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Wiring and Design

My two-story townhouse was never really designed to make running new wire runs very easy. I live in the eastern part of North Carolina where basements are pretty rare. The foundation is on a cement slab, so that means there is no crawl space either. That means running wires on the first floor of the house is a huge pain. I do however have an attic, so running wires on the second floor is not that big of a problem. That being said, there are certain parts of my home automation system that I knew I had to use a hardwire setup in order to attain the results I wanted for the whole-house audio and security system. The last thing I wanted to do was knock down all of my drywall, drill through all the studs, run the wire runs, replace the drywall, and then repaint the entire downstairs. So I was on a mission to find a simpler way of doing this.

Now, I warn you I am not a pro at home renovations -- everything I know has come from watching HGTV and researching the internet. So I'm sure I've probably done things that a professional normally would not have done, but as long as it works, is reasonably safe, and looks pretty decent, I'm happy.

 

One day while pondering about how to run the speaker wire and motion detectors, I happened to think about the crown molding. My entire house came with fairly-large crown molding that surrounds the top part of the ceiling on both the top and bottom floors. Upon closer examination of the molding, I realized that there just might be a cavity big enough to use it as a wire channel. I pried a corner piece off near the stairs to check and sure enough there is plenty of room behind it.

Right image: Section of molding removed to show cavity size

 

Now, I thought about prying the molding off, running the wire, and then placing it back up on the ceiling, but I was too worried about running a nail through a wire. I would probably never be able to figure out where the nail penetrated the wire unless I pulled all of the molding back off the ceiling again to check. So in order to avoid this, I decided I would run the wire with the crown molding in place. This was a challenge since my house has some very odd-shaped walls and I knew that running a wire snake around these corners was going to be nearly impossible.


Left image: Input from a different room into the crown molding channel


 

The solution was to take a hack saw and very carefully saw off every corner piece downstairs. This would allow the wire snake to be in a straight line for every run. Once I pulled the wire through one straight section of molding, I would re-thread the snake and run the next section. Then once I ran the wire I would just put the pieces right back in there place with some wood putty, sand it over, and then paint it.

Right image: Corner piece removed in order to wire the motion detector for the security system

The process was pretty straight forward except when I got caught on some pesky nails. After some finagling of the wire snake, I was always able to get around them somehow. I ended up running four wires pretty much around the entire downstairs of the house this way.

 

After I placed the pieces back, sanded the wood putty, and painted the trim to match again, I have to say it turned out better than expected. I was able to get all of the wire runs I wanted and I didn't have to destroy my house in the process. I do plan on cutting the wires where they input into the crown molding when I move so there will be no question as to my wiring methods when I sell the house in the future.

Left image: Finished result after all corner pieces were replaced, sanded, and painted.
 



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