Rewiring the basement

That title sounds a little drastic, don’t you think? Did it pique your interest? Ok, well we didn’t rewire the entire basement, but we had a couple of projects in the basement recently that required some electrical work. So before I go any further…

Disclaimer: This information given on this site is solely for entertainment purposes and is not a substitute for proper training. Electrical work is complex and can be dangerous if not performed carefully. Always consult an electrician as well as your local laws and codes before performing any electrical work. Hams at Home Blog, its creators, and its authors cannot be held responsible for your safety or any outcomes of performing work following the methods or suggestions on this site. Blah blah blah…

There, now I’ve gotten that out of the way, so let’s begin. As I mentioned in my posts about building our bar shelves, we wanted to put a TV on the top shelf so we could have some background entertainment in the bar.

Bailey the model & a small sneak peak into our theater

There was no outlet there, so I needed to run a new one. First I marked and cut a new hole for an outlet box in the center of the wall to be hidden by the TV.

Cover up those shelves, drywall work is messy

The next step was figuring out what I was going to connect this new outlet to. There are a couple of circuits in the basement and I wanted to tap into one of them. Things to consider:

  • Distance you’d have to run the wire
  • Obstacles in the path taken (such as metal beams you can’t go around)
  • What else is on the circuit.

If you run too many high amperage appliances on one circuit, it’s going to trip. You also may have local codes about number of outlets on a circuit. Finding the right circuit to shut off is always a chore in this house. We’ve found out that the previous owners ran an IT company in the basement and moved circuits around to accommodate servers. They didn’t bother to update the labels in the circuit box, though, so it’s pretty much all wrong. I’m updating it as I go.  I decided to run the connection from an outlet behind in the other section of the basement behind the shelves which we use as our theater.

I flipped about 6 or 7 circuits before finding the right one. Mind you, this was during nap time (because that’s the only time we can get work done), and I shut off Connor’s white noise machine and baby monitor. When I flipped it back on, it switched to the sound of crickets, but luckily didn’t wake him. It actually made me think of an interesting “hack” when trying to find a circuit. Carolyn and I usually talk on the phone and she waits in the room watching the outlet tester while I flip switches. Then she tells me when it goes out. If I was alone at the time though, I could plug the baby monitor base station into the outlet I want to shut off and start flipping away. If I lose connection, I found the right one!

The outlet in the bottom-right is the source where I connected, and the wall to the left of that is the back-side of the shelves. I had to run a new wire up from the outlet, across the ceiling, and then down the wall on the left to a new electrical box. Drop ceilings don’t look great, but when it comes to DIY work, they sure do make life easy. I had to fish the wire down to the outlet from the top to make my new connection.

Fished and ready to pull through

Next I had to run the wire down the wall where the outlet was going to be. There was a surprise header in there a foot or so below the top of the drywall that I wasn’t expecting so I needed to drill a hole through it for the wire. Luckily since the outlet was so high up, I could drill upward though the new outlet hole with my drill bit extender. Otherwise I would have needed to go through the drywall and patch it up later. Unfortunately that meant I had to remove the top shelf. (Carolyn interjection:  This is why I always prefer to do this type of work first!!)

drilling the header

Using the drill extender to get through the header

Once that was done I just had to push the wire down through the hole and pull it through my new outlet hole. Then I put in a new work box and wired up our outlet. We chose to use an outlet with two USB ports so that we could charge our phones, and the Chromecast could also plug into the USB. It never hurts to have more ports and flexibility.

Interesting story.  We’re big Amazon Prime people (who isn’t??), but we’re also big Lowe’s people.  We were at Lowe’s getting supplies and we picked up this outlet.  It was $24.98.  Definitely not cheap.  But sometimes we like to splurge for convenience sake and things that make our lives easier.  We got home that day and were working on some things while Connor napped.  Carolyn got an email about Amazon Echo updates, aka Alexa, which listed out some deals that you could only order from Alexa (did I mention we’re big Amazon Prime people?).  Anyway, one of the top items on the list was the Leviton outlet with two USB ports.  For $16.  $9 cheaper than what we paid for it at Lowe’s.  Immediately, she said “Alexa, order the Leviton USB Port outlet”.  Ta-da, it showed up on our doorstep two days later.  Thank you Amazon!  Now all we had to do was remember to actually return the other one to Lowe’s.  Anyone else terrible about returning things?  Moral of the story.  We usually shop around.  Sometimes we don’t and end up regretting it.  Shopping around is always worth it.

Wiring for this outlet is different than a standard outlet

We’ll paint over that mark the drill made later

All finished

Another project in the basement was wiring up the projector for our theater. I already had a mount that I used in our Maryland house. This time we were mounting it to come out of a drop ceiling. It could probably be mounted with just two screws directly to a ceiling joist, but for more stability I added a cross-beam to connect with some spare wood. The cross-beam also allowed me to mount the projector so that the pole would come out of the center of a tile, because it would bother me if it was off. This was probably the hardest part of this (mini) project to be honest. I measured like four times to be sure.

Ignore the armpit hole in my work clothes…

Next I had to run a connection from the box nearby and install a new outlet box for the projector. By the way, this smoke detector is installed incorrectly. It should be attached on the bottom side of the ceiling tile. Where it is in the picture, it would take a long time to actually set off the alarm if there were a fire.  I’m sure it was installed there before they finished off the basement, and someone must have been too lazy not to move it. We have since installed a new smoke/carbon monoxide alarm (correctly, of course).

outlet and projector

The new outlet on the left

After testing and putting the cover on the outlet, I had to drill a hole in the ceiling tile for the projector mount to come through.  I drilled it out with the smallest hole saw that would fit the pole and crossed my fingers I had measured right.

Phew! It fits!

It fit perfectly, and it’s a good thing because I had someone spying on me to make sure I didn’t screw up. I thought that I was going to have to make another hole in the ceiling for the plug to come through, but it actually fit inside the pole. It was a very tight fit, but I jammed it through and then pushed the HDMI connection through after. When we figure out how we want to set up the front of the theater where all the equipment will be, I’ll probably run an HDMI cable to the back. For now I’m using a wireless HDMI transmitter that we used in our South Carolina house. It’s sitting up on top of the ceiling tile. It works really well, but sometimes it has issues connecting when we first turn everything on, so a hard-wired connection would really be better.

We’re excited to finish the theater up a bit more and tell you all about it!  This is our first time ever having a basement and we love it!

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1 Comment

  1. Sharon Rumans

    Love the disclaimer! Sounds like the home of a DuPonter

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