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4 Things Electrician School Students Should Know About Roughing In Electrical Wiring

February 04, 2020

electrician career in construction

If you want to become an electrician, this is a tool you’ll definitely want under your belt.

Roughing in electrical wiring is something any construction electrician will want to get right, regardless of which part of a house they’re working on. After the framing and initial wiring has been done, you’ll want to make sure the rough-in — the part of the process where the cables are pulled through framing members and studs before going into boxes — is completed before ceilings and walls are closed.

There’s an art to doing it the right way, and any aspiring electrician can do well to keep a few tips in mind. Here are some tips for getting roughing in electrical wiring right if you’re studying to become an electrician.

Before Pulling Wires, Be Sure to Straighten Them Out

Straightening out wires will make the process of pulling cables through holes much easier. To do this, straighten the cable between your forefinger and thumb while you’re walking along its length.

After pulling it through the holes, push it back so that there’s still some slack, just in case the cable gets cut too short and more length is necessary. Also, make sure cable protection plates are installed before pulling anything, and that they are drilled close to the edge of a stud. They will need to be set back at least 1 to 1 ¼ inches away from the edge of a wood-framing part.

Make sure the cable is pushed back after pulling it through holes to leave a bit of slack
Make sure the cable is pushed back after pulling it through holes to leave a bit of slack

Picking the Right Electrical Box Will Go a Long Way

During your electrician career in construction, you will have a choice of electrical boxes to use for different projects.The most common ones are made of fiberglass or plastic.

Depending on the size of the wire gauge, they can be used for large appliances, living spaces, bathrooms or kitchens. Plastic boxes are typically less expensive than fiberglass models, although they aren’t as tough.

Be sure to pick a box with a minimum volume of 20 cubic inches. Larger boxes will make the wiring process easier, so you should pick one large in size that is made with the right materials for the project.

If you’re working on a ceiling fan, you’ll need a special type of electrical box attached with a brace, so that it can make the fan more stable and absorb its vibrations.

Make Sure All Holes are Well-Aligned and Straight When Drilling

You’ll want to be sure that holes are straight and symmetrical in height, so that pulling cables is as easy as possible. If they are pulled at varying heights or angles, it can cause cables to snag on sharper edges.

Once ¾ inch holes are pierced into the framing members above the boxes, centre the part on the stud before bracing the drill. Use your thigh to put pressure on it to make drilling the studs easier.

Ensure the holes are consistently kept at the same height, so that you can more easily fish cable through. You’ll be able to pull cables and drill holes once all boxes are nailed correctly.

When drilling holes, be sure that they are straight and equal to each other in height
When drilling holes, be sure that they are straight and equal to each other in height

After Electrician School, Don’t Over-Bend Any Cables

While bending cables, make sure they are not bent at more than a radius of 2½ inches. You can avoid over-bending them if you drill holes at a range of 8 to 12 inches above or below boxes, so that the cable can go upwards or downwards into them.

This is important for students at electrician school to remember, because the conductors and sheathing can be weakened if the cable is bent incorrectly or too sharply, resulting in a fire hazard.

In any case, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to be as gentle as possible when wiring, to avoid damaging the conductors, as they will carry the electricity. Conductors are also vulnerable to stress and fatigue from overbending, or bends that are too sharp.

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