Fishing Electric Wiring

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Forum topic by Matt posted 03-28-2009 08:01 PM 6992 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3366 days

03-28-2009 08:01 PM

This is my last ‘please help’ post for the day, I promise! lol

I am in the middle of renovating the shop (yeah, yeah, I say it in every post) and I am going to start making preparations for the new wiring in there. I’m surface mounting all of my outlets in rigid conduit for the convenience or adding, removing, or relocation without having to go into the walls again.

My plan is to run a 6/3 wire from the house (main service panel) and install a 60amp subpanel in the shop. Reference pictures below.

The dilemma: Below are the pictures where the current 12/3 wire (for two circuits) was run through what appears to be 1 inch PVC conduit, underground. How difficult would it be to ‘fish’ a 6/3 through this conduit and how should I go about it? One wire at a time? All of it at once? etc. The house was built approximately 6 years ago.

The dilemma (part deux): With a subpanel in a detached structure, I have to bury a copper ground rod from the subpanel. If I fish the new wire up through the concrete sidewalk, then I’ll have to run the wire for the ground rod out of the shop somewhere suitable to drive the rod in the ground. Is is acceptable to run the wiring for the rod to a different part of the shop and out of the structure?

Thanks guys!

From the house:

Into the shop:

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

21 replies so far

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3667 days

#1 posted 03-28-2009 08:11 PM

If your going to do it I would get a fish tape. Run that through the conduit then tape the rest of the wires and pull all 3 at once.

I’m not sure how well it will fit (in terms of code correct for fill size). You need 1” conduit for more than 2 strands of 6 gauge.

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3366 days

#2 posted 03-28-2009 08:15 PM

I could have sworn you could run more #6 than that through 1 inch. Or is it because it’s PVC and not metal?

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4093 days

#3 posted 03-28-2009 08:18 PM

I am not an electrician but I work around electric as a remodeling contractor.

I go along with Marcb in that the 1” is not large enough to fit the 6 gauge wire.

I know that there are some electricians floating around on LJ.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3663 days

#4 posted 03-28-2009 08:42 PM

first of all, don’t try it! according to the national electric code, you can only run a maximum of 2 #6 wires in 1” pvc. you’ll need to replace the underground raceway and up size your pvc to at least 1 1/4” to handle 6/3

however, if ever presented with this problem in the future, there’s simple way to do it. unhook the 12/3 on both ends from your panels. you then securely attach the 6/3 to one end of the 12/3, and use the 12/3 to pull the 6/3 through the pvc raceway. if there’s alot of bends in the raceway and it pulls hard, you can use aqua-gel, it’s a lubricant for pulling wire.

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3663 days

#5 posted 03-28-2009 08:53 PM

ps. the conduit material does matter. you can run 3 #6 wires in metal conduit (EMT). however, being that your installation is underground, you have to use pvc.

View wdkits1's profile


215 posts in 3347 days

#6 posted 03-28-2009 09:23 PM

Hi Matt
If the conduit is indeed 1” as you said and is continuous from the house to your shop the NEC allows 6 #6 THHN single copper conductors in a 1” schedule 40 PVC conduit.What you will need is 2 conductors of #6 preferably black and red [hots] ,1 #6 white [neutral] and 1 # 8 green [ground].Because this is a service for a sub-panel the green and white terminate on the same bar at the main service but terminate on separate bars at the sub-panel. By pulling a separate ground and installing a separate ground bar in the new panel a ground rod will not be required. If the conduit is not continuous then this will not work as single conductors have to be enclosed in conduit.To pull the new wires in it would be easiest to tie a pull rope 1/4” to the existing wires and pull them out pulling the rope in then tying the new wires to the rope and pulling them in using a little pulling lube [dish detergent works].
I just took another look at you pics and your conduit may be 3/4” in which case code allows 4#6 THHN copper conductors which means that what I described can still work just don’t let the wires get crossed up when you pull them in. If the conduits at each end just stubb thru the walls then you can extend them into the panels using flexible non metallic conduit.

