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Help Getting Wires Inside Brick Pier


tony17112acst's Avatar
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PA

12-11-17, 04:25 PM   #1  
Help Getting Wires Inside Brick Pier

Is there an easy AND inexpensive way to get new wires into this pier (see photos)?

* The existing wire has a fault in it and I need to run a new one;
* I will be using low voltage 12V DC instead of 120V AC;
* I am OK drilling a hole in the base at ground level;
* There is a pipe around the original wire, but it's 1" below the top brick;
* These 2 pillars were built in 1976.

I just don't know what's inside:
(1) Are the piers hollow with brick on the exterior?
(2) Is there block on the inside?
(3) Since there's an actual pipe (conduit) containing the wire, does that mean it's not hollow?
(4) Since there is brick on the top, does that mean it's NOT hollow?

I do have a 3/4" masonry drill bit that's about 12" long, but I don't want to buy expensive bits for a one-time deal (if possible). I drilled down from the top between two bricks and all I got was wet mortar.

Thanks for your input!!
-Tony




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XSleeper's Avatar
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12-11-17, 05:24 PM   #2  
You need to figure out where the other end of the wire is, disconnect it, tie your new line onto the old, then use the old wire as a pull wire to pull the new wire through the conduit. If you can't do that, then you are pretty much out of luck.

 
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12-11-17, 05:26 PM   #3  
Since there is a pipe (conduit) you should be able to dig at the back of the pier to find the conduit. At least.... that's how I do it.


~ Pete ~

 
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12-11-17, 06:03 PM   #4  
Thanks a lot for the replies!!

Well, there's one other complication. The pier that has the 14/2 wire from the light switch is on the other side of the driveway and I'll have no way of getting new wire across the driveway. I'd be running the new 12V DC wire on the ground to the pier that has just the wire going to the other pier.

The pier that has the 14/2 wire AND the wire going to the other pier on across the driveway.

Also, even if I did find the conduit (below 3 feet), I feel like pulling a 14/2 wire through a 90 degree bed would be fruitless. I just cant see it moving knowing how small that pipe/conduit is.

 
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12-11-17, 06:39 PM   #5  
An electrician pulled the wire inside the conduit originally... so I don't know why you think it would be impossible to pull it again. 90 degree corners are usually done with "sweep elbows" or it would have been impossible to pull the wire in the first place.

I would assume you have a conduit under the driveway connecting the 2 piers. The question is, where do they split... where is the splice... hope it's not below ground.

Pete knows more than I do, but normally I would expect to see a junction above ground next to one or both of those columns.

 
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12-11-17, 06:39 PM   #6  
Did you find where the shorts are ? That can't all be defective.

Just adding on to X's reply..... usually just the piers have pipe in them. I've rarely seen conduit used under the driveway. The conduits at the piers are only sleeves for the UF cable.


~ Pete ~

 
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12-11-17, 08:51 PM   #7  
There are just two piers; each on either side of the driveway.
There are just two 14/2 wires:
Wire #1 = 100+ feet and runs under ground from the light switch in the house to one of the piers (the one that crosses the driveway).
Wire #2 runs from one pier to the other back under the driveway under ground.

Wire #1 tested for resistance between hot and ground (in another DIY thread) so it is bad, but wire #2 connecting the two piers tests good.

Wire #1 terminates at the top of the pier at the light fixture which is also where one of the ends of wire #2 is. So they all twist together at the light fixture.

So when you say "Do you know where the shorts are" ...there are only two wires. One's 100+ feet and the other connects the two piers; so I don't know how to answer that.

I was guessing since the 14/2 wire has resistance between two wires and probably broke, it is probably just buried with no conduit.

I already have landscaping 12V DC wire out there and a transformer with tons of watts left to use, and I want these pier lights on from dusk to dawn, so running 12V DC wire out to the twp piers is a perfect solution as long as I can get 12V candelabra LED bulbs. BUT I can't cross the driveway (like the original 14/2 wire did underground). So I need to run it to the one pier and then the 14/2 wire that originally connected the two piers will be used to carry the 12V DC to the other pier.

XLs: "where do they split... where is the splice... hope it's not below ground." Everything is underground. I'm in PA and we have 36" deep footers


 
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12-11-17, 09:03 PM   #8  
I want to add that I see conduit/pipe only at the top of the pier ...I have no idea if it is anywhere else.

 
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12-11-17, 09:29 PM   #9  
It's tough. No one knows what was done. I told you how I've always done it and since you do see a conduit at the top.... it has to come out somewhere. The line good between the piers is a good thing. You know the wire has to go underground from the house and arrive at the pier. I would dig on the side of the pier facing the house where the two wires are.

Since you are going low voltage.... when you find the wire.... cut it between the piers and attach your LV cable there. You can buy underground waterproof splices.

If I was there I'd use my underground tracer but it doesn't help you much here.

If worse comes to worst..... you'll have to run the LV wire up the backside of the pier and run directly into the light. You can pickup the other side there. Paint the wire to match the pier/brick.


~ Pete ~

 
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12-12-17, 06:56 AM   #10  
Thanks again for the great advice!

Regretfully, I cannot dig behind the pier that has the wire from the house switch because it crosses under the driveway and I have no way of running 12V DC cable across the driveway. Otherwise, it would be my first choice.

It looks like these are my options:

* Just run the line on the outside of the brick and paint it.
* Dig and splice into the line in between the two piers.

I never thought of digging for the line in between the piers ...which avoids drilling into either pier (great idea). But if I ever wanted to go back to 110V AC, I cant have the splice underground, but it may be worth it, however.

Thanks again!

 
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12-13-17, 08:15 PM   #11  
You're not following me. The cable between the piers is good. If you feed power up on the outside of either pier..... you're done. You use the existing jumper between them. The wire that goes to the house is shorted.... cap it off.

If you dig the jumper between the piers.... the wire is going to be tight/short when cut. I would splice on a 2' matching piece of cable and fully insulated it. Then it will be easier to make a splice between the two cut cables and your low voltage.

You can splice 120v underground. The splice must be 100% water proof.
You can search for UF splice kits. Basic kit is around $15.

My favorite splice was called a Scotchcast. Two styles.... one was a plastic tube with rubber boots on both ends. The splice is made with wire nuts or crimps, slid into the tube and then there is a resin that poured into the tube until it's full. The other style is a basically a plastic bag filled with a two part resin. You make the splices with regular wire nuts, knead the bag to mix the resin and stick the splices in the bag. Make sure they are fully encapsulated.

Another easy to use but not always quite as effective is using 3 butt crimp terminals, staggered in a row and then use heat shrink tubing with glue.


~ Pete ~

 
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