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Locating light switch next to pocket door, figuring out if there is space

Locating light switch next to pocket door, figuring out if there is space

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  #1  
Old 11-24-20, 10:07 AM
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Locating light switch next to pocket door, figuring out if there is space

I'm installing recessed LED lights in my living room. I'll have two sets of lights and would like to locate the two switches on this wall.



The issue is this wall contains a pocket door (slid out in pic). From jamb to corner, the wall is ~40" wide. The door itself is ~30" wide. So that should mean I have ~10" less corner stud-width, so ~8.5" to locate double ganged metal old work boxes (~4" wide). But this assumes there's nothing else back there. I'm not familiar with how old pocket doors are framed out, and my very basic studfinder is acting erratically on this wall. Thumping the wall with my hand tells me there is probably no stud until I approach the corner. The corner is very firm, so likely a stud there, and the drywall is fairly firm a few inches from the corner, which could just be the drywall being more rigid so close to a stud.

Last thing I want to do is blindly cut in, discover this location won't fit the electrical box, and then have to patch drywall, mud, sand, prime, and paint. Above this room is the attic, so I could drill through the top plate (which is how I would drop romex down) and insert a borescope and see what I can see. Of course anyone who has used a borescope knows these don't always make it clear what you're looking at, distances, etc.

Any suggestions?
 
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Old 11-24-20, 10:16 AM
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There could be anything in the wall. You just don't know for sure with older homes. I find it easiest to remove the pocket door and look into the cavity inside the wall.
 
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Old 11-24-20, 10:59 AM
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OKAY PilotDane. I've wondered about this for a long time. How does one remove a pocket door? Can it be done without dismantling the wall?
The OP's question makes me think I would just make a hole and have a look. but I am very good at patching holes. I understand someone eles's reluctance.
 
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Old 11-24-20, 12:16 PM
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Yes, pocket doors can be removed. They either unhook from the carrier above or the whole wheel assembly is lifted up and pushed to the side and it drops out of the track.
 
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Old 11-24-20, 12:34 PM
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Can you remove the thermostat(?) and look in through that opening? A small pocket mirror & flashlight or a borescope would be useful there.

What is behind the switch area on the other side of the wall? Maybe patching a small opening there would be less noticeable.
 
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Old 11-24-20, 01:49 PM
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This should be quite simple to figure out with just a studfinder. If the pocket door is 30 it's nowhere near the corner. All you need to worry about is the corner framing.
 
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Old 11-24-20, 06:10 PM
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Can you remove the thermostat(?) and look in through that opening? A small pocket mirror & flashlight or a borescope would be useful there.

What is behind the switch area on the other side of the wall? Maybe patching a small opening there would be less noticeable.
Good ideas, thanks.

I pulled out the thermostat, the wires run into a metal electrical box from the bottom. Interestingly, there's insulation there; not sure why as it's an interior wall. To the left of the thermostat (toward the corner), there is plaster(?) behind the drywall. When I removed the thermostat, one of the screw heads snapped off, so I had to drill for another plastic drywall anchor, which is how I discovered it's not just drywall. Perhaps that stuff is also behind the adjacent wall I'm interested in mounting the switchbox in.

The other side of the wall is the kitchen, and to make a hole there, I'd have to go into either the countertop backsplash or the cabinet.
 
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Old 11-24-20, 06:28 PM
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This should be quite simple to figure out with just a studfinder. If the pocket door is 30 it's nowhere near the corner. All you need to worry about is the corner framing.
Right, the door certainly doesn't extend to the corner - it will end a good 10" from the corner. But the studfinder is behaving erratically there. It's behaving as if there are doubled and tripled up studs in the 10" or so inches starting from that corner.

I did figure out where on the top plate in the attic is directly over the corner. As you can see from the pic, the wall ends and there's a room to the right. That area is supported by studs running on edge sitting on the top plate. Where I want to drill into the top plate is just after those studs on edge end. What gave me pause is there are nails driven straight down into that top plate. Why drive nails there unless there is wood underneath it. This area of top plate is between studs sitting on the top plate. I assume the studs in the pictured wall are directly underneath the studs I see on top of the top plate. So the shortened (less than 16") stud bay I see on top of the top plate (and which I assume corresponds to studs under the top plate) has nails down into the top plate. Perhaps there is some extra horizontal bracing under the top plate, or maybe there are double or tripled up studs under the top plate. I'll have to take a pic from the attic, that might be easier to convey what I'm talking about.
 
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Old 11-24-20, 06:33 PM
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Yes, pocket doors can be removed. They either unhook from the carrier above or the whole wheel assembly is lifted up and pushed to the side and it drops out of the track.
So I can access this mechanism by removing the top casing I guess. Can I do it from either side? Much easier to hide imperfections if I remove casing from the kitchen side.
 
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Old 11-24-20, 07:24 PM
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There should be doubled or tripled studs. Your pocket door is 30". The pocket door frame is 3/4 thick. Then at a minimum,, you have the trimmer and king stud for the header of the pocket door. Then there should be a space... then your corner stud, which could be turned in either direction. If you measure from the drywall corner, the edge of that stud will be either 2" or 4" from the corner of the drywall. There possibly could be another stud at the corner, which serves as the nailer for the drywall on the opposite side of the wall, in the corner. So if possible you could check k the opposite side of the wall with your stud finder if it isn't all cabinetry.

