…and by “new”, I mean “was built or updated after electricity became a standard feature”… then you probably take certain things for granted. Like for instance, you come home with your arms full of groceries, you unlock the door, and you switch on a light that illuminates your path safely to the kitchen. You do not come home with your arms full of groceries, unlock the door, and trip over your cat and kick several pairs of shoes across the room because you can’t see anything until you reach a switch halfway across the house.

If you can’t tell, I get the latter experience. But this weekend, that all began to change.

See, the only switch by the front door was for the porch light.

But just like Ariel, I wanted more.

I wanted to be able to switch on a light inside my house the instant I walked in the door. Is that so much to ask? This would normally be a piece of cake to take care of, but my house is a double brick walled beauty. Brick is hard. Brick must be dealt with using big, powerful tools, like angle grinders and frightening looking drills.

Not my piddly $30 Harbor Fart drill. After considering our options (one being a low-voltage impulse relay system- basically running teeny wires discreetly next to the trim, that when switched, tell the bigger wires to turn on the lights) we (and I use the term “we” loosely) decided to dig a trench in the plaster and brick, lay some conduit in there, and thread solid wires through there (not romex, because romex is big and our conduit was only like an inch around or something).

is bigger than

Since I wanted four switches- one for the dining room chandelier, one for the living room, one for the porch light, and one for a switched exterior outlet (for Christmas lights, hence the switch, but also for other yard tools) there was just not enough space to run all that romex. I do not really understand how it works, but somehow, you can get away with using the little single wires rather than the triple-wired romex for each switch. I just nod my head.

Manly Stanley used a turquoise colored pencil to draw where we should dig the trench. He’s so artistic.

Then, we trenched that SOB. We trenched it good.

The jolt at :06 was when a large number of sparks flew onto my hand. Ouchie. You can see that we’d do some grinding, then some chiseling. Not the first time I’ve chiseled some stuff.

Here it is, ready for conduit:

Side note: Did you spot the conduit that’s already there? (If not, are you blind?) We had a brief moment of excitement that we could possibly use that instead of trenching for some new stuff, but alas we could not get the old wires out. Ah well.

Here’s Stan’s dad, feeding the pretty blue new conduit up into the attic:

We color-coded the wires before fishing them up through the conduit.

It’s… beautiful!

Next up was hiding the conduit, using some Fix-All and some plain ol’ brick mortar, since we’d knocked about one too many bricks loose and wanted to provide a little more structural support.

Here’s Stan hiding the evidence:

And here’s how it looks right at this very moment:

That’s some intense mortar, huh? Hey, we didn’t want the wall to collapse. And no one should be needing to fuss around with the 4-gang box anytime soon- the conduit offers the flexibility to fish wires in and out if need be.

All that’s left to do now is patch and finish the mess, hook up the switches, and do some more stuff in the attic (I am usually not very involved in that part, so I’m not sure exactly what.) Then, my friends, I can walk in the house and flip on a switch to illuminate my way straight to the fridge. Mmm… leftover Indian food.

Once we had all the conduit buried and the wires run, I turned to Stan and said “It’s sick to think how easy this would have been if we were dealing with sheetrock, isn’t it?” Seriously, the three of us spent about 4 hours on this. If it were a sheetrock wall, it would have taken… oh, ten minutes? But ah, the joys of living in an old house.