex cable holder

Since all the cables going into and out of the GFCI outlet  are white 14 gauge cables, I’ll use one as well.  You can buy spools of Romex NM cable from your local hardware store.  It’s not terribly expensive.

So I’ll start the cable run by turning off the power to the GFCI circuit, leaving a couple feet of slack near that outlet and running the cable through existing cable stackers until I get to the basement ceiling and then across the basement towards the hole.  At one point I encounter an area without any cable stackers and I need to use electrical staples instead to hold the wire up.

electrical wire staple

cable stapled

I’ll staple the cable to every other stud along the way.  Once I get near the hole, I’ll stop and let the slack hang out for a while.

wire hanging

Now for some garage work.  I’m using a “old work” style receptacle box, which is designed for remodeling type work like we’re going here.  If the garage didn’t have drywall yet, I’d be using a “new work” box instead.  I hold the box against the drywall and with a pen I trace out the outline of the area I need to cut for the hole.  Be careful here.  This old work box has tabs on the front that stick out from the top and the bottom.  Those tabs need to extend past the hole otherwise the whole outlet box will slip into the hole.

old work outlet

old work outlet 2

With the outline of the opening traced, I use a hand held drywall knife and a box cutter to cut an opening.

outlet hole in wall

Time for a test fit. I make sure the box fits snuggly into the opening.

outlet in wall

Okay.  The box fits nicely.  I remove the box from the hole and return to the basement.

This part can be tricky.  From the basement, I need to push the wire through the hole and try to get it to move up the wall so I can pull it through from the garage by hand.  Since this was a relatively short run, I was able to jam it into the hole and pull it out from the garage without much effort.  Luckily, my hand barely fits into the outlet opening.  Although, for a minute there I was considering making this a double outlet just so I could fit my arm down a bigger opening.

I pulled all of the slack out of the cable into the garage.

cable through hole

Clearly could’ve used a shorter cable for this.  That’s a lot of slack!  No problem though, I cut off the extra cable leaving around 10″-12″ from the hole.

Now let’s prep the old work box.  This box has bendable tabs where the cable gets inserted.  One of the tabs will need to be bent out of the way for the cable to push through.  These tabs don’t come off in old work boxes since they are designed to hold the cable and prevent it from slipping out of the box.

old work box

I push the cable through the tabs and insert the box into the opening.  Old work boxes have screws that when tightened will grab the drywall from the back keeping it firmly in place.

finished outlet

Later this week I’ll strip back the shielding and add some wire nuts for my rough-in inspection.  After I pass the rough-in inspection, I can install the outlet.  Then I’ll have to call the inspector back for a final inspection.

One last thing.  Those holes in the basement lumber need some fire blocking.  Fire blocking is essentially insulation that prevents air from going through those holes to feed a fire.  Very important to add it.

Instead of fiberglass insulation, I’ll use some fire block spray foam.

fireblock foam

The foam just gets squeezed into the space around the wire as it goes through the wood.  I’ll also add some to my compressed air piping.

fire block foam

So this whole process seems a bit long, but all together, it only took me about an hour to finish.  Actually, even with the permit fee, this costs about half of what the builder wanted to install one.

Posted in DIY Projects,Electrical. Tagged in ,,

Finishing Up the Flat Screen TV

Posted by John on February 5th, 2013

So it’s been around a month or so since we started setting up our sitting room. We added a couch and finished hiding the HDMI cable now we’ve just finished up the work on the power cables for our flat screen TV. We really enjoy the space so far. It’s nice to have a place to hang out upstairs without being in bed.

Last time we left off on this project, I had run a power cable to the new outlet location.

hiding flat screen tv cables

Since then, I’ve had my work inspected and was cleared to device out the box. Instead of installing a typical outlet, I added a receptacle designed to accommodate the TV plug.

flat screen tv outlet

The recessed outlet permits the plug end to avoid hitting the back of the TV. Here’s what the wall looks like now..

flat screen tv outlet 2

Once the TV was back on the mount, I used a simple zip tie to keep the long TV power cord up and out of the way.

flat screen tv hiding power

All done.

flat screen tv hiding power

Before I started this little cable hiding project, I thought I could pull it off for around $30 as compared to the Powerbridge install we did at a neighbor’s house for $90.

Here are the rough material costs. I didn’t keep receipts.

