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View Full Version : Fishing wire in a finished room...



Art Mulder
10-10-2006, 9:52 PM
Hi Folks,

My wife and I like brightly lit rooms. Whoever built our house, evidently did not. Over the 8 years we've had our house we've replaced or added light fixtures in several rooms. The family room on the main floor is now at the top of the list.

I've attached a basic floor plan of the room. There are rooms above it, so we don't have the "luxury" of an open attic in which to do rewiring. Right now there is just one light fixture, in front of the fireplace, and NOT centered in the room. Even so, at over 11x16, one lonely light in the middle of the room isn't much good. I should add that we use this room as our homeschooling room, so tables and shelves are what we have, not sofas and end tables.

I've thought about track lighting, but in order to properly light the room, I think we'll end up with 8-12' of track on the ceiling, which seems unsightly. I've thought of adding wall sconces, since I can feed up wires from the (unfinished) basement. However two of the walls are outdoor walls, and fishing through an insulated wall is not easy. (is it even reasonably possible?) I could do wall sconces with cords, but again, I'd prefer to have something built in, for the best looks.

So right now we're toying with replacing the single ceiling fixture with two. They are indicated in yellow on the diagram. The ceiling joists run across the short width (the 11' wall) of the room. Can anyone tell me how I could do this with the least amount of fuss, muss, and damage to the walls? Oh yeah, it is a popcorn ceiling.

thanks,
...art

Dave Richards
10-10-2006, 10:20 PM
Oh boy Art. That's a challenge. I'd think the best thing to do is work from the existing ceiling box. I'd guess there's more than one joist between the existing box and the new boxes which increases the challenge because you'll need to drill holes for the wires through the joists.

I would think if you can get the holes drilled, you could run a snare from the new box locations to the center line of the room and then run a something from the existing box to the snare.

I'd consider fishing individual stranded conductors if your local code allows. They'll make the corners through the holes in the joists more easily.

How about swag lights with chains coming off the center box? You could put in some orange and green shag carpet and a beaded curtain in the doorway to make it all go. :D

You don't really like that ceiling do you? In reality you might find it easier to re sheetrock the ceiling.

Or what are the floors upstairs? Wood? Could you cut some of the floor boards out with one of the Fein saw like things? That would give you access to the wiring. You could remove only a feww boards to give you the needed access.

Art Mulder
10-10-2006, 10:49 PM
I'd consider fishing individual stranded conductors if your local code allows.

Not an electrician, but have read the amateur manuals and I seriously doubt that this would be allowed under Ontario code.



How about swag lights with chains coming off the center box? You could put in some orange and green shag carpet and a beaded curtain in the doorway to make it all go.
well I think one trip through the 70's was quite enough!



You don't really like that ceiling do you? In reality you might find it easier to re sheetrock the ceiling.

Or what are the floors upstairs? Wood? Could you cut some of the floor boards out with one of the Fein saw like things? That would give you access to the wiring. You could remove only a few boards to give you the needed access.

Two bedrooms with hardwood floors. So NOT going to happen.

Sheetrock the ceiling!? Look, you can try suggesting that one to my wife. I'll go hide in the closet... :cool:

Ben Grunow
10-10-2006, 10:52 PM
Het Art- Ive snake a few wires here and there and it is never fun.

You can do what you are proposing and it should not be too bad provided you are OK with leaving a blank coverplate where the old light fixture is. You might luck out and be able to eliminate it but if you plan on leaving it then ther will be no disappointment.

First you need two old work recessed lights or two of the old boxes designed for surface lights (electrical supply house- they have a bar with sharp teeth that you put up through the hole in the drywall and rotate causing it to extend and diginto the joists) depending on what you want to use-surface lights offer much more light for a classroom environment IMHO.

Then there is a long (up to 6') flexible drill bit called a Diversabit that is designed for just this application. A good supply house will have them. To use this bit you chuck it up in a right angle drill and insert it through the hole you have cut in the drywall for the new light or box. Holding it as parallel with the ceiling as you can you drill a hole, in the direction of the old light fixture, through the first joist (any other wires or pipes up there?). THen using the first hole to bend the flexy shaft of the bit against, you feel your way around on the next joist and try to get in the middle of the joist (about the middle of the height of the joist if possible) and when some what confident, drill. A right angle drill is really a must here since it is the handle on the bit that allows you to bend the bit and control it.

You should only have to drill 2 joists to go from old light to new lights (2 on each side) but maybe 3 if youre unlucky. After 2 joists the you have less control so thats why it is important to try for the center of the joist on the second hole. THis sounds complicated but when that bit is in your hand you will be able to feel where it is in the bay very easily and remember- the key to using this bit is to use the hole you just drilled to bend the bit along the path youre after.

The bit has a hole on the end for attaching wires to and pulling them back through the holes you just drilled.

All that being said- maybe, if this sounds totally nuts to you, it would be easier to just cut some drywall and run the wires and eliminate the old light and make it a school lesson on construction and wiring.

