Sunday, September 12, 2010

Great Fishing Tales

I imagine I could cut the time it takes to wire the house by stripping the plaster and lath down completely, or making large holes in locations I want to run wire, but since the plaster has stood up well for a hundred and twenty-five years, and the purist in me doesn't want studded and drywalled walls, or lots of repair work to do, so the only thing to do to run wires is the painstaking process known as fishing.

Fishing essentially means routing wire through existing walls generally from unfinished areas, to the boxes that are to be supplied by said wires, all while making the minimal number of openings as possible. Generally it is easy enough to fish a wire down from the attic to a duplex outlet at the bottom of the wall, however there are times that obstructions prevent succesful fishing, and  a small opening must be made to aid in routing the wire.

Determining the correct location is the art, as you have to carefully determine the distance from where you are fishing that the obstruction occurs. Usually measuring the length of the fished wire (accounting for flex), and also knocking on the wall listening for more 'solid' sounds than 'hollow' will get you close, as the following examples illustrate.

I fished down this exterior wall about 5 feet, knocking up and down revealed a solid area, which I opened up exposing the lath.



After cutting out the lath, the cause of the obstruction was evident. The small wooden key between the courses of brick had bridged to the plaster, blocking my wire.



After cleaning the plaster out, I fished the wire into the opening, then continued it down the wall to the outlet in the baseboard. A small wire hook, penlight, and piece of mirror are very useful tools when fishing.

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