-HDMI Cable boxes (the orange ones in the wall) $8
-HDMI Cover plate $14
-Outlet box $4
-Recessed outlet $13

That’s a total of about $39. Close. Now I didn’t include any tools or cable since I already owned them nor did I include the permit cost. The permit for the dining room outlet was only about $20. For some reason, the township charged me $60 for this one. I was expecting to pay $20. So, all told, I spent about as much as the Powerbridge. Oh well. In any case, this dual box approach is a little more flexible for smaller TVs compared to the one larger Powerbridge box.

So now we have to add some furniture. More on that next time 😉

Posted in Electrical,Home Decor. Tagged in ,, ,

Hide a Flat Screen TV Power Cable

Posted by John on January 21st, 2013

Hey everybody!  Hope you all had a great weekend.  Lisa and I had a fairly busy couple days.  We picked a paint for our daughter’s bedroom and I started cutting it in.  We love the color.  I’m not sold on how it looks with the carpet quite yet, but we’ll see how it looks once the room is all setup and staged.

In other news, our permit to add an additional outlet behind our sitting room’s flat screen TV has been approved and I’m ready for our rough-in inspection.  In case you were wondering what the general process is for pulling an electrical permit..

1.  Plan work and come up with a rough estimate for the cost of the material.
2. Apply for electrical permit at local township office.
3. Receive go-ahead from local township or a call back for more info.
4. Do the rough-in work without adding any devices (switches, receptacles, etc)
5. Have rough-in inspected.
6. Device out (add outlet, switches)
7. Have finish work inspected.

We’re at step 4.  Here’s how it went…

Hide a flat screen TV power cable:

Last time we posted, we cut the hole for the outlet behind the TV.

flat screen mount after

To my delight, this interior wall happens to have studs that are 24″ on center (oc).

flat screen mount after

I was able to find the stud locations by tapping on the wall and using a stud finder.  I also popped off the phone jack and peaked into the wall space with a flashlight and a small mirror.  So, since there are no studs between the lower power outlet and the new outlet, I won’t have to remove any additional drywall.  I can simply “snake” the new cables from the lower box to the upper hole.


I remove the bottom outlet and snake the push the wire through the bottom box and up the wall.  The wire I’m using is stiff enough to get pushed fairly easily.

power tv cables

The top hole will receive an electrical box specifically designed for renovation type work or walls that you don’t want to open up.

old work electrical box

The box pushes into the wall and two screws are tightened, which flip tabs up that grab and squeeze the drywall.  Before the box is inserted however, the wire is run through the box.

old work electrical box insta

With the box firmly in the wall and the wire pulled through, the excess slack is cut off, leaving about 6″-7″ of wire hanging out of the box.

The new wire is then spliced into the bottom box’s wiring.  I’m not going to show that part. You can find a how-to on that part on YouTube.

So now we’re all set for the rough-in inspection!  Can’t wait to knock this out so I can get on with the sitting room furniture.

Posted in DIY Projects,Electrical. Tagged in ,, , ,

Wainscoting Painted

Posted by John on August 13th, 2012

I was originally thinking about skipping all the posts on our dining room wainscoting until we were completely finished with it. Staged and all.  However, it may be another week until it’s all buttoned back up, so I think I’ll just get on with it and show everyone where we’re at.

The last couple weeks we’ve been painting.  A lot.  We finally finished painting the wainscoting and this past weekend we finished painting the walls.  We had hoped to avoid repainting all the accessible beige, but the touch ups were pretty visible, so we ended up repainting ALL of it.

One tip I learned from painting the large panels of the wainscoting is definitely worth sharing. I was getting some major streaking or flashing with the semi-gloss on some panels. You can see the brush strokes. For some reason it just wasn’t going on evenly. It was driving me mad.

To remedy this problem, I just used a small roller and applied a nice even coat just to the MDF panels and then used a dry brush to flatten it out. Worked like a charm.

Yesterday, I started adding the outlets. Since they are situated in the MDF panel part of the wall, the boxes need to be extended by 3/4.”

I was able to find outlet extenders at Home Depot. They come in varying sizes (1/4″, 1/2″, etc) and can be screwed right onto the existing boxes.

When installed, it brings the receptacle flush to the wall.

Here’s some shots of the room. We still have to finish up a few more outlets and add the oak quarter rounds to tie the walls to the floors. Then we’ll need to clean up and bring everything back in.

