Kitchen Wiring Revisited
Folks that stop over often ask what I diyed in my kitchen (though still not complete and, yep, still lightly photographed). I always say, “Well, actually … not that much.” I mean – the way I see it, I really didn’t do a lot of the high-profile and easily braggable … elements.
Sure I came up with the rough outline for the layout, including the door style for the cabinets, but I didn’t install those cabinets or the countertop; I didn’t install the backsplash; and I didn’t even finish the passthrough or set the window seat. Rather, I handled some of the less glamorous things: I installed a new window, I repaired an old window, I re-routed radiant heating pipes, installed kick spaces heaters, set the appliances, hooked up the finish plumbing and I did most of the electric (rough and finish).
I did most of the wiring before we moved in, across numerous weekends, some seven years ago. (And boy, I know now I could have been a lot neater.)
While we decided to utilize a space that had not previously been used as a kitchen, that work would still be considered old work. In other words, because we decided to keep and paint existing pine paneling, I had to fish wire here and there, back and forth, up and down, across runs much longer than point A to B … just to make it all work, and work to code. (Okay, yes, I did get advice and help from some pros I know on many of the codes associated with this and other electrical work – some covered recently.)
Why is all that important to this story?
Well, you see, because I did the wiring over time and because I ran wires up and down, back and forth – longer at least than I would have if I had the walls open, there was a lot of opportunity to get lost. Sure I labeled wires (at intervals and at the ends, with a Sharpie), but still – when everything was said and done and when I powered up, one of my small appliance circuits wasn’t working … as it should (Read: without full GFI protection). Yep, so … in full monster truck voice, I had to troubleshoot … oot … oot ….
And how did I troubleshoot?
Well after ruling out the obvious, I jumped to the assumption that maybe I had something tied in incorrectly, a line and a load reversed. But how, since I had already removed most of my labeling at my connections, would I figure out which wires were which? Well (*hanging head*), fast and sleazy, of course – and okay, maybe I cheated a little.
Using a process of elimination, I clipped one of the wires that I knew was on that circuit. This worked and I eventually got everything … grounded. I mean – I knew as long as I put that splice inside a junction box, and if that box would then remain accessible, I’d be good to go and to code.
Installing a Junction Box
While I know of no code restriction that would have required me to use metal, and further anything more than what they call a handy box, I happened to have an abundance of “round” metal boxes with covers on hand … so here, I used one.
One benefit though of using a metal box, and when lacking a ground screw as I did here – you can ground by connecting a ground wire right to the box (Read: right to one of cover screws or better – right to the cover itself).
Since I could tuck it neatly into a joist bay, mounting my metal box was not an issue. Many round (though they are actually more octagonal) boxes are fitted with knockouts, which are then filled with either metal cable clamps or plastic/nylon “hit lock” cable connectors. Again, only because I had an abundance, I would use the 3/8″ hit lock style.
Oh, if you were wondering, the associated breaker was switched off as I worked.
1) Remove the Box’s Knockout
Removing the knockout was as easy as laying the box on the floor, on its side, tapping a hammer to a flat head screwdriver and twisting the knockout … flap out with my Klein Tools Side Cutting Pliers.
2) Mount the Junction Box
I then used two gray-coat exterior screws to mount the box flush with the joist face.
3) Set the Wires in the Box and Strip Wire Insulation
Because my wire was already stripped, and because I was only now putting these wires inside the junction box, I placed a hit lock connector on the cable (ensuring that it was both facing the correct way and that it was set approximately at the right position). I then fed the wire through the knockout, and lightly tapped (with a hammer) the hit lock into its final resting place.
4) Ground Wiring & Make Connections
Because I couldn’t find a #12 ground screw in any of my (flippin’) supplies, I pig-tailed a ground wire off of the box’s cover screw. I then connected my wires (ground, white & black) using wire nuts. To do this, I again incorporate my Klein Tools Side Cutters, and use the exact method I describe in the post – How to Install a Wire Nut.
5) Install Cover & Repower the Circuit
After this, all I had to do was install the cover, flip the breaker back on, and we were back in business. (Both steps are depicted below.)
More on Klein Tools 9 in. Side Cutting Pliers
According to Klein Tools, “Loyally known as ‘Kleins,’ these pliers made from custom, U.S. tool steel combine precision with durability. The high-leverage design and unique rivet placement creates 46 percent greater cutting and gripping power over other plier designs. A hot riveted joint ensures smooth action and no hand wobble, while hand-form handles enable full gripping and cutting power.”
Translation – These pliers, while not only essential to my electrical work, are comfortable and smooth … working without fail.
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Thanks all for reading and enjoy! ~jb
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