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Electrical Work VIII: Wall Fishing

February 19, 2010

~February 3, 2010~

Several of the junction boxes that I planned to put in my conduit system in the basement were going to be used to feed electricity up to the first floor.  Most of these would be going to locations that are fed from the basement in the current wiring scheme, so I could tell exactly where they would need to be.  A couple of them, however, had no existing electrical service coming directly from the basement.  So, in order to be able to install those junction boxes at the proper locations, I was going to have to first fish the wire from the main floor.

The first location was for the light in the dining room.  It is currently served by knob-and-tube wiring that runs through the ceiling joists to who-knows-where.  So, I took down the ceiling fan and removed its electrical box so I could put the fishing tape through that hole.  I managed to fish it what seemed like a good distance over toward the wall with no problem.   But I couldn’t tell for sure if I’d made it that far, and if I had there was no way I was going to get it to turn the corner and go down the wall from the light fixture’s hole.  So, I cut a new hole in the ceiling near the wall.  And found the fishing tape.  Yay!  From my new hole I was able to start the fishing tape down the wall, towards the basement.  I got it what felt, seemed and sounded like about halfway there when it got stuck.  I couldn’t push it further,  I couldn’t pull it back and I couldn’t jiggle it loose.  So, I cut a hole in the wall, about where I thought it was stuck, and took a look around with my dentist’s mirror and bendy light.

Be vewy, vewy quiet! We wooking for wall fish.

I found my tape, but still couldn’t get it unstuck.

Didn't we just get done patching and painting these walls and the ceiling?

So, I cut that hole further towards the floor.  And tried again.  And cut it further.  Eventually I did get the fish tape unstuck.  (I think, though I’m not sure, that it was stuck on the bottom of the framing for the window.)  So, I fished it on down towards the basement.  And banged into something that seemed pretty solid.  I went down to the basement and looked up into the corner, fully expecting to find the fish tape lodged there.  Unfortunately, no, I did not.

So I spent some time drilling cutting and chiseling a larger hole in the corner of the basement ceiling, and tried to look around in there with my mirror and bendy light.  But the angles were all wrong, and I couldn’t see anything.  So, I went back up to the main floor and jiggled the tape around a bit and went back to the basement.  Still no fish tape.  So, then I decided to yank all the fish tape out of the ceiling and the wall, and try starting in the basement.  So, I shoved the fish tape up the new larger hole in the basement and kept running into something solid after only a few feet.  So I went back to the main floor and cut yet another hole in the wall near the floor.  And there I discovered that the window framing has a stud going straight down from the edge of it to the floor, and my hole in the basement was on the wrong side of that.

So, back to the basement I went to drill, cut and chisel another hole in the ceiling.  That accomplished, I fished the wire up through it, and it went up quite a ways.  So I went excitedly back up to the first floor, and actually found it up there!

Yay! It might work this way.

So, I fished it up to the hole at the corner of the ceiling and from there on to the light fixture hole with no problems.  I hooked it up to the wire…

Wire hooked to the fishing tape and ready to go through the walls.

…and started fishing it through the ceiling and walls, from one of my little (and not so little) holes to the next.

Wire being fished into the ceiling and down the wall.

Finally I went into the basement and pulled the wire clear out…

Fished successfully to the basement!

…with no problems besides having to pull pretty hard until I unhooked the fishing tape and found that its tip was nearly broken off.

It's not supposed to do this.

Which, of course meant another trip to Lowe’s.  But they let me return it with no problems, and I am now the proud owner of a steel (but unlike this one, conductive) fishing tape.

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