Electrical installation – tedious tasks

There are a lot of decisions to make during a deep energy retrofit. It seems that all of them affect the energy performance one way or another and it is not always easy to strike the right balance.

In the last post I described the option of a service cavity or core, which would result in a better insulation integrity. Yet, we decided against it, trying to strike the right balance among competing interests.

With no service cavity, the electrical conduit installation in the perimeter walls becomes more elaborate. We have to drill through the studs for the conduit runs and fit them into the rockwool insulation. It gets really tedious where we have to get the conduits around wall corners.

As my conduit bending and installation skills grew thanks to Percy’s instructions, I became more confident and really wanted to take on this challenge. Plus, I thought my time is better spent on this then Percy’s, who already has taken quite some time teaching me.


Some readers may argue that Chicago’s code requirement to use electrical metal tubing (EMT) conduit is tedious in itself – forget about the wall corners!

So what would be the simpler version? Some building codes allow for the installation of a Romex type wire without the need for conduits.

See also: Fine Homebuilding – 9 Common Wiring Mistakes and Code Violations

Initially, I shared the opinion that Chicago’s EMT requirement was tedious. But I had plenty of time to think about it, while weaving conduit through wall corners.

The use of EMT conduit gives us flexibility. We can change, repair, upgrade or downgrade a wire without opening up a walls. All we need to do is to pull the old wire from the conduit and with ease add the new wire. That alone sold me on the conduit.

The EMT also acts as the grounding mechanism. I learned from Percy that it is called mechanical grounding. Because everything in the system is metallic, the conduit, the gang boxes, the couplings, the connectors, etc., it can carry a grounding load. That eliminates the need for a grounding wire.

Well, there is one exception. One panel in the basement has a dedicated grounding wire that is connected to the copper water main. This one short grounding wire closes the circle.

So, tedious? The conduits, not so much. Weaving them around the corners? Maybe. But I still had fun.

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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