How to Run Electrical Wire to a Ceiling

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One of the trickier parts of doing your own electrical work is getting the wire from point A to point B. Quite often, there are obstacles in the way and more times than not, a floor or ceiling to pull the wire through. Knowing how to run electrical wire to a ceiling is one of the more important aspects of running an electrical circuit.


For ease of understanding, the instructions here are for running electrical wire from a wall outlet into a ceiling to feed another electrical component, like a ceiling fan or an outlet in the attic.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Paddle bit
  • Drill bit extender
  • Drywall saw
  • Utility knife
  • NM fish wire puller
  • NM cable
  • Eye protection
  • Cut an 8-by-8-inch square out of the drywall where the wall meets the ceiling. Mark the square, and pre-cut it with a utility knife. Then cut it away using the drywall saw.

  • Cut another 8-by-8-inch square in the same manner out of the ceiling directly above the wall cutout. Though these might seem like large drywall patches, you need the room in order for the paddle bit to make it all the way through the wall top plate.

  • Take the drill with the extender and paddle bit, and drill a hole through the wall's top plate. The top plate is comprised of two 2x4s and spans the length of the wall. Because the top plate is so thick, the extender is required for the paddle bit to make it through the back-to-back 2x4s.

  • Feed the NM fish down the wall through the access hole until you are able to pull it out of the access hole that's been cut for the outlet. An NM fish is a non-metallic wire puller. It is a coil of non-metallic cording that you can feed through walls, across ceilings and through confined spaces to make the running of wire much easier.

  • Tape the NM cable (the wire) to the end of the fish, and pull the fish and the accompanying wire from point A to point B.

  • Remove the cable from the fish and push the end of the cable through the hole in the top plate. Now that the electrical wire is in the ceiling, you can head into the attic to pull the amount of wire needed to complete the job up into the ceiling.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never pull live wire. You should only be running wire that is still a part of a spool.
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