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How to Drill a Wall Header for Wiring

Wall headers run along the top of window and door openings in your home. Headers are typically constructed of wood, and fulfill the role of a lintel in a post-and-lintel system. They are load-bearing elements that transfer weight around the window or door, to the solid foundation below. When installing wiring in your home, it is always best to avoid drilling through load bearing elements. If you have no choice, wires can be set within notches in your header to preserve as much structural integrity as possible.

Wires are always easier to run before construction is complete.

Step 1

Remove the drywall panel above your doorway or window to gain access to the header. Use your crowbar to pry the edges of the drywall panel away from the studs and header, and use your screw gun or hammer claw to remove the drywall screws or nails. (Reference 5)

Step 2

Use your hand-held router to notch a groove into the header wide and deep enough so your power wires can pass through. Only cut as much as necessary, and start with a shallow and narrow cut, expanding as needed. Attempt to fit the wire after each attempt to avoid over cutting. Once the wire fits into the groove, you must cover and protect it.

Step 3

Install flat metal nail-protector plates over the wire, and the notch to prevent nails and screws from being driven into the wire. Each plate has metal spikes at either end. Use your hammer to drive these spikes into the header, and use your screw gun to install drywall screws through the metal plate screw holes.

Step 4

Install a new drywall panel over the header and studs. Use your screw gun and drywall screws to fasten the drywall panel in place.

Warnings

  • Use caution when working with electricity. Never work with a live line. Make sure the right circuit breakers are tripped, and that all the lines in question are dead before beginning any work.
  • Try your best to notch all load bearing headers toward the top of the wood beam and not the bottom. Try to avoid notching headers near existing knots, and do not make your notches more than a quarter of the way through the wood.