How to Run/Fish Electrical Wire Through Walls & Ceilings | The Home Depot


Running electrical
wires behind your walls is a great way to add
an additional outlet or switch right where you need it. We know the idea of working behind
drywall or paneling sounds difficult, but fishing electrical
wires behind walls is a job you can do yourself with a
few common tools, a helpful assistant, and a little patience. First things first. If you aren’t comfortable
with wiring projects, hire a professional electrician
to run your new wire or cable. Check with local building inspectors
before doing any electrical work to ensure compliance with local codes. Now let’s get started. Determine the location
for your new device. Then decide whether to power your
new device from an existing outlet or from the breaker panel. Diagram your new wiring path and
measure for the length of NMB cable you’ll need. Buy some extra cable in case you
encounter any unexpected obstructions. To be clear, cable refers to
the wires inside the jacket where the wires are enclosed. Be aware that wire just means the
individual circuit feeder wire itself. Ready to go? Let’s do this. Step one. Turn off the electricity. Make sure to turn off the
electricity at the breaker panel to the outlet or circuit
breaker you will draw power from for your new device. Use a voltage tester to confirm the
power is off at the outlet or breaker. Be sure a new device will not
overload the circuit from which you will draw power, and check
with local building inspectors before doing any electrical work to
ensure compliance with local codes. Step two. Mark for the electrical box. Use a stud finder to insure the location
for your new device isn’t on a stud. Hold the electrical box up to
the wall in the location where it will be installed. Use a level to ensure
the outline is straight. Trace around the box with a
pencil to mark the area to be cut. Step three. Drill a hole in the ceiling or floor. If you’ll be running
cable through the ceiling, carefully drill a hole
with a 1/8 inch drill bit through the ceiling above
the new wall box location. If you’ll be running cable through
your basement or crawl space, drill into the baseboard or floor
right next to the baseboard instead. Insert a stiff wire or straightened
coat hanger into the hole. In your attic or
basement, look for a two by four beam adjacent to
the protruding stiff wire. In an attic, this beam is the top
of the wall, known as the top plate. In a basement, it’s the bottom of
the wall, known as the bottom plate. If the two by four is under a piece
of plywood or covered in another way, measure two and 1/2 inches from the
reference wire toward the two by four and drill there. That should put the hole
in the middle of the plate. Check with a flashlight to be sure there
are no electrical wires or plumbing pipes behind the walls
where you’ll be working. Step four. Cut the opening for the electrical box. Drill a 1/2 starter hole at a corner
of your electrical box outline. Start at the hole and cut along
the outline with the drywall saw. It’s OK if the edges of
the opening are rough. You’ll conceal this opening
with a wall plate later. Step five. Run the cable. In your attic, use the spade bit to
drill a hole through the top plate directly above the new
electrical box location. If you’re running cable through
a basement or crawl space, drill a hole in the bottom
plate directly below the box. Feed your fish tape into the wall
opening, pushing it up into the hole you made in the top plate. If you’re running a cable through
a basement or crawl space, push it down to the hole
in the bottom plate. You can use the end of a coat hanger
to pull the end of the fish tape through the hole. Step six. Running cable past a fire block. A fire block is a horizontal beam of
wood running between the wall studs. You can drill a hole through
them or create a notch to accommodate your wire. To drill a hole, insert
a long, flexible drill bit through the opening
for the electrical box and position it on the
center of the fire block. Then drill through the fire block. To cut a notch cut into the drywall
at the location of the wall block. Then use a sharp chisel and a hammer
to cut a 3/4 inch wide by one inch deep notch in the fire block
as a conduit for the cable. Pull the cable past the fire block. After you have fished the
cable through the notch, cover the notch with a metal nail plate
to protect the cable from nail damage. Then patch over the drywall hole. Step seven. Pull the cable through the wall. From the attic,
basement, or crawl space, use electrical tape to secure one end of
the cable to the hook on the fish tape. At the wall opening, steadily
retract the fish tape, pulling the cable into the wall opening. Be careful not to create friction. This might damage the cable sheathing. It also avoids making kinks
that could damage the wire. And there you have it,
running wire made easy. Now before you start
running wire yourself, make sure you have all
the items you need. For tools, you’ll need a stud finder, a
voltage tester, drywall saw, fish tape, chisel, level, a cordless
drill including a 1/8 drill bit and a 1/2 inch drill bit. If you don’t have a
cordless drill, they’re available to rent at The Home
Depot Tool Rental Center. For materials, you’ll
need some guide wire. Got any questions? Head over to your local Home
Depot and spark up a conversation with the handy folks in
the electrical department.

48 Replies to “How to Run/Fish Electrical Wire Through Walls & Ceilings | The Home Depot

  1. Running wires requires a license unless you are the home owner…even then be sure to talk to an electrician about your plan. Be safe God bless

  2. I use to happily wear the Orange Apron and work, work, work in the Hardware department of f of Pullman Stret In Anaheim hills.

  3. You need to make sure your using the correct gauge wire, because 12 gauge is for 15 amps and 20 gauge is for 20Amps

  4. As an installer, i'd like to ask how she found the fish tape underneath the top plate after feeding it upwards.
    you cant just give people info without proper justification.
    This is way to simplified an explanation for the DIYer, especially when electrical is the project

  5. Question: Why would I snake from a 2"x2 1/2 cutout to a 7/8" hole? Common sense should dictate snake from the small to the large hole.. pretty damn hard to see/ grab a snake through a 7/8" hole! But a 2×2 1/2" hole makes life a "hole" less complicated………

  6. She makes it look like it's the easiest thing to do, unbelievable. It going to prob take me half a day to run speaker wires, unbelievable

  7. It’s all good because home owners will try to fish wire roll around in rat sh*t and realize why I charge what I charge to do

  8. She doesnt use the electrical tester, or wiggy, correctly. She should insert the prong in both outlet slots to make sure.

  9. Would be a lot easier to run the fish down through the hole in the attic to the huge hole in the wall, rather than start at the huge hole and move up to the tiny hole in the top plate…

  10. Get some knee pads and a piece of plywood for crawling in the attic.  Those joists will KILL your knees.  Also, you can put a piece of metal coathanger into the drill and send it thru as a marker.  It will stay put after your loosen the drill chuck and it makes a tiny hole.  Also, it will pass thru plywood and even oak flooring!  If you have a friend, you can skip this step and let him knock knock.

  11. How do you fish wire up to the ceiling which is the floor of the 2nd story where you can't access it? How do you go horizontally?

  12. Is there always space above the ceiling for running wires horizontally? Or do you have to cut through joists or something sometimes in a 2 story house or building?

  13. Okay, but how to make a single outlet a dual one? SO you have one outlet, and you want to add a seconed or ever third right next to it? Do you need to run wire through the wall like this, or can you just add the wire directly from one to another?

  14. How do I do this without access to my attic? I want to add a jamb switch to a pull-chain light in a closet but have no clue how to fish the wire through the ceiling, down the wall and into the door jamb without damaging the plaster.

  15. I didn't understand step 3, drilling a hole in the ceiling. So this hole is just purely for reference? . Also wouldn't it make more sense if the manufacturers who make fish wire make it a bright color like yellow or pink? Why make it black. That's hard to see in-between dark walls.

  16. This….makes me feel better. To see a woman doing this cause I've had plenty of people tell me "it's a man's job".

  17. the only part i was wondering was the top and bottom plate stuff and that had the least info…go figure

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