2014-11-19 Electrical Finished

Realized that I don't seem to have any electrical updates here!

The permit BDLG-14-0789 was issued 2014-07-14.

Copied from 3 LumberJocks entries:


When we moved in, I looked at the wiring in the crawlspace, saw the ancient non-metallic sheathed cable downstairs, didn�t get huge warnings from the home inspector, and thought we were all groovy, if a little out-dated.

The house was on a 60 amp fuse box, so we paid someone to put in a few utility circuits in the garage and deal with PG&E to put in a 200 amp breaker panel. He used the old fuse box as a junction box, ran some THHN through some conduit for each of the initial 3 circuits across to the new panel, ran the new receptacles with conduit on the inside of the garage, and life was groovy.

I built my shop, and then one day I was up in the attic for some reason and realized that, buried under that blown-in insulation, all the lighting circuits were knob & tube. Old electricians will tell you that knob & tube is the safest wiring ever, but I�ve never found an insurance adjuster who�ll say that, and every state but California won�t let you blow insulation over it.

A few Christmases ago we opened up light switches, tied strings to the wires, yanked the wires out of the wall and used the strings to feed Romex back up through the wall. And while we were there, put in a new bathroom heat/vent/light combo unit.

We finally got around to pulling the permit to do that work, and to rewire the rest of the house. And in the process of looking at the conduit run across the garage, stuffed with #12 THHN, decided we needed to just run 3 strands of #2 and put a sub panel where the junction box that used to be the fuse box is.

I sent the building department an email saying "hey, what do I need to do with the permit for this subpanel", and they said "nothing, as long as you keep the firewall between the house and the garage intact". So� yeah� the "firewall" is 1/4" drywall over board sheathing. Rip that off, replace with 5/8".

Saturday and Sunday, accompanied by many bloody knuckles, we ran the sub panel. I�ve started drilling cutting holes in the walls for where all the new sockets to bring this house up to code spacing on sockets. We�ve done the research about wired smoke detectors, and think we have the appropriate Kidde products lined up.

The next few weekends will have some time in the crawl space, drilling holes and running wire up to the new boxes. Hopefully that�ll be less painful than I expect, although the areas at the front and back of the house are really tight to get into the wall.


So: Template, made of two pieces of ¾" plywood: One has squares cut out for the two sizes of boxes (1 gang and 2 gang), one holds it the appropriate distance off the floor, and is on the outside so that it goes over baseboards.

Run around the house, measuring to where we think we�ll miss a stud. Draw the appropriate box on the wall. Bash a hole in the middle of it with a big screwdriver. Take the Sawzall™ with the diamond edged masonry blade, carefully cut out a hole (the house is plaster over button board, a lot harder than drywall). Holes all over the house, including a few that�ll need a touch of patching.

And, of course, some of those walls are thinner than the blade, which meant I bent a couple of blades when I banged them into the other side�

For the existing boxes, we actually cut them out of the wall, which left a bigger hole than we�d like, but mostly worked.

For interior holes, we drilled down through the new receptacle holes. Dinged up the wall a bit, but that way we could be sure we were hitting the wall.

For the holes around the exterior walls, I went into the crawlspace with a ¾" auger bit on an extension, measured from the corner of the house, drilled up, pushed wire up, Charlene grabbed it, and we went around the house.

Sunday afternoon we were able to flip the breakers back on and had power to the house. I still need to go under the house, put up 1�4 runner boards for the runs orthogonal to the floor joists (even though it�s in difficult to access space, my read of code is that I have to do all runs of #12 wire on a backer, lest someone try to hang clothes on it).

So, a few things left to do:

  • Wire in the wired smoke & CO detectors, and the warning strobes. Because we're doing so much work, city decided we should bring all the electrical up to modern code, and that includes wired sensors. Even though you still have to replace the batteries in them every year, and even though you should replace them every 10 years, and even though there are modern detectors with 10 year batteries. Go figure.
  • Flip kitchen and bath sockets. I went with ground pin up, for all the ground pin up reasons, but we decided that the tide is too big to hold back and so went ground pin down on these new ones. We should be consistent.
    • Double check the lighting stuff we already did, and amend the permit for all the places we did other things (ie: we ran two extra lights, we probably need to put motion and light sensors on one set of exterior lights).
  • Staple the stuff in the crawlspace (obviously).
    • Cover up the access hole we cut for the runs from the new panel to the crawlspace.


    Got the final inspection today! Woot!

    Not a whole lot to add to the previous update, but got the final inspection on the electrical today. Finally.

    And having sufficient sockets is amazing. The power strip quotient in the house has gone way way down. New LED lights in various places, with dimmers that work for them. It�s all pretty darned amazing.


    • Really, once we got the procedure down, running new sockets was pretty easy. A long extension on a hex drive augur bit made drilling up through the sills or, if I angled the drill just right, down from the top, easy.
  • More sockets better. 4 gangs where you think you need more.
    • The status LEDs on the wired smoke detectors are really bright. I cut little circles of electrical tape to go over them, which helps.
  • Crawl space work still sucks.
  • Category: Dan Lyke life Category: 10 Mission