Monday, February 10, 2020

DIY Electrical Alternative Workout

I'm in the midst of remodeling my basement. part of this is refreshing some of the electrical including moving a wall switch and installing some recessed lighting using handy LED replacements. The wall switch is part of a four-way switch where the lights at the bottom of my stairs can be operated at the main entry, bottom of the stairs and at the lower back door (walk-out style basement).

Multi-way switches can be a little tricky to figure out. There are different ways you can wire depending on where the power comes in relative to the lights. Fortunately, the internet is good for something besides political rants and I found this handy illustration. : has some handy wiring diagrams

Again, be sure to get the right diagram for your needs and always DO THINGS TO CODE! If you feel at all uncomfortable, hire an electrician.

You can hire a handyman through Amazon now.

The main thing to note is that you need to buy the right switches and the right wire for the job. For a four-way switch you'll need:

As well as some of the basic tools of the trade:

If you are just replacing existing switches and lights, the job is pretty straight forward. Turn off the appropriate circuit breaker. Verify that the power is off and go to unscrewing, fresh stripping and installing the new switches.

Newer installs and making location adjustments take more effort. This is where the workout portion of my DIY weekend comes in. I rerouted the wiring for a switch and replaced greenfield wiring with romex through the conduits. The fishing can take some time and patience. The snug fit also gave my hands and fingers a workout. Indeed, some cursing and sweating occurred as I fed 12 feet of 14-3 and 14-2 down one conduit (there was a tap out to another part of the circuit, else it would have just been the 14-3 and much easier). The friction made the last couple of feet very challenging.

Next was getting everything placed properly. This was a lot of time spent with my hands and arms reaching over my head. I'm glad I didn't re-impinge on a tendon that occasionally gives me trouble, but I did get a good burn. The over head work also left a tired back. Fortunately, a good stretch after ending for the day helped loosen me up again.

I most notice the workout aspect today as my shoulders and neck are quite sore. I also had some trouble sleeping with the immediate stiffness.

In all the job still requires stripping and connecting and testing of the circuit and lighting. I also noticed the old fixtures left the drywall above them very brittle, so some replacing may be in order. I'm hoping to have the remainder of the wiring done this week and have some nice new lights helping me finish the rest of the basement.


  1. Or just forget the switches all together, and say "Alexa, turn on the lights".

    1. That's the next step! Well, it'll be google for me though

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