Can’t wait to be done with this already!! Late last week we were in DC for a couple days, which is why we skipped out on posting. We’ll be sharing some of our experiences with that trip later this week.

Do any painting this weekend? What are you looking forward to finishing?

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Electrical. Tagged in ,, , ,

Hiding Flat Screen TV Cables

Posted by John on July 31st, 2012

So on Monday we shared our experience mounting a flat screen TV to a wall. Today, we’re going to show you how to hide the TV’s cables to get a totally sleek look. This is the second TV we’ve done this procedure to at Mike and Dana’s house and this version seemed to work better than the first, which used a slightly different product. In my opinion, this modification isn’t very difficult to do and can probably be done by anyone with a little bit of DIY experience.

We last left off with the TV hanging on the wall to test the bracket out. It had to come down in order to hide the wires. To hide these cables, Mike bought a Powerbridge from Best Buy.  (This current model is no longer available from Amazon, but you can try Option 1 or  Option 2 as they are essentially equivalent).  This device consists of two plastic boxes that get inserted into the wall. One will be located behind the TV and the other will go behind the TV stand. Between the two, the wires will be run in the wall for the power and whatever audio or visual cables are required.powerbridge-1024x682


In order to install these two Powerbridge boxes so you don’t see them, we need to make sure we’re putting it behind the footprint of the TV. Before we took the TV off the wall, we marked the perimeter of the TV with a couple of post-it notes. The boxes will need to stay within that area AND since the Powerbridge box is fairly large, it will need to sit roughly in the middle of the area between two wall studs.flat-screen-TV-mount-1024x682


We used those magnetic wall stud locators we discussed in our last post and then marked our wall with the wall template that was provided with the Powerbridge. We needed to mark the wall for both the top box and the bottom. The bottom was pretty much directly below the top box and low enough to be out of view behind the TV stand.powerbridge-template-1024x682


With the templates marked, Mike used a drywall saw to cut the openings for the boxes. You need to be careful whenever cutting into a wall so you don’t actually cut into a gas line or a power cable.drywall-saw-1024x682



After the holes were cut, Mike inserted the top Powerbridge cable and fished it through the wall. This was apparently an exciting moment for him. The boxes stay in place by pop out wings that are tightened with screws. Very simple. Before we connected the bottom box, Mike pulled through a couple HDMI cables.fishing-cable-e1343788365105-836x1024


The power cable that comes with the Powerbridge is connected with a unique click together fastener.  We actually needed to fix it before we made that connection as one of the wires was visibly detached, but that wasn’t very hard.  After you snap the connector together, the cable slack gets stuffed into the wall and the bottom plate gets tightened to the drywall.


The photo above shows it all completed. The Powerbridge comes with an additional cable to plug into a nearby outlet that gets run to the bottom box.Flatscreen-TV-mounted-1024x682


All told, it took a little over an hour to get this project done. Mike and Dana really like the new look and Lisa and I are considering it for our family room at some point.

Any upgrades coming to your TV? Cut any holes in your walls lately?

***Full disclosure:  Lisa and I are members of Amazon.com associates.  If you purchase a Powerbridge, we get a small kickback.  If you’re interested in joining Amazon Associates, go to Affiliate-Program.Amazon.com ***

Posted in Drywall,Electrical,Home Decor. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Ceiling Fan Installation

Posted by John on June 22nd, 2012

We hope everyone is managing to stay cool during this little East Coast heat wave we’ve been having.  It was supposed to go up to 100 F yesterday!  I love the summer, but I’d rather be a little cool, than a little hot, ya know.  We have a blow-up pool we’ll be setting up for the baby, which I’m really looking forward to.

With this hot weather in mind, Lisa finally was able to talk me into installing a couple ceiling fans in our spare bedroom and the baby’s playroom.  The playroom isn’t quite where Lisa wants it yet, so a post on that room will be forthcoming, but not quite yet.  However, we can show you our guest room.

The bed is a queen sized MALM from Ikea.  I bought it for myself right after college.  It was a huge improvement after sleeping on a twin sized mattress on the floor of my fraternity house! After we got married, we kept this bed for a couple years, until we moved into our current house and bought a new one.  That’s also our bedspread we had when we first got married.  Actually the whole set it the from when we were first married.  I only had the bed, then we picked up the other two pieces.  I don’t believe they are from the same set, but, it’s white lacquer from Ikea, so it’s close.

