Planning is the biggest part about being an electrician.
Even if you’re not a fast worker, doing the job once is usually faster than having to go back and do the same job twice.
With that said, in this article I am going to cover how to plan your routes before pulling wire, and how to properly communicate with your co-worker so you’re both on the same page.
What We Cover in This Article:
- Figure Out your Game Plan (Homeruns vs. Branch Circuits)
- Plan your Paths Before Drilling Holes and Wasting Time
Figure Out your Game Plan (Homeruns vs. Branch Circuits)
When you’re in the wire-pulling stage of the job, usually you’re divided into groups of two.
From here you should talk with your co-worker and decide:
- Who’s pulling the home runs?
- Who’s pulling the branch circuitry?
What’s the difference between them?
Home runs are what actually provide power to the circuit. They come directly from the panel.
We then splice off the home run to provide power to other devices which are on that same circuit, such as plugs and lights.
Branch circuity jumps off the home run.
In the case of plugs, you’d pull your wire to each plug and splice them accordingly.
With lights, it’s best practice to bring your home run to the light switch, and then jump to each light switch. This makes troubleshooting easier at a later date.
Some circuits, however, get a dedicated home run. This means only that one device is powered from that circuit, and no other devices make use of this home run.
Some typical dedicated home runs in a condo/home would be:
- Kitchen Counter Plugs
(In a residential setting, a lot of these home runs are in the kitchen.)
In a commercial setting, most equipment get their own dedicated home run!
These can vary from motors, heating units, fans, door openers etc.
Circuits that get shared are typically:
- Lighting circuits
- Plug circuits
(Plug and lighting circuits usually don’t share the same circuit, especially now with AFCI breakers in use. But we can have multiple lights on a lighting home run or multiple plugs on a plug home run.)
After deciding who’s going to pull home runs or branch circuitry, you two should decide where the home runs should start. (At what plug or light switch.)
It’s important to plan this out so you only have two wires per plug rather than 3 wires per plug. (It saves time + effort come splice time.)
So who’s pulling what?
Now that you understand home runs vs branch circuity, you’ll now understand why it’s important to figure out who’s pulling what.
A lot of the time your journeyman/boss likes to pull the branch circuitry. This is because branch circuitry requires more knowledge and understanding of how things work. Branch circuitry is also challenging, too, which makes the day go by faster.
Pulling home runs is a bit boring because all you’re doing is pulling a wire from Point A to Point B.
But! – If you’re working with a boss who really wants you to learn, you two will switch up roles on the next suite/home you go to. (One suite you pull home runs, the next suite you pull branch circuitry.)
It makes the days go by better, gives more variety, and you actually learn your trade rather than just pulling wires and not understanding how things work.
Plan your Paths Before Drilling Holes
When working in a wood frame setting, pulling wire is all about speed.
Even if you’re not a fast worker, I promise, you can still keep up, or even be faster than your other co-workers, if you do a bit of planning up front.
So let’s say it’s your turn to pull home runs.
(This means you’ll be drilling out the holes for the home runs.)
It’s important to take a look around the home/condo unit you’re in and browse the prints.
Count all the home runs within the unit so you know how many holes you’ll need to drill.
Typically we can stick two to three 14/2’s in a hole, two to three 12/2’s in a hole (depending on hole size). 10/3 (dryer) gets its own hole, and 8/3 (stove) gets it’s own hole.
You first want to decide where a good path from your electrical panel to most of your home runs will be. This saves major time avoiding going up and down your ladder just to drill one or two holes you missed while pulling wire.
It’s also important to know what you’re allowed to drill through in a wood frame setting.
Once you found an awesome path for your home runs, you can start drilling your holes!
Make sure you follow your path all the way to the device; this includes drilling out the top plate, too! When your pulling wire, you just want to staple your wire back; the less tools the better.
Also, don’t forget to drill the holes above the electrical panel. This is why counting your home runs is really useful. It will give you a general idea of how many holes you need to drill. (It’s really sketchy having to drill another hole when all your other home runs are in their hole already!)
(When I know I’ll be drilling for awhile, I grab ear plugs as the types of drills we use are loud enough to do damage to your hearing after prolonged use.)
What if you’re doing Branch Circuitry?:
It’s pretty much the same idea as home runs, but a little bit more involved.
Let’s say you’re in a bedroom.
You have to think how all the plugs in that room will get power and figure out the lighting.
The biggest thing in your branch circuitry is drilling out enough holes in your top plate so you have enough room in the holes to bring down all your wires.
Typically on studs which have a light switch, a thermostat, and a plug near by are quite busy. So just plan to drill an extra hole or two so you it doesn’t slow you down.
Pre-Drilling Holes + Planning Conclusion
And so that’s pretty much the process of pre-drilling and planning for your home runs and branch circuitry.
It first comes down to communication of who’s pulling what (home runs vs. branch circuitry), figuring out your pathway for your wires, and making sure to drill the right amount of holes the first time to speed you up!
A really awesome tip when pulling home runs is to write all the required home runs you need to pick up on a stud by the panel.
As you complete pulling each home run, you can cross them off as you go.