wiring across finished ceiling joists
Sunday, November 10 2019
Gretchen had to get out of bed at 5:00am this morning to catch a flight from Albany to Boise, Idaho, where she will be starring in a number of events related to her new poetry collection, Visiting Days. I got up much later, and only got around to walking the dogs at something like 11:00am. It was another unseasonably brisk day, though not as cold as it had been on Friday.
I spent the entire day working on the electrification of the new split air conditioners. My focus was on the three located at the south end of the house, where they will all be supplied by a new circuit breaker panel that I will be installing in one of the closets in Gretchen's library. To connect that circuit breaker panel to the existing on in the boiler room meant stringing fat six gauge wire some forty feet across numerous basement ceiling joists. Unfortunately, there are no existing wire chases or any work-around to cutting open the ceiling of the basement hallway to run the wire. Given that reality, I tried to minimize the damage by opening up a rectangular piece on every third joist. This would give me full access to both sides of those joists while giving me access to one or the other side of all the others. There were plenty of existing holes of sufficient size for the new wire, though I did end up drilling a few holes through the joists nearest the boiler room (where the ceiling has been opened ever since I installed an undersized hydronic zone in Gretchen's library). The challenge with threading wire through two joists when you only have access to one side of each is that you have to use something flexible that can be straightened to poke through the accessible hole in one joist and then "feel" your way to the hole in the inaccessible side of the next. To do this, I used a piece of flexible quarter inch copper pipe, the kind used to provide water to a refrigerator's ice maker. After some effort, I'd manage to poke the copper pipe through, then I'd use duct tape to attach fishing tape to the copper pipe so I could get that through the holes, and then I'd attach the big fat cable to the fishing tape to finally pull the cable through. I couldn't figure out any easier, less destructive way to do it.
Initially I was daunted by all the work and mess required to cut holes in the hall ceiling, but once 120 milligrams of pseudoephedrine kicked in, the work went fairly quickly. As it happened, I only had to cut four holes in hallway ceiling (which already contained two holes). This meant I was able to run cable across-joist for something like thirty feet using only six holes. I also had to cut an additional hole in the back of Gretchen's closet in order to pull the wired down into the inter-stud bay that I wanted to put the new circuit breaker box in. I was surprised to find copper plumbing for a water line in this same bay; it turned out it supplied the only outdoor spigot on the east side of the house. The presence of plumbing meant that I couldn't use the bigger eight-circuit-breaker-capable Square D circuit breaker box. So I had to fall back to a six-circuit-breaker box. This means that only three splits can be powered from the new breaker box.
Having made good progress on the split electrification, I made myself a Vegan Harvest pizza, to which I added a bunch of sautéed onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, and (a trace) of broccoli. Later I took a bath (mostly to wash away the grime of the day's work) and then treated myself to a responsible amount of booze before bed.
The four newest holes in the basement hallway ceiling.
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