I believe the dressers are from the same set, although I couldn’t name it off the top of my head.  Since they are only a few years old, they’ve held up fairly well.  You can probably tell that when we don’t have company over, this room is sort of a catch all.  We’re working on that a little at a time though.  That large carpet roll in the corner is the other half of the wall to wall carpet we had made into an area rug.  We haven’t decided on a paint color yet and since we haven’t even painted the master bedroom, the master bathroom, the powder room, etc… we aren’t planning on painting the guest room anytime soon!

The ceiling fan we’re installing is a Bellevue made by Harbor Breeze.  It’s a very simple five blade, white ceiling fan.  It’s the same fan that’s in the nursery.  We like it because it’s simple… it doesn’t require a lot of thinking or coordinating, it just works well with the rooms.

Installing these fans is a real breeze… (ba da ching).  Terrible pun, I know.  Sorry.  Actually, what makes this a lot easier, is when we built our house, we opted to put in a lighting box in each bedroom ceiling.  We had to pay a little extra for that option, but it means that we won’t have to fish wire through the ceiling or any of that nonsense.  If you’ve ever done that, you know it’s a PIA.  A little planning on our part saved us me a ton of time.

To install this fan, I used a basic set of tools that most homeowners should own (if you don’t own them yet, plan on getting them, trust me).  They are, from left to right: a pair of wire strippers, wire cutters, needle nose pliers, a current detector, electrical tape, a flat head and a phillip’s head screw driver.

I’m going to refer you to the directions included in the fan box for specifics on how to install a ceiling fan as I’m avoiding specific electrical instructions.  For ceiling fans, the gist of it is the number of conductors.  Ideally, you should have a black, a red, a white and a bare copper ground wire in your ceiling box.  If you don’t have the red wire, you’re probably going to have to relinquish control of the fan/lighting to the pull cords on the fan itself as you’ll only have use of one wall switch at that point.  If you have the additional red wire, then you can have  two wall switches; one for the fan and one for the light.

The body of the fan can be pretty awkward to hold up in the air while you try to wire it together.  For the guest room, I had Lisa hold it up, while I made the connections.  For the second fan, I just used some zip ties to hold the fan up.  It made it much, much easier.

The only part of this installation I truly hate is fastening the light to the ceiling.  The holes tend to not line up well for some reason.

It’s definitely worth any aggravation though!  This ceiling fan installation really helps keep the air moving upstairs even with central air conditioning.

So how are you beating the heat? 

Posted in Electrical,Home Decor,House Tour. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Adding a New Outlet

Posted by John on May 2nd, 2012

I enjoy doing electrical work.  It’s usually fairly straight forward and doesn’t involve me getting very dirty.  Usually.  Sometimes I have to cut holes in the wall, like in our dining room.  Since we decided to add some raised panel wainscoting, we’re adding a new outlet behind this buffet.  The lamps we have on there don’t have an outlet close enough so we have to run them out across the wall.  Talk about first world problems.  Oh, the humanity!

In reality, it does make sense to get the cords out of the way with a toddler and a schnauzer occasionally running in here.

What I don’t like doing is showing my readers how to wire something because I don’t want anyone to get hurt.  So, I’m not going to show how to actually wire up the outlet.  I will show you how I put the new receptacle box in and how I ran the new romex cable in the wall.  If you’re looking to get into doing your own electrical work, I recommended a really great book last week here.

I did all of this work with the power to the room off at the circuit breaker.

Here’s the wall with the two original outlet visible.  To begin, I marked out the wall with the stud locations using a stud finder and then with the locations of my vertical wainscoting boards.  I want the new outlet to be somewhere in the raised panel section and not in the middle of an edge or something.  When I did this step, I also found another outlet on the opposite wall needed to be moved since it was too close to one of these edges.

Here’s the basic idea behind adding an outlet.  The picture below shows how the cables are run to each outlet.  The power comes in from the right, hits the first outlet and then carries over to the second outlet.  Sometimes these cables can be run in the wall or they can be dropped into the basement and run down there.   By doing a quick inspection of my basement ceiling, I could tell that the lengths are run down there.  Doesn’t really change much either way.

Here’s how I’m going to add the new outlet.  First, I’m going to add the new hole in the wall where the outlet will go.  After that, I’ll pull the long red cable out of the first outlet and take it over to the new outlet location.  I’ll then add a new cable section between the right side outlet and the new outlet.