I learned how to do this type of work from a very good electrician and I have been working with him since I was a kid so maybe Im oversimplifying. Maybe a trip to the store to see/feel a Diversabit would help you understand how they work.

Let me know if I can help or confuse you any more.

Joe Pelonio
10-11-2006, 8:58 AM
Just a few weeks ago I decided to move the ceiling fixture over the kitchen eating area 5' . It was too close to the french doors to the patio.
What I did was cut the hole for the new box, then with holes on each end was able to use an 18" drill bit to put holes in the joists. They were at angles though, and it took me a good 10-15 minutes to get the romex to go in one joist and out the other. Then in the original light area I installed a metal junction box with cover recessed a few inches so that I was able to patch the hole.

It seems that if you are putting in recessed lighting you could do what I did but just keep going adding more until you have enough.

Otherwise there's no need to redo the drywall, scrape off the popcorn ceiling as we're doing thoughout the house, (non-asbestos) put in the lights, patch, and then for $30 they have a gun that sprays texture that's messy but does a nice job. I have two of them, lost one then it turned up after I got the other.

skip coyne
10-11-2006, 10:00 AM
heres a link to a video on using the long bits Ben mentioned , BTW home depot has them

http://www.taunton.com/finehomebuilding/pages/hvt057.asp

Matt Meiser
10-11-2006, 10:16 AM
What about using some kind of track lighting system? Or floor lamps that reflect off the ceiling. Our living room which I think is bigger than yours and has a cathedral ceiling has no overhead lighting. We use two floor lamps with big bulbs (150W 3-ways I think) which reflect off the ceiling to make the room nice and bright--plenty bright for reading.

Kent Fitzgerald
10-11-2006, 10:22 AM
Then in the original light area I installed a metal junction box with cover recessed a few inches so that I was able to patch the hole.
Joe, if you mean that you plastered over a junction box, that's a violation of the NEC and almost certainly any local codes. :(

Joe Pelonio
10-11-2006, 10:42 AM
It's half way up the joist, not plastered over but just covered the hole in the drywall left from the old fixture. I know that junction boxes should remain accessible but in this case I felt this solution was safer than slicing the romex and there was no way to get back to the switch with a new longer cable. It's accesible to me, since I know where it is and the way I did it the drywall "plug" will pop right back out easily. I'm planning to redo it properly when we remodel the kitchen in a the next year or two.

Art Mulder
10-11-2006, 11:16 AM
What about using some kind of track lighting system? Or floor lamps that reflect off the ceiling. Our living room which I think is bigger than yours and has a cathedral ceiling has no overhead lighting. We use two floor lamps with big bulbs (150W 3-ways I think) which reflect off the ceiling to make the room nice and bright--plenty bright for reading.

Well, we might end up with tracks, since fishing wire seems chancy. Got any suggestions for good lights for tracks? We find that track lights tend to not be diffuse enough. You get lots of small circles of light with the typical spot lights sold for tracks.

What I'd like to put up are two fixtures like these:
48338
We've got one of these in our office, it takes 3 ordinary bulbs, and we put in two Compact Fluorescent (CF) 100w equivalents, and one CF 60w equivalent and it gives great light.

Floor lamps work, but take up space that we'd rather not surrender. I'd sooner put up wall fixtures with cords.

Thanks, Matt and everyone else. If anyone has other good ideas, please keep 'em coming!
...art

Von Bickley
10-11-2006, 4:53 PM
Art,

The only solution I see to adding additional lights would be to add a false beam running down the center of the room. You could easily fish a wire from the existing light and do the new wiring inside the false beam. The beam could be finished natural or boxed in and painted to match the decor.

That's the only way I see without doing sheetrock work...;)

Ben Grunow
10-12-2006, 11:02 PM
THe code requires any junction box to be accessible so that is a violation. I have never done this but we find them all the time.

THere is a splice kit that is approved now for use behind finished (no access required). It uses a copper bug which is just a series of small pipes with allen set screws to hold the wires (various sizes for wire size and various numbers of holes etc.) in place and the whole thing gets wrapped in shrink wrap. Pretty slick and not too expensive when there is just no other way. Dont know the real name for this.

Michael Cody
10-13-2006, 7:31 PM
Hi Folks,

So right now we're toying with replacing the single ceiling fixture with two. They are indicated in yellow on the diagram. The ceiling joists run across the short width (the 11' wall) of the room. Can anyone tell me how I could do this with the least amount of fuss, muss, and damage to the walls? Oh yeah, it is a popcorn ceiling.

thanks,
...art

Hate to say this, not trying to be mean, but this is just toughlove!Quit talking about it or looking for a easy way out! :eek: Just scrape the popcorn, cut a strip of the ceiling drywall, drill the holes, run it right, then fix the ceiling -- re-popcorn and paint. Not hard, a little dusty, should be able to do it in a day or a weekend at most.. you will spend more time screwing around and over analyzing it ... just bite the bullet and do it ... the best solution. You can even use it for an excuse to repaint the whole room if the wife wishes. It will save time, money, frustration, etc.. We all (me included bigitime) sometimes spend more time looking for an easier way than we would have just doing the obvious.