Electricity: Fishing Cable


A plumber’s chain and plumb bob work together to establish a vertical path between two points. Once the chain has found the path from point A to point B, the cable is secured to one end and pulled to its final destination.

A fish tape, made of stiff springy metal, can be pushed through insulation, fed through a wall or joist cavity or used to snag a chain or second fish tape.

Fishing cable is a task that frequently arises during the course of remodeling or adding on. In some cases you only need to run new wire a few feet, but in other cases you may need to run a new cable from the circuit box in the basement to the new light you’re installing in the attic. Regardless of the distance, remember these key points:

•Plan the easiest route, not the most direct route. A winding route that requires an extra 50 ft. of cable is better than a direct route that means more cutting and patching.

•Whenever possible, run cable through unfinished spaces. Crawl spaces, unfinished basements and attics let you run cable with the least hassle.

•Avoid running cable through exterior walls where insulation makes the task more difficult.

• Avoid cutting textured ceilings or walls. Patching and matching those surfaces can be difficult. Instead, cut into areas inside closets, near the floor or in spots hid den by furniture.


Above: Loop one wire from the cable through chain (cut off extra wires). Tightly wrap entire connection with electrical tape, beginning on the chain and ending on the cable.

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Home Run

Fishing cable is the art of running cable from one place to another with minimal cutting into walls and ceilings. The more you cut, the more patching, painting and carpentry you need to do later. The key? Plan the easiest route, not the most direct route. One good option is along the vent stack, as shown above.

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Through Offset Walls

Through Offset Walls

To create a path between offset walls, begin by cut ting two small access holes and chilling holes at a steep angle through the 2x4 plates. At the lower wall, you’ll also have to cut a notch into the plate so the cable can pass down into the wall cavity. Feed a plumber’s chain into the joist cavity from above and hook the chain from below using a coat hanger or fish tape. After pulling the cable, install steel protector plates (see below).

Behind Baseboard

Remove the baseboard and cut access holes at each stud, making sure you don’t cut any higher than the height of the baseboard. Using a chisel, cut a notch into the base of each stud just deep enough for a plastic staple. Feed the cable through the notches, staple the cable at each stud and cover the notch with a metal protector plate.

Last modified: Saturday, 2007-11-03 1:17 PST