To mark off for the new outlet, you can measure the existing outlets to get an idea of how high off the floor they are… or you can do this method… snap a chalk line.  The chalk line gets me some more flexibility.

I use a thumb tack (or a tum tack as they say in NEPA) above one of the outlets.

Then, pull the string tight across the wall to the same location on the other outlet.  Snap it.  Repeat that step for the bottom of the outlet.

You end up with an entire zone across the wall where the outlet can be located.  All you need to do is pick a spot.

The outlet boxes I’m using for this project are “Old Work” since they’re not going into an open wall.  “New Work” boxes are used during new construction.  These old work boxes have flip up tabs that grab the drywall from inside the wall.  Here’s a tip though:  Get the screws started for those tabs and use a cordless driver.  The screws are very difficult to turn and even harder if they’re not started.

I take my outlet box over to the wall, line it up with the chalk lines and mark the sides of the outlet.

The opening can be cut with a drywall knife or a box cutter.  I used both.  Once the hole is cut, we shift to moving the cables.

So, with the new outlet hole in place, it’s just a matter of moving a cable out of an outlet box and running a new one.  I opened up the wall below a couple of the old outlets to get the cable out from a staple.  In my opinion, it’s easier to open the wall than to try and rip the cable out from the staple.

To get the cables into the new outlet, I had to drill a hole in the basement ceiling directly below the new outlet location.  Sounds tricky, but it was easy.  I just found the hole for the existing outlets in the basement, measured over and drilled (the photo below was taken from another outlet move).  See that hole on the right?  That’s where the cables used to run.  Now they run to the hole on the far left.  Again, different outlet, but you get the idea.

Here’s what the new outlet looks like now.

I still have to prep the wires for the electrical inspector.  Oh, and I’ll show you how I spackled some extra holes I put into the wall!

Any electrical work on your horizon?

Posted in DIY Projects,Electrical. Tagged in ,, ,

My Beef with Our Garage Door Opener

Posted by John on November 17th, 2011

After a couple hours in the garage last night rewiring our garage door opener, I can safely say we’ve pretty much wrapped up the major work in there for the season.  Here’s how our checklist looks at this point…

–  Have the garage spackled.
– Epoxy the floor (postponed until APR/MAY)
– Paint the interior garage access door (also moved to warmer months)
Rewire the garage door opener (this week)
– Install garage organizers (soon, probably before Christmas)

As you can see, we’re still planning on putting in some sort of shoe organizer, but we’re still kicking ideas around for that one.

Now for the opener…

When Lisa and I moved into this house last July (2010), one of the first things we did was install a garage door opener.  We bought a Chamberlain Whisper Drive model that installed fairly easily.  Is it whisper quiet?  Well, the opener is, but the actual garage door is noisy enough to make up for it.  Apparently, if you really want a quiet garage door, you need to replace the metal wheels that are attached to the door with plastic ones.  That change is supposed to soften the door’s ride.

No, I didn’t have a problem with the noise.  My big beef with this garage door opener was the wires were too short.  No, not too short that it didn’t install properly, the wires were too short to run in straight neat lines.  I was majorly disappointed last year when I had to run these crappy wires directly across the garage ceiling at angles instead of keeping them in the corners.  Garage doors, generally speaking, have three sets of wires that need to be run when the openers are installed: one for the button or console by the door and two for the trip sensors that detect if something is in the path of the door.  The sensors are safety features designed to protect children, pets, etc.

Since we were painting all the walls, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to rectify this grave injustice!  As part of my paint prep, I removed all the staples holding the wires on to the walls and just let them hang.  I also picked up about 50 ft of white (to match) 18 gauge alarm/thermostat cable from Home Depot and went to work. The idea here would be to run the wires where and how I wanted and then just splice in the new white wires as an extension.

I started with the console by the door, went straight up the wall and just kept tucking the wire into the corner.

Every few feet or so, I’d add another wire clamp.  These are the clamps I used…

Here’s what that run looked like when it was finished.  Hard to see the wire right?  That’s the point!

Kind of an OCD fix, but I’m happy with it.

Anything really minor bug the hell out of you?  Did you goto great lengths to fix it?

Tomorrow we’ll have a post on our new Miter Saw purchase.  I’ll tell you what I look for when I purchase one.

Posted in Electrical,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, ,

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