running lines from wall to recessed lights

Old 03-17-03, 09:15 AM
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running lines from wall to recessed lights

What is the best way to snake wire from an existing switch in a wall, upt the wall and into a plastered ceiling where I want to install a number of recessed lights?

The joist run perpendicular to the wall where the switch and source of power are at present.

Do I need to cut access holes at the corner between the wall and the ceiling in order to drill through the top plate of the wall?

The joists are 2x8 with 3/4 plaster.

Lastly, the fixture will be 6 feet apart. Do I drill through the joists, and therefore need to cut access holes between the joists, or do I notch the bottom of the joist and then cover with a metal plate and plaste over?
Old 03-17-03, 03:15 PM
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My suggestion being it is impossible to see the situation you are facing is to get some good Home Wiring books and see if some of there examples fit the circumstances you are in. In some cases you can fish wire with a minimun of damage to the walls if you go about it properly. In other cases a small amount of damage is unavoidable, but it is impossible to give advice on something like this without seeing. Seeing pictures of different installations might give you a better idea on how to approach yours.
Old 03-17-03, 09:47 PM
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Hope this helps

Heres what I would do. First, buy yourself a 3 5/8" holesaw, its just big enough to fit your hand in the hole, and if you keep the rounds after the cut, a good sheetrocker can patch those holes perfectly.
Take the holesaw and cut a hole about 1 1/2" away from the wall on the ceiling, lined up with the switch box. Put your hand in the hole and feel the top plate of the wall and see if there is already a hole there with a wire passing through it going to the switch. Now there are two scenerios here:

If there is a hole there: Sweet! your in business. Shut off the power to the existing switch, and cut the old box out of the wall, Creating a bigger hole for your new 2 gang box, ( thats an assumption on my part, one switch for the fan, and one for the lights.)

If there is NOT a hole there: Youll need to cut a hole in the wall with your shiny new hole saw. Typically I cut the hole about 6" from the ceiling, then drill a hole up through the top plate of the wall. hen follow the rest of the instructions in the above paragraph.

One important detail, each time you cut a hole in the ceiling or the wall, reach your hand in and make sure there is no plumbing or existing electrical that may be compromised if you start drilling in there.

So now, if all has gone well, you have a path from the ceiling to the switch. Now, up in the ceiling, you need to find the exact location of your joists, I use a studfinder. If you need to run wire perpendicular to the joists, cut the hole so that the edge of the saw is close to the edge of the joist. Now before you go drilling for wiring you need to check the other side of the joist for plumbing and electrical, so drill another hole with the hole saw on the opposite side of the next joist bay. So basically, you need to be able to reach your hand inside each joist bay so you can feel both sides of each joist with your hand to check for plumbing and electrical, so you dont damage them. As far as running perpendicular, you should have a clear shot in each bay.

Hope this helps.
Old 03-18-03, 06:51 AM
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Thanks to both of you for the reply.

Have any of you had any experience with the carbide tipped hole saws made by Greenlee? They come in a large number of diameters for cutting holes for recessed lighting cans.

What about those very long (48") flexible drill bits?

I used a regular bimetal hole saw to cut a 4" hold through wood lathe with cement and plaster and it destroyed the blade after cutting one hole. I was using a 300 rpm 1/2 drill, so speed was not the issue, but the cement behind the plaster ground down the blade after one hole.
Old 03-18-03, 08:25 AM
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Correct about plaster. It decimates expensive hole saws in no time. I usually "cut" holes in plaster with a small masonry bit. Mark your cut and then drill a series of holes as close to each other as possible. Then use an old screwdriver to chip away the plaster. You didn't say what type of lath you have under the plaster. You can change to a hole saw if you're careful once you get down to the lath.

The 48-60" flexible bits do well. You could remove your switch box (if you are changing to a 2-gang) and drill up through the top plate (make sure you try and "bend" the bit back so you don't come out the other side of the wall). If you happened to be installing a fixture straight out from the wall switch, you could cut out your fixture hole and then use two fish tapes or a piece of wire and a fish tape and try and hook them together (this will take two people). The fish tape should be pushed up from the switch and can then be pulled out the fixture box using the wire. Make a smooth connection between fish tape and romex cable when pulling back to the switch to make it through the hole.

It's impossible to figure out the best way to get your wires where needed without seeing your particular situation. I assume from your questions that you don't have access above the ceiling. Do you have access under the floor? What type of rooms are on the other side of the walls? Sometimes to avoid cutting / repairing sheetrock and plaster it is possible to take a less direct approach (i.e fish a wire down under a house and then come up inside a closet and surface run the wire up the wall inside the closet and angle drill from the closet into the ceiling in the next room and fish the wire to a fixture box OR surface mount wiremold in an adjacent utility room along the top of the wall (against ceiling) and drill where required at an angle into the ceiling on the other side of the wall and fish wire).

Imagination is a useful tool when it comes to fishing wire.
Old 03-18-03, 08:59 AM
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This is on the first floor, with a full second floor above. So I have to snake the wire up through the wall, and then into the ceiling.

Plaster is relatively soft.

Its the cement backing on the wood lathe that kills the hole saw or jig saw blades.

I am going to go for the carbide coated blade, as I have used carbide drill bits to go through brick and cinder block, and tip seems to hold up pretty well.

Your idea of drilling small holes and then chipping out the rest will always work, but takes much more time. In fact, its the best way to drill through an outer wall to install a round fixture box.

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