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October 14, 2007
Wiring 101

Gail and her step-brother Jim inventory their collection of various switchboxes

We have been busily installing interior walls in our mountain home as a step along the way to two major milestones: the plumbing and the electrical wiring. After a conversation with our building inspector friend Dennis, we have decided to subcontract the plumbing. On the other hand, we are still going to try to do the electrical wiring ourselves.

Of course, it helps immensely that Gail’s step-brother Jim is a licensed electrician with 20 years’ experience. On the weekend of October 13, we decided that our interior walls were far enough along to invite Jim up for a day to go over wiring.

We knew that Jim would be bringing his father Gordon and Gail’s mother Pat. What we didn’t know was that Jim was also bringing several hundred dollars’ worth of wiring and switch boxes. We were actually going to begin doing the wiring work, and Gail was thrilled.

Jim was only here for one day, Saturday, so he and Gail decided to concentrate on the upstairs light switches and electrical outlets. (Russell was still in the midst of his endless crusade of installing joists around the center pole.) Jim was wonderfully patient, giving Gail a crash course in single-gang versus double-gang boxes, 2-way versus 3-way light switches, and 12/3 (yellow) versus 14/3 (white) wire.

The first step was to mark the locations on the walls where switch boxes and outlet boxes would go. Gail learned the various codes and symbols: “S1,” “S2” and “S3” for the various light switches, a “O” with two slashes for a power outlet, etc.

Gail marks where the various light switches and power outlets will go

The second step was to nail the boxes in place.

Jim shows Gail the proper height to install a switch box
In order to install the outlet boxes, Gail had to deal with her old nemesis, the foam insulation

The third step was to daisy-chain the wiring from box to box. This involved using a paddle bit to auger holes in various joists and studs.

Gail and Jim pull wire

Jim and Gail were nowhere near finished by the end of the day, but they were off to a very good and productive start. Best of all, Jim believes that we have plenty of time to get the electrical wiring completely roughed in by our January inspection deadline.

Taking a lunch break: Jim, Gail's mother Pat, and Jim's father Gordon


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