Wiring Basics 3

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DIY Alarm Systems / DIY Security Systems

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Wiring Basics 3

Wiring from a Basement or Attic

Wiring 1 Drilling from below

• First plan your strategy carefully and look for any obstructions that may be in the way. In a room above the basement, bore a small location hole through the floor, just outside the wall space through which you wish to pull the cable(s). Stick a scrap piece of stiff wire from an old coat hanger through the hole and bend the end over so it can not fall through. This will mark the position of the hole down stairs.

• From the basement, locate and find the marker wire. Always check for any obstructions such as house wiring, phone lines and gas lines. When you are sure it is clear, carefully drill up through the sole plate of the wall with a long drill bit. If you are working near the foundation wall, you may have to angle the drill bit to hit the sole plate. When running cable from the attic down to a finished room, follow the same procedure in reverse. Drill the location hole up through the room’s ceiling, then drill through the top plate of the wall from the attic. Use a straightened coat hanger to probe around and clear any insulation from your path.

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wiring2Fishing cables through walls or between floors

• Decide where you want to install the contact and from the position of the component, drill a hole through the door frame or window frame. Then drill a hole through the nearest wall stud, in the case of an interior sensor or keypad. Unroll a few feet of the fish tape and bend a hook on it. Push the end of a fish tape through the hole and into the wall until it clears the last stud.

• Have a helper push a second tape through the hole drilled in the wall plate and maneuver both tapes until their ends catch. In an exterior wall filled with insulation, use the natural curl of the fish tape to keep it between the inside face of the wall board and the vapor barrier of the insulation.

• Pull the hooked fish tapes into the basement or attic, unhook them, attach the cable to the fish tape leading from the component’s position, and pull the cable through the wall.

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Wiring along a vent stackWiring along a plumbing stack or vent.

• Locate a plumbing stack or vent stack that runs the length of the wall from one floor to the attic.

• Take a piece of 1/4 inch rebar or other stiff rod and probe around the plumbing or vent stack to make a hole and push any insulation out of the way.

• From the attic, lower a small fishing weight attached to a long piece of string or chain into the space along side the plumbing stack. If the weight is blocked, jiggle and bounce it up and down until it falls past the obstruction. You might also want to try different spots around the vent stack.

• When the string reaches the basement, attach cables to the string, staggering the points of attachment to avoid a bulky connection.

• Make sure all cables are clearly labeled as to what the cables are and where they are coming from. You do not want to try and figure this out later after you have pulled the cables up.

• A helper will be useful in feeding the cables up while you are gently pulling them with string. If the cables get stuck or hung up, pull the cables back a short distance and try again. Sometimes this procedure will have to be done several times before they finally get through.

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Wiring Through ClosetsWiring through closets.

• Use the following procedure when closets are not stacked directly above one another:

• Fish cables from the basement through a hole drilled in the floor of a closet above.

• Drill a hole through the closet ceiling into the space between the joists above.

• Drill a hole down into the same joist space through the floor of a closet on the next floor.

• Tack one end of a heavy string to the floor of the upper closet. Wrap the other end into loops, and stuff the loops down into the joist space.

• Push a fish tape through the hole in the lower closet and snag the string (inset). Pull the string into the lower closet, tie it to the cables, and pull them into the upper closet.

• If the closets do not share a joist space, remove a section of baseboard in an upper room and drill behind it on an angle into the joist space above the lower closet. Fish cables through and run them behind the baseboard (below) to the nearest closet or sensor.

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Hiding Cable BaseboardHiding cable behind baseboards

• Insert the blade of a wood chisel or stiff putty knife between the wall and the top of the base board and working from one end of the baseboard to the other, carefully pry it away from the wall.

• Push the cable into the gap between the floor and the bottom of the wall board. You may have to staple it in place if necessary. If there is no gap between the floor and wallboard, cut a groove for the cable along the wall. Use a utility knife to cut away wallboard and a hammer and cold chisel if you have plaster walls.

• Nail the baseboard back in place, being careful not to short or damage the wire. You will probably have to angle the nails to avoid the cable. Fill in the nail holes in the baseboard with a color matching putty.

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Fishing Cable BaseboardFishing cable from behind a baseboard

• Tie one end of a piece of string into a series of loops so it looks like a flower. You want it to end up being a ball that will expand once inside and not lay flat against the sole plate.

• Then attach the alarm cable to the end of the string. Keep the connection as small as possible.

• Below the sensor location, make a mark on the wall at the top of the baseboard. Gently remove the baseboard with a stiff putty knife or wide pry bar. If some of the finishing nails pull through the baseboard don't worry. Just pull out the nails in the 2x4 and then re-drive them when you replace the board or caulk the holes.

• Drill a hole in the wall just above the 2x4 sole plate behind the baseboard, and below the mark you placed on the wall. Push the string loops through the hole and try to keep it elevated off of the 2x4 base.

• Now feed the fish tape through the sensor hole and 2x4s. Fish around and catch the string loops with it. Carefully pull the tape, string, and cable through the sensor hole.

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wiring7Fishing Cable with a Magnet

• Instead of using a looped string and fish tape to run cable down along a wall, it is often easier to do the job with a magnet and a length of non-rigid ferromagnetic chain.

• Simply drop the chain through the sensor hole into the wall and draw it out the exit hole at the base of the wall with the magnet.

• Then tie the cable to the chain and pull it through the sensor hole. You can buy chain-and-magnet sets at an electrical supply shop, or fashion your own.

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Drill around cornersA Drill Bit that goes Around Corners

• If you need to make many short wiring runs from door or window sensors to spaces below or above, you can save time by purchasing a flexible drill bit like the one shown at right. Available in lengths of 44 inches and 6 feet, the bit has a flexible, spring-steel shaft with a small hole in each end. These features make it possible to drill through walls, then attach wires to the bit and pull them through the hole as you withdraw the bit.

• For best results, use the bit with a variable-speed reversible drill. First bore a hole halfway through the jamb at the sensor’s location with a regular bit, angling the hole toward the attic or basement. Then complete the hole with the flexible bit. When you feel the bit emerge from the studs of the rough frame stop the drill and slide the bit forward until it strikes the next stud, which will deflect it up or down to the wall plate. Then drill through the plate.

• Fish the wires with a device called a wire basket, consisting of a net and a swiveling hook that attaches to the hole in the bit (inset). To link the cable to the basket, push the cable into the net; as you pull on the cable, the net pulls tight around it. The swivel hook allows you to run the drill and pull the bit back out of the holes, without twisting the wires.

• Flexible bits and wire baskets are available at home improvement warehouses, electrical supply and alarm system supply houses. Other helpful accessories include alignment handles and guide tubes to bend the bit into tight curves. Extensions that allow you to drill as far as 10 feet can also be purchased.

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Continued on Wiring Basics 4 page.



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