If you don't trust it, tap a nail in at the height your outlet hole will be.

There is absolutely no point in removing the pocket door.
 
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Old 11-25-20, 08:32 AM
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What gave me pause is there are nails driven straight down into that top plate.
Possibly the top plate is doubled.

Drill a 3/4 or 1 inch hole down through the top plate into the area you think is clear. Use a stiff wire (coat hanger) to probe side to side to determine where the studs are located and about how much room there is between them. Borescope + wire probe is also possible.
 
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Old 11-25-20, 10:44 AM
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This piqued my interest: "To the left of the thermostat (toward the corner), there is plaster(?) behind the drywall." Curious
How old is the house? You may have plaster overlaid with drywall. If this is the case then who knows what else was done during this remodel.
If this were me I'd have had a hole big enough to get my hand in and feel around and stick a tape measure in either side and have the box and wire roughed in by now. And I would really want to know if there is plaster there. I am just that curious. Not that I go making holes in walls just to see what is there but when I have a reason possibly to make a cut anyway I sure would want to find out. But like I said, I can make a patch that doesn't show if there is something there to prevent the wiring and I had to close it up.
 
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Old 11-25-20, 02:57 PM
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This piqued my interest: "To the left of the thermostat (toward the corner), there is plaster(?) behind the drywall." Curious
How old is the house? You may have plaster overlaid with drywall. If this is the case then who knows what else was done during this remodel.
If this were me I'd have had a hole big enough to get my hand in and feel around and stick a tape measure in either side and have the box and wire roughed in by now. And I would really want to know if there is plaster there. I am just that curious. Not that I go making holes in walls just to see what is there but when I have a reason possibly to make a cut anyway I sure would want to find out. But like I said, I can make a patch that doesn't show if there is something there to prevent the wiring and I had to close it up.
Early 60s house.

Yeah, drywall patching is probably my most dreaded DIY task, so I try to avoid it if at all possible.
 
  #14  
Old 11-25-20, 03:34 PM
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Here are a few pics from the attic to orient you guys as to where I'm drilling down.




In this next pic, you can see studs on edge sitting on the top plate. Those studs run across the portion of the room where there is no wall below - the wall I'm interested in ends here and then it's open space below.


The right edge of this short width stud bay is roughly where I think the pocket door ends. The left edge is close to the outside corner wall in the room below (the first pic in thread's first post).


Possibly the top plate is doubled.

Drill a 3/4 or 1 inch hole down through the top plate into the area you think is clear. Use a stiff wire (coat hanger) to probe side to side to determine where the studs are located and about how much room there is between them. Borescope + wire probe is also possible.
Looks like a triple top plate.

I went in with a 1" spade bit and hit a nail maybe ~3 - 3-1/2 down. Since I was so far down, I used a 1/2" spade bit to punch through. Total depth I'd estimate at 4" using a piece of 12g wire, but since that's so close to triple plate thickness, I'm guessing it's actually 4-1/2".

Slipped my borescope through. Hard to orient things as the head of the scope is far from your fingers. The nail is covered by the sawdust here. The pics are oriented from my perspective going in. So I'm thinking the horizontal open space runs parallel to the wall. But a few pics later you can see what should be a stud (if my orientation is correct) looks like it has a drywall label. Also if my orientation were correct, it seems that would mean there is cable between the edge of a stud and drywall, which can't be right.






 
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Old 11-25-20, 03:37 PM
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The 1/2" hole (inside the larger 1" partial hole) is good for 1 cable, so I drilled another 3/4" hole (to the right of the first hole) until I hit something. Feels like metal when I hit it with spade bit, and looks like metal from this shot. There's no headroom to get my eye over it. Will have to wait for my borescope to charge up before I can get a better look/pic of this. That obstruction is ~5" down as measured by sticking 12g wire down the hole, which would add weight to the notion that this is a triple top plate. And I'm still alive after making contact with that metal with bare copper wire, so it's not a live wire. Perhaps part of pocket door hardware? If I wiggle the 12g wire around, I can slip by that and go another 6" for ~11" total before I hit something (could be getting wedged in a small gap between materials).



 
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Old 11-25-20, 04:00 PM
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Drill a new hole for your wire and avoid the protruding nail. I built my house and ran into an almost identical situation when wiring. Being one guy working alone I didn't want to waste time drilling another hole. So, I ran the wire and was happy, job done! When I powered up the house to check everything out that circuit tripped. That stupid nail tore into the Romex when I was pulling wire and caused a short. Me saving a minute drilling a new hole cost me a hundred feet of wire and over an hour's time.
 
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Old 11-25-20, 04:37 PM
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Drill a new hole for your wire and avoid the protruding nail. I built my house and ran into an almost identical situation when wiring. Being one guy working alone I didn't want to waste time drilling another hole. So, I ran the wire and was happy, job done! When I powered up the house to check everything out that circuit tripped. That stupid nail tore into the Romex when I was pulling wire and caused a short. Me saving a minute drilling a new hole cost me a hundred feet of wire and over an hour's time.
With a third hole in this small area, I'd be turning this small section of top plate into swiss cheese. I guess structurally it's not a problem since this the studs are in contact with intact portions of the plate?

Edit: Yeah, that second hole obstruction was another nail. Nail city down there.
 

Last edited by cartman; 11-25-20 at 07:09 PM.
 

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