Snake wire from wall to ceiling

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What has been working pretty well so far is a tile-cutting roto-zip blade in by Ryobi (yeah I know low end) cordless zip tool.
Other drywall & wood bits got burned up in no time just in the plaster alone even before reaching the metal lathe, but the "diamond" blade is made for tile, cementous board, and plaster so it cuts really well.
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*If you can spare the time how about taking some photos of the job as you go along and post them when you are finished. It's not too often that we get to see a 150 year old house.
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Sorry - I ended up finishing before I read your post. I will post a full account though. Actually the part of the house I was working on is reportedly from the late 1700's so actually more than 200 years old though there are no good records going back that far in our town.
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After reading all the other replies use wire mould. You could have it done in a little more time than reading these replies. WW
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WW wrote: ...

First suggestion...rejected.
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Yes but it's a 150 year old Italianate house and wire-mold just seems to be wrong. Call me a stickler or anal but I'm willing to put in the time and pain to do it "right."
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blueman wrote:

I wasn't criticizing you; just squashing the other guy...
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blueman wrote:

Lower-impact alternate solution- Remove the current sconce that is causing the problems. Go up in same stud bay to about 18" from ceiling, and install a focused spot like they use in museums, to paint the center of the ceiling with light. Find a style-appropriate spotlight at a specialty lighting dealer, or use a modern light shielded from direct view by the shell of the old sconce, installed below it. (making the rash assumption the style of the existing sconce could be adapted for that) They have some rather tiny halogen aimable spot cans now that put out an amazing amount of light.
Hey, just an idea. Hard to say without seeing the garage and the existing light.
-- aem sends...
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This seems like a reasonable, easy, solution, and the old sconce fixture can be replaced by a unit that does not stick out as far on the wall so it doesn't get hit as often.
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wrote:

What kind of floor is above???? Generally easier to pull/patch a few floor boards than a plaster cieling.

Again a whole lot easier lifting a floor board. Then drill DOWN through the top plate and across through the joists.

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Here is my report back on what I did and how I did it.
I ended up going the direct route of snaking across the ceiling and down the wall. Again, my primary priority was doing this in a lasting and professional way since I feel an obligation to the generations of previous owners of our historic house (main part is Italianate built in the 1860's and the garage is part of a wing that reportedly dates back to the late 1700's!!!).
First, cutting through the ceiling was even harder than anticipated -- even to just cut out the hole for the ceiling box and the intermediate holes for snaking the wires. There were multiple layers. Starting from the exterior:
1. Rough 1/2" layer of hard plaster/stucco 2. Tough metal lathe. Actually the lathe on the ceiling was mostly solid metal with some grooves. The lathe on the sides was thick fine mesh. 3. Another 1/2 layer of plaster keyed into wooden lathe 4. 1/2" wooden lathe 5. Loose fill insulation (not sure what it is but it was very light, gray in color and almost like very light sawdust or cotton whisps)
I needed to use a diamond cutter in my rotary zip saw to cut through the stuff and it made a real mess -- unfortunately, I didn't have a helper to hold a shop vac...
Also the joists were irregularly spaced and more like 4x lumber. There was also a fireblock-like horizontal element in the stud bay. Luckily by removing the wooden lathe (which itself often had a gap between it and the underlying structural member), I was able to find plenty of room to snake my pull string without having to drill through (or notch) the structural elements. I added metal plates over any place that I passed over a structural element.
I didn't end up needing to notch the corner since there was plenty of room to bury the cable below the structural lumber due to all the layers. I again added protective metal plates.
To prevent the loose fill insulation from continuing to leak out from the ceiling holes on me and the floor, I stuffed in some loose fiberglass insulation (pulled off some extra bats). This served both to replace some of the stuff that fell out and also served as a block against new loose fill floating out which otherwise continued to fall on me and the floor.
Even after creating the path, pulling the wire through was still very difficult despite the fact that the path was only 10 feet long and had only one corner (at the floor-ceiling junction). This was presumably due to the irregular nature of the space and protruding nails, plaster, etc. along the pull path.
I filled in the holes in two steps. First a layer of 20minute setting compound directly over the lathe or metal plates (I find the setting compound to be very hard and durable). Then a skim coat of a concoction that I made to mimic the existing surface created out of combining about 1-part ready mix stucco patch compound with 1-part setting joint compound plus water and some Zinser primer (to match the color since the walls/ceilings seem to be more whitewashed than painted).
Rewiring the switch box was also a PITA since it was part of a 4-gang bakelite plastic box embedded in the tiled kitchen backsplash (which is on the other side of the garage wall). To feed in the new wire, I ended up needing to literally bust out the old embedded bakelite box and replaced it with a 4-gang 3-1/2" deep metal box -- I wanted the extra room since 2 of the 4 switches were three way (including the gargage light one) and 2 of the switches were big elements (1 Lutron dimmer and 1 Aube timer) -- there were a total of 8 wires passing in and out of the box (all same circuit though).
While doing it my way took a LOT longer than some of the other suggestions, I accomplished the following: 1. No unsightly external boxes or track mold 2. Minimum patching (just a couple of small holes) 3. Minimal mess from demolition and from leaking loose fill insulation (had I ripped out a large swathe, I would be drowning in fallen insulation and plaster --- and I would have needed to find a way to replace insulation in the entire joist bay) 4. Minimized amount of cutting through solid metal lathe 5. No disturbing of structural elements. 6. No intrusion or damage to other adjoining finished rooms.
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re: "...had only one corner (at the floor-ceiling junction)."
The floor-ceiling junction?
They must have used some pretty short walls back in 1860's!
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Doh... wall-ceiling....
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blueman wrote: ...

