Cable Management

The boys connect power to the house through our transfer switch outside.

The boys connect power to the house through our transfer switch outside.

Success!! Colin connected the main power to the house, and it worked on the very first try. We’ve removed all outlets from the outdoor pedestal, and now our onsite power runs through the circuit breaker panel in the basement mechanical room. That means certain parts of the panel are “hot”… so keep your distance if you don’t know what you’re doing, or you’ll be in for a SHOCK.

The electrical panel grows in complexity.

The electrical panel grows in complexity. Don’t touch the metal tabs running down the middle.

The cables get complicated in a hurry. We’ve spent this week running circuits for electrical outlets, lighting circuits, telephone cables, ethernet cables, and coaxial (TV) cables to every corner of the house. Fortunately, the cable types are all different sizes, and they come in distinct colors for easy identification.

Kari joined our team for the week, and Colin immediately put her to work wiring an overhead bathroom fan. The box was physically challenging to install, but the real test was connecting both a 2-conductor cable and a 3-conductor cable… to operate the fan and the associated light fixture. Kari actually came up with multiple ways to connect the wires. One scheme (connecting all the neutral wires in one junction) seemed the simplest, but codes deemed it unacceptable – thus the electrical engineer’s realm of possibility was trumped by the realities of the law. In the end she wired the fan a slightly more complicated way following the package instructions.

Kari, deep in concentration, wires a bathroom fan.

Kari, deep in concentration, wires a bathroom fan.

Ceiling fans weren’t the only overhead fixtures we installed. I contributed lots of overhead lights, including a line of recessed boxes running down the first floor’s main axis between the kitchen and the living room. I centered each box on the width of the hallway, and arranged the boxes lengthwise to space them as equally as possible while still fitting between floor joists. Other ceiling boxes need to go where there’s no convenient surface to nail to, so I’ve installed 2×4 blocks between the trusses at the appropriate locations. Most boxes are designed to hang down the thickness of the drywall ceiling, which means right now they stick out an extra half-inch.

Line of "cans" (i.e. recessed lighting boxes) I installed in the front hall.

Line of “cans” (i.e. recessed lighting boxes) I installed in the front hall ceiling.

We wired ethernet and TV to the family room downstairs, all three bedrooms upstairs, and pretty much every room on the first floor. Colin installed a TV antenna way up in the roof trusses, and oriented it in the general direction of the tower on Mt Mansfield. (I offered to bring over a map and compass, but was told that close is good enough.) We also screwed a plywood panel into a corner of the second floor wall so that we can install a satellite dish later. This task involved Terry outside the house, atop a ladder with a drill, and Colin inside the house, holding the plywood steady so the screws would catch.

Colin works on the antenna.

Colin works on the antenna.

Terry works on the satellite connection.

Terry works on the satellite connection.

It feels like we’ve made great progress. Even so, there’s a staggering amount of overhead lighting yet to be installed, and we must finish all our wiring on the exterior walls before we can close them up. Insulation is scheduled to arrive next week.

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