Roughing in Electric Wiring
The Steps Involved in Electrical Rough-in
By Mark J. Donovan
Roughing in electric wiring is the
process of attaching electrical boxes to the framing and running electrical wire
between them and the main circuit panel. Roughing electrical wiring should be
based upon your architectural plans for the home. There should be a page or
pages in the architectural plans that specify exactly where each light switch,
outlet, and light fixture is supposed to go. The electrical wiring plans should
also specify the wire gauge that should be used and where Ground Fault Circuit
Interrupters (GFCIs) are required.
The wire gauge required for each
circuit is dependent upon the expect load on the circuit. For example, a family
room or living room typically only requires a 15 Amp circuit breaker that does
not need to be on a GFCI circuit breaker. This is due to the fact that a living
room or family room typically has only lights or consumer electronics for
electrical loads on the circuits. On the other hand a kitchen typically requires
20 Amp circuits that are on a GFCI circuit breaker. The reason for this is that
typically higher current draw appliances such as toaster ovens, mixers, and
blenders are used in kitchen counter outlets. The GFCI is required is due to the
proximity of water.
When roughing in electric you often
hear terms such as Amps, Volts, and Watts. All of these terms have something to
do with effectively how much electrical power is provided to your home and the
circuits within it. More specifically “Amps” is a measure of current flowing
through an electrical circuit, “volts” is a measure of the difference in
potential energy between two points, and “watts” is a measure of power required
by an electrical load such as a light bulb or appliance. Most lights and
consumer electronics can operate off of a 15 Amp 120V rated circuit breaker.
Larger appliances such as a clothes dryer, however, typically run of a 30 Amp
240V rated circuit breaker. Also, large appliances such as stoves, dishwashers,
refrigerators, dryers, and washing machines, typically run off of their own
separate circuit breakers.
|During the electrical wiring rough-in, Romex cable
electrical wire is run from the main circuit panel to the various circuits
as specified in the plans. On average there is usually between 20 to 40
electrical circuits in each home. For example, there may be a dedicated
Romex cable running between the main circuit panel and a living room. In the
living room there may be a dozen electrical boxes (outlets, switches, and
light fixtures) that are effectively all tied together back to the main
Romex cable that is fed up from the main circuit panel.
Photo By Mark Donovan
Combined, all of these tied together electrical boxes represent a single
circuit. Note, all gang type electrical boxes should be blocked in with framing
to ensure they will not flex when a power cord or appliance is plugged into
Rough in electrical wiring is complete when all of the circuits have been run
from the main circuit panel to the various circuits within the home. The Romex
cables feeding each electrical box are typically pushed into the boxes and left
un-stripped and unconnected to actual switches and outlets. Likewise, back at
the main circuit panel the wires are left loosely hanging. After an inspection
by the local building inspector of the rough wiring, and the insulation and
drywall have been installed the electrician will then return and complete the
finish wiring. As part of the finish wiring process he will tie all of the wires
at the main circuit panel into the box with the appropriate circuit breakers,
attach the electrical outlets and switches, mount light fixtures, and tie in the
large appliances to their respective circuits.
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