And, as suggested, you found a _far_ different set of conditions than anybody here could have any hope of knowing any about and so the reason for many of the suggestions were obviated.
That's not intended at all at criticism; only observation that advice is only as good as the input and _if_ the condition had indeed been that of solid plaster against the joists your solution options would have been pretty much as suggested.
Sounds like kewl place; I've noted here before that did quite a number of major restorations of antebellum houses in Lynchburg, VA, years ago that had all kinds of similar surprises buried in them. Par for the course...
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ungrateful for the many and varied suggestions offered by you and others. As you can probably tell, when it comes to working on my home, I tend to be more on the perfectionist side of things -- I know that such an approach would never be profitable as a business but it does usually let me get the results I want even if the effort is sometimes over the top. In fact, that is one of the reasons I DIY rather than hire even though it costs me more in time than I would have to pay someone else -- but at least I get the quality and approach I want (along with self-satisfaction) which is something that money often can't buy anymore.

Thanks - sounds like you have had the same mixture of fun and frustrations that I have had. But I wouldn't trade my old house for any post-1920's or so house -- though perhaps I would be tempted by a new megamansion (at least until the newness wears off).
One great advantage of vintage houses vs. new ones is that my house only gets better and more valuable with age whereas even the latest and greatest megamansion starts looking "dated" after a decade or so since it's key selling point are modernity, latest-and-greatest, and up-to-date styling -- none of which by definition are lasting attributes. It's like a slower version of the problem that a new car loses value the second you drive it out of the lot whereas an antique car increases in value with proper upkeep.
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The definition of CONTEMPORARY?
A temporary con.
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Well said, and entirely understandable and laudable.

Unless the new house is in some wacky area and there was a wacky buyer who overpaid, or unless the entire market is taking a downturn, new houses and old houses go up in value at roughly the same rate. Otherwise, an old house would be way more expensive than a new house - and they're not.
R
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On Fri, 16 Oct 2009 13:49:31 -0700 (PDT), RicodJour

Many 100 year old houses are worth a lot more than a lot of equivalent sized 30 year old houses - but location has a lot to do with it too. The old houses on "snob hill" will always bring a higher price than most suburban homes - and quite often more than new "infill" houses in the same neighbourhood.
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On Oct 16, 10:32pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Agreed, but it is not an ever increasing function in value. The belief that an old house just gets "better" with age is nothing more than a belief. The frame doesn't get stronger, the roof tighter, etc. Everything ages and nothing lasts forever.
R
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On Fri, 16 Oct 2009 20:14:43 -0700 (PDT), RicodJour

in the eys of some who have the money to not worry about costs.
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