Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I do wire pulling in walls ceilings? Can I use a metal coat hanger for wire pulling?
Answer: There are a few methods and tools available for wire pulling in walls ceilings. How to pull wire depends on the wall or ceiling construction and the tools that are available at the moment. NOTE: Some text links below go to applicable products on Amazon and EBay.
WIRE PULLING IN WALLS CEILINGS
My experiences with using metal wire coat hangers to fish wires through walls and ceilings have not been very good. The steel wire used to manufacture coat hangers is a soft mild metal that bends easily. When a coat hanger wire is pushed into a wall it becomes distorted and is not very controllable as to direction.
However I do keep some pieces of metal wire hanger on my truck. I use them for hooking things and for probing inside of a wall or ceiling. More about coat hangers is down at the bottom of this post. A picture of my homemade tool from a coat hanger is below.
For working at home where you probably will not be installing long runs of electrical conduit, a twenty five foot fish tape would be adequate for your wire fishing jobs. I recommend at least an 1/8" x .060" size fish tape.
In my inventory of tools I have several short pieces of fish tape of varying lengths from one foot to around eight feet. They were all broken off of much longer fish tapes after getting bent or twisted the wrong way.
A metal Fish Tape is made of hardened steel with some flexibility built in. It is mostly rigid, but can be bent slightly to get around obstacles. It is excellent for fishing wires in walls and pulling wires through conduit. If the hook breaks, you can heat the metal up and bend a new one.
The sloped ceiling in the photo above made it easy for me to push my fish tape up into the attic. There was a space between the top plate of the wall and the ceiling joists big enough to put my hand through.
Once the wire was pulled in it was simple to push it through a drilled hole in the top plate and then fish it down the wall to a new switch box.
When I began working on electrical jobs in the early 1960's the metal fish tapes available at the time were either loose or on a rigid metal reel. The loose fish tapes were usually coiled into a short piece of flexible metal conduit.
I would cringe whenever I had to wind the fish tape back onto one of those old metal reels. My hands would hurt from trying to pull it into the tight metal grooves. Eventually an attachment winder was made to make the process easier. I was in wire pulling heaven after my father bought a new plastic reel to wind the fish tape on. So much easier.
WIRE PULLING FISH RODS
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