Your Room Addition: How An Electrician Makes It Happen

When deciding on a room addition, one of the first things you want to consider is your electrical needs. A certified electrician can help you decide whether you need to upgrade your circuit break, how to design the outlet configuration and more importantly, he will know how to get you there and meet code.

A great example is a homeowner who decides to put a two-room addition on the opposite side of the house from the master bedroom. The plan is to re-locate his two growing boys to give them, and him, more privacy.

Choosing the right electrician for this project is one of the more important decision he will make.  The electrician he selects will help with proper planning and execution for the addition. He doesn’t want to flip the switch to turn off the overhead fan and find out that he just turned off the washing machine too.

Not only will the electrician have done these tasks hundreds, if not thousands, of times, he will also be aware of the local code.  If these codes are not followed, inspections will be a nightmare.

Planning Outlets

For a 10 by 15 room with a door, closet and window, the electrician might wire two outlets on the long side of the room, one for each of the other walls, and a light switch to control the overhead light/fan. The outlets will be positioned in such a way that a lamp, stereo, TV, alarm clock will need just a six-foot plug-in cord to reach an outlet.

Based on the expected load, the electrician might wire a single “home run” for the room, an outlet with wiring that will lead back to the main breaker box. However, if the room will have several lights on a dimmer switch and other expected power users in the room, he might wire a second home run for the room. No doubles or triples are planned, and especially no relief pitchers.

Securing To The Stud

Building codes in many areas require the top of the outlet to be 15 inches off the floor. If the wall is an exterior wall, codes often call for a plastic vapor box for the outlet to sit in before securing it to the stud. It is also wise to keep the boxes within 12 feet of each other if on the same wall.

The technician will begin the outlet installation by securing the wires from the main breaker box onto the stud with a staple 8 inches above the outlet, but not penetrate the wires. He will strip some wiring of the outer vinyl coating and insert it into the box, being careful to leave one-fourth inch of insulation still covering the wire as it snakes into the box.

The experienced technician will leave plenty of slack (12 inches or so) before threading the wire into the box. This will allow for the electrician easily to make adjustments the homemaker might wish to make in the future without ripping up too much of the wall board.

The bare wires are secured with a wire nut, then tucked carefully into the receptacle box.  These steps will ensure that when the sheetrock installer cut out a space for the outlet, no wires will be disturbed.

Adding An Additional Outlet For A Night Light

Often after the wiring is complete, the homeowner or spouse would now like to add a small LED night light or similar extra.  This afterthought project is quite common and the electrician is prepared.

He recommends locating the light directly above one of the recently installed outlets. This will allow him to borrow power from the existing outlet and require minimal disturbing of the wall board.

The technician turns off the breaker for the circuit that he will be working on, then locates the stud that the original outlet is attached to.  He carefully outlines in pencil the new outlet box, then uses a box cutter to cut through the wall board leaving the space for the new box to fit through.

Next, the electrician removes the face plate and the plug he is going to borrow the power from. He disconnects the wires and runs them up to the night light box. Once again, he strips covering off the wires and connects the wire to the night light in a similar manner as he did to the plug in – black wire to the brass screw, white wire to the silver screw on the opposite side, and the ground wire to the ground screw.

The electrician secures the night light to the box with the appropriate screws and positions the faceplate over the box. The light now has a clean look with no wires straying outside of the box. Now the electrician returns to the outlet below, the source of power for the light and attaches the wire to the plug in, black to brass, white to silver and ground wire to ground screw. The wires are pushed securely into the box and the face plate secured.

The entire operation now looks pleasing to the eye and the technician is ready to restore power to the circuits.  The LED light glows, providing some low illumination for the night, and the plugs below are perfect for a lamp, alarm clock or for charging electronics.

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