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How to Pull Wire in a Residential Setting

How to Pull Wire in a Residential Setting (NMD90 in Wood Frame Studs)

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This article is from my roughing-in series for electricians.

Today we will discuss how to pull wire and staple wires in a wood frame setting with residential wire.

A wood frame setting is often referred to as a residential setting because you are using NMD90 (Loomex) wire. A commercial setting often uses Armored Cable (BX90), or has a lot of EMT Conduit (Electrical Metallic Tubing).

This is a GENERAL statement, and not always true, as some commercial builds are made of wood, but most commercial buildings either use concrete, cinder blocks/bricks, or METAL studs.

How to Pull NMD90 Wire in a Home (Residential Setting)

What We Cover in this Article:

  • Electrician Tools for Pulling Wire
  • Labelling on Both Ends of the Wire
  • Pulling Wire through Studs
  • Always Leave a Wire Service Loop at the Electrical Box!
  • Stapling Wires (Quick Overview)

Electrician Tools for Pulling Wire

In the electrical rough-in stage, we there are various roughing-in steps.

Each stage requires! a different set of tools.

Here’s some quick pictures of the tools for pulling wire as an electrician (wood frame setting):

Angled Sidecutters for Roughing-In and Removing Wire Staples
View my favorite sidecutters for electricians.
A medium weight hammer is ideal for hitting wire staples in
I suggest a medium-weight hammer for hitting wire staples in.
Also, I always placed my hammer in my coverall side pocket!
Metal Wire Staple with Two Mini Nails
Metal wire staple.. (These are really hard to find nowadays)..
The plastic equivalent are also quite good, too!

MY FAVORITE TOOLS: Tools for Apprentice Electricians


Labelling on Both Ends of the Wire

The most important thing about pulling wire is LABELLING.

If the wire is not identified with a label, you will have no idea what wire is which! (You also have to think of the NEXT person.. as you may not be the one splicing wires after).

A wire must be labelled ON BOTH ENDS.

This means you label the loose end, AND the spool of wire, so when you come back to cut the wire, you know which wire belongs to which spool.

Pro-Tip – Remove the old label on the wire spool and replace it with your new label BEFORE pulling more wire!

An example of a label on a wire spool for a plug
This wire spool has the label: “Plug”
Cross this label off with a sharpie, then relabel with “switch” if that’s your next wire pull.
In a commercial environment, you will have circuit numbers, like 8, instead of “plug” for example!

Give Space on Your Wire Labels

label-wire-high-to-prevent-relabel
Notice “Plug” is labelled high on the wire.
You can see I’m crossing out the label at the beginning of the wire..
Remember, this will just get cut off, and is a waste of time!

LABEL AT LEAST 12″-18″ INCHES UP THE WIRE!

If wires are labelled too close to the end, it gets REMOVED while cutting-in wires.

With residential NMD90 wire, we first remove the wire jacket before we can work with the single conductors.

The trick here is to label 12-18″ inches up the wire, SO THAT YOU STILL HAVE THE LABEL WHEN THE WIRES ARE ENTERED INTO THE BOX!

This is a PRO-TIP because when you work with multiple electricians, you are often having to re-label 2-3 times PER WIRE PULLED… simply because they didn’t think ahead!

You must train yourself to remember these two things when pulling residential wire (Recap):

  • Label BOTH ENDS of the wire (and remove the old label on the wire spool before you pull new wire)
  • Label up higher than you think, so you don’t have to keep relabeling over and over! (This goes for both residential and commercial wire!)

Pulling Wire Through Studs

After drilling holes for wire into the studs, the next step is pulling your wire!

That’s a joke you’ll never stop hearing on the jobsite..

Hey Sparky! Pulling your wire, eh?

Any construction worker other than an electrician 😂

Anyways, the pulling process is pretty straight-forward, and your speed increases with time.

Pulling Electrical Wires Through the Top Plate of a Woodframed Wall
Pulling Electrical Wires Through the Top Plate of a Woodframed Wall

When first starting, your journeyman may start you off with EXTRA-LOW-VOLTAGE wires (like internet, coax, or fiber). This is to train you to get up to speed.

However, once you start pulling branch circuitry and home runs, you will often be pulling 2-3 wires at a time. So that’s why labelling is super important!

When pulling wire through studs, you can use one hand over the other through each stud for a fast workflow (like shown in the video above!)


Always Leave a Wire Service Loop at the Electrical Box!

Wire service loop at electrical box
A Wire Service Loop (Example)

I can’t tell you how important leaving a service loop is!

Very often homeowners or do-it-yourself handymen create tutorials showing how to do electrical. This is very dangerous to watch to learn to become an electrician, as you’ll learn bad practices, and they are actually not even certified to do electrical!

You know you need a permit to do electrical work for a customer, right? (Your company will be pulling this permit on your behalf if you’re working for an employer! Handymen are not allowed to pull an electrical permit!!)

A service loop is so important because things happen on a jobsite.

If you take the mindset of “Nothing will happen”, you are going to get yourself into a very hard (or expensive) situation later-on in your electrical career.

Leaving a simple service loop is the EASIEST WAY to give you that extra advantage out there..

Wire service loop (leaving extra wire at a box in case wires gets damaged)
Another example of a wire service loop, as if it were installed in the box.

Here’s some problems you can run into, where a SERVICE LOOP helps so much:


Stapling Wires (Quick Overview)

The final step of pulling wire is stapling.

The golden rule is this when stapling wires:

Electrician’s staple wire BACK.. AFTER they have pulled the wire to the destination.

Before you staple, make sure your wire is long enough, and it made its path successfully (that the wire isn’t sticking out of the wall because you forgot to go into a stud!)

If you pull multiple wires at once, when you can staple multiple wires on your way back, which improves efficiency!


CONCLUSION: How to Pull Wire in a Home, Condo, Apartment (Wood Frame Setting – Residential)

Typically we use NMD90 is a wood frame setting, which is most often a home, condo, or apartment.

After you drill holes for wire, we then pull our wire!

Always make sure you staple your wire back for a clean look, and improved efficiency.

That’s it!

Be sure to read all the other roughing-in series tutorials!

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