Brick walls are common in commercial establishments and many residential locations, especially in industrial loft apartments and other vintage structures. Providing electrical power to new fixtures on brick walls is a challenge, but one that you can overcome with some design flexibility and creativity.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Long, sharp probe
- Tape measure
- Power drill with masonry bits
- Electrical conduit
- Conduit hardware
- Conduit pipe cutter
- Conduit pipe bender
- Electrical wiring
- Electrician's fish tape
- Receptacles, outlets and switches
Determine the thickness of the bricks. Older brick buildings are made of bricks of full width, about 2 to 3 inches thick. Newer structures will often use thin brick fascias. Probe through the grout between bricks. If they are not of full thickness, you may be able to drill through the thinner bricks with a masonry bit and fish electrical lines behind the bricks. If fishing electrical lines is impossible, installing surface conduit will be your only option.
Choose a surface conduit material to suit your design and budget. Conduits are metal pipes or channels that house and protect electrical wiring. They are visible on the surface of the wall. Conduit comes in many designs including squared "designer" channels and round pipes. The designer type is usually brown, white, or off-white in colour and can be expensive. Corners, junctions and boxes for designer conduit come in modular forms. Round pipe conduit is silver and inexpensive, and you can create a turn by bending the pipe or using a junction box.
Plan the conduit run. Mark the place on the wall where you want to install a lighting fixture. Measure from this mark back to the supply junction. Find the most efficient route. This measurement will determine roughly the number of feet of conduit pipe or channel needed.
Secure any necessary building permits before continuing with the next steps in the project.
Mount a metal receptacle box on the wall. Use masonry bits to drill anchor holes in the brick. Insert screw anchors in the holes. Screw the box into the anchors.
Measure the first section of conduit pipe, from the wall receptacle box to the first junction on the line. Interrupt long conduit sections with more junction boxes if you want to add more lights or wall outlets. Then continue the run of conduit back to the supply junction box.
Cut the conduit to the correct length for the first section. Connect it to the wall box with the proper clamps and fittings. Secure the conduit to the brick with strap hangers designed for this purpose.
Make a turn when necessary. Do this either by using a modular connector, a four-way junction box, or by bending round pipe using a bending tool.
Add more sections to the run until you reach the supply junction or service box.
Fish the proper electrical wires through the conduit.
Turn the supply power source off. Connect the new wiring to the supply. Install any wall outlets or light fixtures. Cover all junction boxes with box covers. Restore the power.
Tips and warnings
- The hiring of a licensed electrician may be mandatory according to local building safety codes.
- Turn off the power source at the breaker box before connecting wires. If the box is located outside of your work area, place a note on the box so that another person will not accidentally restore the power while you are working.
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