Wiring fun

So, I’m doing a bit of rewiring in our spare bedroom, soon to become my 3-year-old’s new room. The previous owners put up a ceiling fan. Problem is, they didn’t bother to install an approved box. It’s one of those lovely nail-to-the-underside-of-the-studs metal bar jobbies. Rather than sit around twiddling my thumbs until the fan comes crashing down, I’m putting a new box in with a proper brace. Along the way, I’m replacing the wall switch, a fan/light control that has (putting it nicely) seen better days.

Well, nothing is ever that easy. The new fan control is slightly deeper than the old one. The power feeds through the wall box. There are 3 cables coming into the box: A 14-2 BX feed, a 14-3 BX carrying switched, unswitched and neutral to the ceiling box, and a 14-2 romex that someone added at a later date, to carry switched power to the fan (separate from the lights). So, we’ve got 3 cables and a grand total of 5 wirenuts (3 for the switch, 1 for neutral, and 1 to cap off the unused wire in the romex cable). Short story: I can’t fit everything in the box with the deeper switch.

I want to use this switch. I’ve got 2 other identical ones elsewhere in the house. So, looks like I need to do some rewiring.

I suppose I could replace the box. Nothing I haven’t done before. But, these boxes are holy hell to get out of the wall, without destroying the wall (plaster over gypsum board, or “rock lath” as it was called back in the day). No, I think I’ll rewire things and take the wall box out of the circuit, and make it a simple switch loop. Then I can cut it down to a single 14/3 cable going to the box, with a hot and two switched lines, 1 for the fan and 1 for the lights. Then it’ll fit.

So, I’ll just find a wire in the attic that’s ahead of the switch box in the circuit, cut it, and route it directly to the ceiling box, right? Sure, in theory. Problem is, there are no wires in the attic that are ahead of the switch box. The switch box IS the feed from the basement to the attic. Time for plan B. Looks like I’ll need to run a new wire from the basement to the attic. This will require me to break out my wire fishing skills. Now, having wired my own security system, I’ve done my share of fishing. However I’ve never run a wire straight from the basement, through a stud cavity, and into the attic (this is a rancher, BTW. Unfinished attic on top, drop-ceiling basement on bottom. If you’re into wiring, ranchers rock). Seems like it should be easy in theory. I guess I’ll find out. This should be fun! More later.

1 thought on “Wiring fun

Comments are closed.