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If you want to add just a couple of outlets or a new light fixture, you shouldn’t have to run new wiring all the way from the service panel.  The easiest places to access wiring and power are junction boxes and duplex receptacles.

If you have a basement, look for junction boxes there.  If the circuit has excess capacity, and your needs won’t tax it, start your new line at the box.  Or, you might find a box or two in the attic.

In a finished house, look for a nearby receptacle.  Tie into one that has two unused terminals (provided the circuit has power to spare).  Most duplex receptacles have four terminals — two hot (generally brass) and two neutral (generally silver).

Extend a circuit by tying into the two unused terminals.  If all terminals are in use, you’ll have to look for another receptacle with available terminals.

Extending a circuit from the attic or basement isn’t difficult.  Remove one of the knockouts, attach your new cable, and tie the wires into the existing connections.  You’ll have to use larger wire connectors to accommodate the additional wires.

Getting wire from one spot to the next is usually the biggest challenge in adding or extending circuits in an existing house.  It takes time, patience, and basic knowledge of construction techniques.  But it can be the most rewarding part of the job, because once you’ve pulled your wires through that “impossible” maze of walls, ceilings, and floors, you will feel like you’ve really accomplished something.

Expect to find a 2×4 plate in the bottom of each wall, double plates at the top, and possibly 2×4 fireblocking crosswise between the studs halfway up the walls.

If you have a chimney on an interior wall, running wire alongside it may be the best path from the attic to the basement.  You’ll have some wall patching jobs facing you when the wiring is completed, so prepare for that.

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