-- Mike --

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3918 days

#7 posted 03-28-2009 09:29 PM

I can help you with this as I was an electrician for a lot of years and just did a job at my house. I will reply PM latere.

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3366 days

#8 posted 03-28-2009 09:41 PM

Sweet! Thanks! It will be another month or so before I do this anyway. I just eyeballed the size. I guess I should have gone out there and measured them. The wire running into my main panel doesn’t have the designation on it for that underground burial stuff so I assumed it was in conduit all the way out there. The neighbors in my subdivision have said their’s was in conduit as well. (All the same builder). I hope they are right.

Thanks wdkits. Very good news. :)

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View DaveH's profile


400 posts in 3772 days

#9 posted 03-28-2009 10:44 PM

1. If you don’t have a permit…get one or get a licensed electrician to do the job who will get a permit. Don’t even think about running underground service to your shop without a permit.

2. Code requires the pvc to be buried to a depth of 18”. If your going very far, get someone with a backhole to dig the trench. If you are doing the work yourself the inspector will need to see the trench to verify depth.

3. Put in 2 1/2” PVC conduit. This is large enough to handle a 200 amp service and will be easier to run the cable.

4. Make sure you handle the ground on the panel in the shop according to code. If you are running the shop panel as a subpanel off the house main you will need to separate the neutral and ground circuits. You may or may not need a ground rod at the shop. Depends on what the inspector says and code. You may need power disconnect on the outside of the shop. Depend on what the inspector says.

If your are going to do your own work. Get a permit and meet with the inspector assigned to your job and talk over you plans and then do what the inspector tells you to do. I did the wiring on my show and that is how I when about planning the job.

-- DaveH - Boise, Idaho - “How hard can it be? It's only wood!”

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2790 posts in 3432 days

#10 posted 03-28-2009 11:56 PM

That size wire through 1”.. I can’t imagine pulling that through that small opening or for that matter getting it into it in the first place. You didn’t mention the length or terrain. Ever think of running an overhead wire from your eaves? It’s legal.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3918 days

#11 posted 03-29-2009 12:59 AM

You can not fill more than 80% of the conduit by code so my advice to you is get a 125 AMP sub panel (lug) with a 100 AMP main in the master panel and run #2 / 3 wire with ground (use UF) and also a 10 foot ground bar outside near the sub panel and no, its not over kill for a shop that has a number of 220 VAC machines as well as high current draw on the 110 equipment. Its cheaper to do it this way now because the load center the wire and breaker is not that much more then what you are buying now for the upgrade. Also check your code they may require you to use metal pipe for inside a shop. 6 gauge would only handle around 45-50 amps safely on a fun of 80 feet. Your UF rated wire which can be buried under ground should never be run in conduit due to heat build up.
My .02 for what its worth

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3366 days

#12 posted 03-29-2009 02:10 AM

You know what? You guys have convinced me to wait until later in the season (maybe fall) and do this job right. All my existing wiring is down right now and I’ll be surface mounting it this week. I have survived out there on a single 20 amp circuit. At the beginning of my renovation I found second 20 amp circuit that was only running a single light bulb and the garage door opened. Never had a single problem. Even running my 1.75hp TS and 1hp DC at the same time. I was looking for an easy 220 but think I would probably be looking to upgrade in another year or so.

This is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks for showing me the light!

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18266 posts in 3670 days

#13 posted 03-29-2009 08:22 AM

I will be getting my 40 year pin from the IBEW next week. I will say there are some interesting ideas here! If you want to know how to use the existing wiring to do what ever you need to do, send a PM.

The national electric code was changed last time or the time before to require a ground rod at each building even if a gound wire is pulled to the seperate building.

The coundit under the bell box is 3/4”.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 3986 days

#14 posted 03-29-2009 09:04 AM

hey go over kill on it i ran 3 2” runs from the house to the shop and ended up useing them all run them below frost line i ran pex thru one of mine so i could have water part of the year.

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18266 posts in 3670 days

#15 posted 03-29-2009 09:20 AM

It never hurts to put in lots of big conduits while the ditch is open. Seems like youi always find a way to use them up & wish for more :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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