Continuing on from Part 1 of the Office Upgrade, the next item on the agenda is…
Electrical outlet near to the projector
The projector is now mounted in the wardrobe of our office. I knew I would need a power socket and a pattress to complete the job, and a junction box along the way too. This being the first time I would ever actually interfere with a domestic mains system, I thought it wise to do some homework first. I was going to have to switch off the circuit I wanted to modify – that’s easy, just a trip switch at the Consumer Unit (CU / fuse box), but I wanted to know more about earthing and the system in general. Some research: DIYWiki Electrical Topics.
With this new bouquet of knowledge, the plan was clearer. Remembering that there was a retrofitted mains outlet in the attic, I launched an investigation to see how this could be extended south to the office. As it happened, a socket in the master bedroom was supplying this attic outlet along with the house alarm system – this was clearly visible since whatever electrician did the job did not attempt to conceal his work. Was the house alarm going to pose some sort of threat to my plan? Time to test!
The labeling is not clear on our CU, so trial and error was the approach taken to identify each of the circuits. Using an extension lead, I fed power to a lamp from one of the sockets in the master bedroom. I placed the lamp where I could see it from the CU, and I switched, and switched, and switched again until the lamp went off. The control panel for the alarm system decided to chime in at this point to let me know it had lost it’s mains. Grand. Power it back up and off to the shops!
I visited the local hardware store – big shoutout to Lennehan’s at the top of Rathmines – and purchased:
- A 4-way Junction Box (though I only needed 3-way)
- 13A Switched Socket
- Square pattress 16mm deep
- Length of Mains Cable
With materials in hand, it was time to get down to action.
Drill a hole for the mains into the office
This cutout was used to drill into the plasterboard ceiling below, and ultimately to pass a mains cable through.
I attempted to lift one of the sheets of chipboard flooring in the attic to expose the plasterboard ceiling of the office. This did not work – over years the chipboard had expanded and the nails were deeply embedded in them, and rusty too, so fell apart when attacked aggressively by me. Trying to be respectful to the house owners, I neatly drilled out a square of the chipboard at it’s edge, and a smaller hole through the plasterboard into the office.
There is a false ceiling in the wardrobe itself, so yet another hole was needed. Since this had to be precisely located, I drilled this from the office below. This located me close, but not directly under where the previous holes were. Oh the fun that awaited us…
With disfigured wire hangers in hand, my other half and I staked out for about an hour developing the necessary communication and motor skills to hook our two bits of hanger together. When we finally succeeded, the electrical cable was taped on for dear life and began it’s S-shaped journey through the cavities of our abode. Perhaps it’s just bad memory, but I think we had to do everything twice because we failed at one point or another the first time. When completed, we did walk away very satisfied!
Install the Pattress
With the cable now hanging down into the office, next up was preparing the patress. I attempted to drill a hole in the top of it, but a portion of the top instead smashed off – don’t know what I would do differently: perhaps go slower, more gently, try another bit, use my since-acquired table drill… In any case, the smash was not a disaster, it would be closed off from the world, butted up against the false ceiling of the wardrobe.
Placing the cable through the gap, I slid the patress up to the top and it fit snugly enough. I pre-drilled pilot holes in the back wall of the wardrobe through the partess’ own holes, and screwed it on tightly. Done.
Wire the Outlet
Is there much to say here? This was a very standard affair. Once wired, I slid it up to meet the patress while feeding the cable back up into the false ceiling.
Joining it all up
The objective was getting ever closer. I cut the power using the circuit breaker. Tested with a phase tester to ensure I wasn’t going to kill myself, and proceeded to cut the cable running from the junction box installed by the electrician some years before to the house alarm. (I had measured this fairly accurately in the planning phase)
Junction Box wired and fixed on to a rafter in the attic.
I wanted to reroute the cable for tidiness sake behind a gigantic skylight tunnel. I finished with a mail of cobweb, but happy. There was just enough length to mount the junction box where I wanted without setting up an attic full of trip-wire booby-traps.
Finally, I stripped the wires back, secured them in the junction box and fixed the whole thing to a rafter. Done. Time to test.
Flicked the trip switch back on, and how chuffed was I when I saw the lamp I had plugged into the newly installed socket light up? Very bloody happy! It felt like an enormous achievement at the time. We were now able to put a laptop in the wardrobe and watch a movie on our own big screen without unsightly cables drooping out in search of a power source.
Socket with patress at the top of the wardrobe in our office. Mains cable exits the top of the patress straight into the false ceiling above.
The project would have been a complete triumph if it hadn’t been for our house alarm going off 3 nights later at 4:30 a.m. It transpires that the unit already had a bad battery, and my slow work during the induced power cut set us on a collision course for a rude awakening. It was deafening!
Next: Office Upgrade Part 3: Replace Light Fitting