It can be a real PITA. The one trick I have found to be helpful is to pull
off the baseboard molding, cut a hole in the drywall, and then drill a pilot
hole down through the floor. Then drill a larger hole up from the basement.
Then cut out for your electrical box. Assuming there are no stops in the
wall cavity, it is then a simple matter to run the wire.
Replacing the molding covers the hole.
The one time I ran from the attic was much more difficult.\\
If you have an unused wire port in your outlet box, then this might work.
You need two fish lines, they have a hook on the end. Pull about 3 feet out
of the wire holder on each.
Insert one through the outlet hole pointing up, and the other in from the
hole in the top plate. Once both wires are inserted, twist slowly and the
two ends will meet, and then pull in one direction. The fish wire should
come out the other end.
Maybe you might get lucky.
That sounds ok but I'd use a magnet on a string lowered from above and a
magnet on a wire from below. Measure and mark string so you know it's not
gone below the switch box. Aim to have the magnet say 6" above it.
Dear Account For Junk -
I would suggest you remove the existing switch box (i.e. Your option #2
above). This will provide you access to the wall cavity.
Cut in the new ceiling box. This will allow you access to the ceiling space.
Since ceiling boxes are 4 inch boxes, you will have more than sufficient
space to get your hand in the ceiling space.
Use your fish wire to fish UP from the switch box. Use another fish wire, a
coat hanger or a piece of solid wire to 'catch' the fish wire and pull it
out the ceiling box opening. Attach your new wired to the fish tape and
pull. Slowly and carefully. It is a real pain to yank the wire off the end
of the fish after all the work to get the fish there the first time.
Magnets of any size you are likely to have access to are not going to
anywhere near powerful enough to do what you want within the space
limitations you have.
If you have to drill holes in studs, sil plates, joists or whatever get
yourself an auger bit on a flexible shaft (I have seen them up to six feet
This type of work is done all the time and at most should only require minor
patching of drywall at the switch box and/or ceiling outlet. However, as
pointed out by other posters, a little drywall patching is sometimes way
more cost/time effective than spending half a day getting one wire to the
Hopefully you have no blocking between the studs. Probably don't.
You are trying to fish through an inside wall with no insulation
I've taken a 4ft level and put it above the center of the box inside to
the ceiling. Where the ceiling meets the wall directly above (or a couple
of inches away make like a 1/16 hole in the ceiling. Push a coat hanger
through so you can see it from the attic.
Go up in the attic and drill hole through plates. Drop string down with
screw/washer/something. Unless if gets misdirected by hitting wires or
something it has to be lined up with the box when it comes down.
I usually just hook it with something when I see the string but that
magnet idea I might try next time.
Just put a dab of painters caulk in the 1/16" hole. No one will even see
it. If it's popcorn/textured ceiling, you won't even find it.
One low-voltage wire installer I saw used the thin beaded chain dropped from
the top & magnets attached to a fish or stick at bottom access hole to catch
chain when fishing down long open vertical cavities, then pulled string from
them, then the wire. He also had the sectional fibreglass rods describe
earlier, however they were much thinner than many sold in big box stores &
electrical supplies; he got them from an alarm equipment supplier. They
were about 8 or 10' long I think, the thicker one (still thinner than the
ones I've seen in H Depot) was about $20 (in 2001), & the thin one about
$45. Either could be bent in a fairly tight radius (12" for the one I saw
him use) for feeding from tight spaces such as from within a closet, & would
slide easily between v barrier & backside of drywall through insulated walls
without destroying insulation as previous poster noted with regular fish
tape & hook.
Most of the posts are on fishing, so I'll leave all that good advice in
place. I will place a strong "Yes" vote for Option 2, prying off the old
box and putting in an "old work" box. I have done it a number of times,
mostly for the reason you state, being able to get your hands in the cavity.
Old work boxes work exactly as advertised, with one caveat. Your switch
plate over the box has to be large enough to cover the tabs of the old work
box on the outside (room-side) of the box. many of the switch plates are
small, and a little bit of the blue tab still sticks out. Another issue is
that the tabs stick out about 1/8" from the drywall, so the switch plates
that to me have worked best are those slightly larger metal plates that have
a roundover on the ends. Those cover both the tab length and thickness.
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