Tips

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Planning cable runs

House wiring example

If you want to alter or extend your home’s wiring in any way, you will have to decide how you are going to run the cable from A to B – for example, to supply an extra socket outlet wired up as a branch from the existing power socket. The shortest route is obviously the best in terms of economy of cable, but practical considerations have to be taken into account too when you are selecting the best route – you don’t want to demolish a room just for the sake of hiding a new cable.

When a new house is wired up, all the cables concealed behind wall surfaces or under floors before plaster is applied or floorboards are fixed down. Ideally you should also conceal any new wiring you do, since this mean it is out of sight and out of harm’s way. However you may not want to ruin your decorations or lift fitted carpets, so some sort of surface mounting is often a good short-term solution; you can always re-route and conceal the cable in the future, when you next strip the room for redecoration.

If you plan to extend your wiring, your first step is to decide what you want to add and where it is going to be sited. You then need to examine the structure of your house so you can work out the cable route.

Cable runs to wall-mounted accessories such as wall lights, switches and socket outlets are usually taken vertically up or down the wall in channels (called chases) cut in plaster. If necessary, they can also run horizontally, but should never be run diagonally – once concealed, no one would be able to deduce where they ran, and they could be pierced when making wall fixings. In stud partition walls, cables are run in the gaps between the vertical frame timbers.

In houses with timber floors and plasterboard ceilings, cables are run between and across the joists, and can be run in any direction. With solid floors, it is better to route new cables round the perimeter than to cut channels in the floor surface.

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