My house doesn't have lights in the bedrooms, only a switched wall
outlet. It's a ranch-style house, less than 30 years old.
I'd like to put lights in the bedrooms, but fishing wires from the
basement or attic to existing outlet and switch boxes is darn near
impossible. I would prefer not to cut additional holes in the drywall
during this process (other than the one required for the electrical box
on the ceiling).
I have thought of a couple ideas, such as:
1. using magnets to get two fish wires to meet up inside the wall.
2. somehow pry the existing electrical box off the 2x4, and install the
plastic slide-in "old work" boxes. This will allow me to stick my hand
in the wall and grab the fish tape or wire.
I know it's a long shot, but has anyone developed a good method for
It's not running the fish tape inside the stud or joist bay that's the
problem (unless there's blocking), but making the transition from
ceiling to wall requires you to drill through the top plate(s).
There's no other way to do it.
Why is it impossible to fish from the attic?
On 10 Mar 2006 11:04:19 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
My house had a switch for a wall receptacle.
I just put in another switch above that one for a ceiling light.
That way I still have the switch for the outlet, and that's good.
It was no trouble learning -- it took no effort; the learning is
automatic -- that the ceiling light switch is a little higher in
those two rooms than in the kitchen, basement, and halls.
I just fished a wire to a switch. Made a hole just above the switch that
would be covered by the switch cover. Ran the wire in from the top threw the
plate then fished for the wire with a hook made from an old clothes hanger.
Worked for me.
I've done a good bit of this and i've tried pretty much everything..
the biggest issue with needing to make new holes is going to be how the
house is built. Example, my house is built "balloon style" this means
that on the outside walls, tehrea re not cross braces between the
studs. So, i've been able to get from the attic down fairily easily.
the first florr is a little more difficult, but once i"m in the wall i
can go straight up and down. If you have cross-braces, you'll have no
luck without the holes - my ceiling was more difficult on the 1st floor
as it seemed that there was never a straight line and I was always
going accross teh 2nd floor joists, causing me nightmares. I got lucky
on a few as I was replacing SOME wiring, but didn't always have luck.
I don't thinkg magnets will work, and what i've found in the end is
that the time to repair the walls, is less than monkeying aournd with
tapes, etc in some of the more difficult cases. Just my two cents.
Because fish tape is so springy, I found it to be a total pain in the ass to
use. The curve of the tape always seemed to get stuck halfway to wherever it
was going. What worked best was using appropriate lengths of electrical
wire, either the 3-conductor NM, or individual strands taken from same. Both
will retain whatever shape you give them before feeding through holes.
I'm nor sure if you're mentioning the NM 3-wire from your earlier post
or referring to another tool. Which is it?
I've been frustrated by blocking, blockage, and bizarre construction,
but I've never found the fish tape itself to be an insurmountable
obstacle. I know a fair bit about how framing techniques changed over
the years and where to expect problems. I'm usually not walking into a
house cold and trying to run a line, so that's an advantage, too. I've
never really felt that the fish tape was useless.
I pull out a section of the tape and bend it roughly straight to
eliminate the curve it picked up in the reel. Then I bend the tip to
skip over the lath or the "field" of obstructions, or to keep it
pressing up against a smooth surface. If I know that the tape has to
curve in a general direction, I'll give the tape a tweak every so often
as I insert it into the hole.
As a last resort, and since I'm looking at the clock most of the time,
I'll call it quits If I find that I'm spending more time than it's
worth just to keep from cutting a small hole. Usually it's not the
existence of the hole, but where and how big it is that can be the
problem. Behind pictures, couches or inside a closet are natural
places to chop a hole.
I'd like to try one of the fiberglass fish "tapes", the round ones, to
see how much easier they are to use. I ran across a tape that can be
controlled to curve in the direction you want - that'd be a fun to play
with. I'd also love to have a video camera on the end of a tape.
That's the real problem - there are so many tools that I'd like to own,
and so little time and money!
I'm referring to NM wire. Depending on what you're up against, you can
either use the entire bundle, or just a single wire that you've removed from
the bundle. In terms of size, a single strand of 14 is no larger than fish
tape. It's easier to bend into a functional shape, too. The only reason to
own a fish tape is to feel all official and handy & shit.
Sometimes a piece of #4 copper ground wire can be bent and pushed where you
need to snag a chain, wire, string, etc. to feed the wire. I found it to be
particularly helpful in reaching across ceiling joists under low eaves and
also in low crawl spaces. You can also feed it in any direction inside wall
cavities and make it enter small openings such as drill holes, box openings,
or narrow gaps in the framing.
It should be pointed out that fishing walls is NOT always successful.
Occasionally, one must give up and repair the wall.
Also, fishing an INSULATED wall is usually very damaging to the insulation,
whether the fish was successful or not.
I have done SHORT fishes of insulated walls. The customer got the phone jack
where they wanted it and, since I am very careful, they never see the wads of
fiberglass insulation that I extracted in the process.
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