DIY Electrical–Part 1

IMG_1087After buying my house a year ago, I had determined that I should tackle one major task/upgrade per year. I can continue ‘little’ things in the meantime, but this sets a pace for myself so I don’t get too discouraged. Continue after the break, for the start of this year’s upgrade: electricity.

I started by listing all my major projects, then prioritizing them in my head. I decided that while the shop/garage isn’t a high priority, having electricity there will make further projects easier and more efficient. The shop had power in the past, but the overhead line feeding it had been removed many years ago, rather than pay increased insurance rates. After dreaming & planning, I called an electrician out and “picked hisIMG_1089 brain” for half an hour.

We agreed on running a 100-amp service underground to a new panel, so I started to dig a trench to place the conduit over 18” deep. I’ve enlisted the Queen Marie and TBear to help with this endeavor while they visit over summer break. However, before I’ll be able to run the conduit, there’s another issue standing in the way.

IMG_1322Prior to listing, the previous owners had replaced the asphalt shingle siding with composite wood panels. For this, I am very grateful, and we painted together, prior to sale. However, the garage has ditches dug around it (for pouring the foundation, I imagine) and rather than trip the panels, they were installed full-length. This caused the bottom of the siding to extend below the grade of the surrounding soil. I decided to fix that before attaching conduit to the side.IMG_1251

While not perfect, or easy by any means, I did so. Using the truest 2×4 lumber I had, I created a rip-fence edge for my circular saw. Setting the depth to only cut the siding, and not concrete, I carefully removed the bottom 8 or so inches. Once that was complete, we started on the trench in earnest, and are over half-way to our target depth of 22”. (I’ll take the opportunity to run an extra conduit for Cat5, and other future needs.)

IMG_1259Since I’m pulling permits on this project, I figured I might as well do all the other little things at the same time. My house had two pairs of 240V cadet heaters which were consuming a lot of interior breaker capacity. Since I use a kerosene furnace as my primary heat source, I decided I could remove the pair in the bedrooms, and leave the pair in the kitchen/bathroom as a backup. (All the plumbing is in this area anyway.) By removing these heaters, I re-provisioned the circuits as 120v outlets. Now those bedrooms have two outlets on opposing walls! IMG_1344

My friend came across a range hood recently, so I procured that for my kitchen. After failing to “fish” the wall with Romex or coat-hanger wire, I was finally successful by tying a series of nuts on a string, and lowering down the wall. This I was able to grab with a hooked coat-hanger from the existing outlet below. My girlfriend was over that night, observing with Lil Pill, so she was able to snap a picture for ya!

IMG_1329I had to move the telephone box from under my meter box, to make room for the new one. The new box will allow for the service & meter, but will also have distribution to “sub-feed” my new garage panel. In other news, I reattached my kerosene fuel line, which had been hanging in mid air for years as siding wasIMG_1331 installed, painted, etc. I also made my first set of “french cleats” with which to hang a mirror for Queen Marie’s room.

Lastly, I’ve begun “rough-in” of my garage. Two circuits already exist, providing outlets around the walls of the 18×30 foot space. I plan to create two circuits overhead, one for lights (on a switch) and the other 20-amp receptacles for tool use. I also intend to have motion-activated flood lights facing the yard & parking spot.

It’s August now, and I hope to have all rough-in complete by the end of the month, so the electrician can swap boxes, terminate, and call for inspection. Wish me luck, and I’ll be sure to provide an update on completion. Take care!


2 responses to “DIY Electrical–Part 1

  1. Hey Josh it looks GREAT your doing a good job. The only suggestion I would make is to move your new breaker box to the right stud. Because if you ever plan to insulate and finish the interior walls your faceplate on the box will be to close to the window trim and windows get more moisture weapage and water doesn’t mix well with electricity. Also I think by code you need to put a romex staple within 6″ of every receptacle. I’m only trying to be helpful not critical. I think you are doing a Great job and I am trying to come see you soon. I Love You So Much and Miss you.

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