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More Electrical Work + Rain?!?!?

And that's what led wmtrainguy and myself to pack up and flee inside from a thunderstorm just after 6 pm on Sunday. He had come by to help me with turning the previously cut off electrical wire (to the outside light pole) into a usable and useful rain-protected outlet. It's turned out pretty well even if we didn't finish.

We already had wire to the outside and had snipped the wire where it left the house. So we opened the PVC elbow to the conduit and pulled down several ceiling tiles to figure out what to do next. To get the extra length we needed out front, we added a junction box in my downstairs ceiling (and some extra indoor wire) so we could pull the exterior grade wire further out through the hole. Fishing another wire through there would have been impossible, even if we had tried to connect them together. It was tough enough pulling on a single wire.

The toughest part was when we had to remove the downstairs closet shelf and ceiling to figure out what was holding the wire behind it. The angle was awkward, there was a lot of stuff to be moved first, and the ceiling was nailed in with those tough-to-remove headless brads. Eventually we just removed enough brads and loosened enough of the wood glue to reach over the wall and knock it down from above using a hammer. We couldn't even swing it, just poke. Once the ceiling was down, we discovered two tightly latched staples holding the wire in place. Removing them and having better access to the hole to the outside really helped.

One quick trip to Home Depot later for some PVC conduit pieces and we were in business on the outside fixtures. The original was an elbow into a pipe down into the earth. We trimmed the straight pipe as a connector, but found a flexible PVC pipe we could use to deal with the fact that the wire came out of the house through siding but we were nailing the outlet box onto the concrete below it. That led to using this job's Right Tool for the Job award: the black powder nail gun. Load nail into chamber, load powder cartridge into chamber, aim the gun in place, strike the back end with a hammer to fire it. From experience, I will always reaffirm how the right tool makes any job easier.

So with some PVC cement attaching the pipe pieces together and a corner fitting for connecting the PVC to the metal box, it got siliconed up for sealant and we fed the wire through. We spent a fair bit of time trying to make sure we didn't need to do anything too strange for PVC-to-metal mounting, but since we're doing electrical work not plumbing we had more options. It took some serious finagling to get the wire through. But that was done as we heard thunder in the distance and it got noticeably darker. wmtrainguy finished mounting the outlet as I hurriedly packed and brought things inside the front door. The switch to that outlet inside is still off, so no big deal. I covered the box with a plastic bag to prevent the worst of the rain from getting in. Plus, the outlet is just outside our front door and in the lee of the front-door eave so it is somewhat protected already.

Last steps that remain:
  • Get new outlet cover: Current one has a broken gasket and is ... umm ... made for "landscape" not "portrait" use. How 'bout those technical terms?

  • Attach outlet cover

  • Replace old cracked putty around elbow where it comes out of the siding.

Phew. A busy afternoon, but afterwards the we cracked open a bottle of wine, then took our party of 4 and a half over to the Bowman for dinner and stuffed ourselves. Good stuff. This, when done, will make it a lot easier to do anything out front that requires an outlet, like trimming the bushes or using the electric mower. Tuesday the landscapers come to replace the big excavation in my backyard with some fresh topsoil and grass.

- Pookah

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January 2011
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