Getting started with the basics of home wiring

Now, let’s get started on the actual cables and wiring circuit runs. First we will work on switches and outlets as these are the main focus of this page. The lower voltage circuit runs will come later.

I like to put all the receptacle and switch boxes in first. These can be either plastic or metal depending mostly on the homeowners choice, but in some locations, only metal boxes are allowed.

This also includes light boxes, or more often called junction boxes. These attach really easy. They have a sheetrock depth calibration already on them so you get a good accurate fit without having to measure.

Most boxes can just be nailed in place. Every outlet, light switch, junction box, and even modern day phone jacks will need a box. You can get these boxes in many sizes depending on your needs. You will probably use a lot more boxes than you’d expect, but they’re dirt-cheap.

It’s important that each box is nailed evenly to the wall stud, but it’s also important to make sure that the box extends beyond the stud evenly. If the nails are too tight on the top or the bottom, the plastic box will not be so square anymore.

These are mistakes that aren’t covered up by the finish work because the switches and outlets will appear slightly crooked when everything is done. Also, it’s just a good idea to put a reinforced junction box in where every light will be. These are available at all electric suppliers.

electrical box

A bracket or telescoping rod seems like overkill at the time, but somewhere in the future either you or someone will want to put up a ceiling fan, a chandelier, or something heavy and it’s much harder to reinforce a finished ceiling than to install a cheap $2.00 piece of metal while the ceiling is exposed. The bar hanger junction box gives more support than a normal hanger bracket.


Once the boxes are installed, the
wires can be run
from box to box.

You will need to leave extra wire for working with. It’s always a good idea to leave an extra 6 to 8 inches of wire in a loop just above where the cable enters the box. This is important for all cables-and-wiring applications.

This loop will allow for a margin of error when stripping wires. Try to drill all the holes in the studs at the same height to run the cable. An electrical contractor charges a lot of money to do the meticulous task. Do it yourself.

electrical wiring

Also, it’s best to keep the hole centered in the stud to prevent finish nails or screws from penetrating the cable.

There are some code variations on just how much cable needs to protrude from the box to work with. Some say 6 inches, while others say 8 inches. If you’re like me, you’ll probably screw up all 8 inches at first and be fishing for the 8-inch loop you put, or should have put just above the box in the wall. The wise electrical contractor plans for errors.

home wiring

Prepping the cables or wiring for the receptacles and switches couldn’t be easier if you have some good wire strippers. You can get these at any electrical supply outlet or even Wal-mart.

You will need to strip about ¾ -inch off the wire and make a bend in the direction that the screw will turn on the receptacle or switch.

Tighten down the screws really well. Most cable and wiring receptacles and switches have insertion fittings or holes on the back to put wires in. This gives more options, but seldom do electricians use the insertion fittings because it crowds the wires inside the box often causing wire connectors to come apart. Every electrical contractor I have ever known uses the screws on the side of the receptacle.

outlet wiring

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