Tips for Snaking Wires
I have to rewire an old home
that has well-maintained plaster walls throughout. I'd like to
do this without gutting the interior. Any tips for
When rewiring an old house, I'll
wire the first floor by working up from the cellar
(Illustration A), then run a few feeds up to the attic and wire
the second floor by working down from there, using drill bit
extenders, fish tapes, and a tone generator as needed. It's
usually easy to find interior wall top plates in the attic just
by moving aside the insulation (Illustration B). By drilling at
an angle from inside rooms, you can usually get through top and
bottom plates and into stud cavities (Illustrations C & D).
When I have to run wires horizontally through studs, I'll try
to minimize repair work by creating just one hole at the front
edge of each stud (Illustration E).
While doing the job, try to coordinate with other crews working
in the house at the same time. If, for instance, the plumber
has to open a wall anyway, you may as well run your wires
before it's closed up again.
Illustration A. When an old sill is deeper
than the wall, use a bit extender and drill at a shallow
Illustration B. Finding partition walls
from the attic is usually easy - just lift the insulation and
look for the top plates.
Illustration C. By removing the shoe
molding at the edge of a carpeted room, you can drill an
inconspicuous hole through the floor.
Illustration D. After drilling one hole to
find the bottom edge of the top plate, you can drill at an
angle that will pop the bit through the center of the wall in
the attic.Illustration E. To run a wire across a
stud or joist, drill three times, using the same entry hole:
one straight in and one each at a tight angle into each