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Running cable behind walls

Posted on 2008-06-16
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Last Modified: 2013-11-09
I'm sure this has been asked lots... but can anyone explain how you run an ethernet cable through the wall of a residential home? I've got a cable that I need to run, in the wall, straight up from the first floor to the second floor. It doesn't need to go around any corners, just into the wall, straight up through the ceiling, out the wall on the other end. I think it might also be an outer wall, bordering on the edge of the house. I have no idea where to begin.

Are there any best practices for running ethernet cable through a residential home?
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Question by:Frosty555
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pseudocyber earned 250 total points
ID: 21793439
In a nutshell, you cut a rectangular hole for the jack from the source, same height as your electrical boxes.  Then you do the same thing up stairs.  From the upstairs hole, you drill down through the baseplate of the wall, creating a vertical access between the two floors.  Then, you push/pull/feed the cable from one hole to the other.

If life were simple, you could simply reach in the upstairs hole, find the hole in the baseplate, and drop the cable down to the next hole - where someone reaches in with their hand and grabs it.

Since life is complicated - you might need some flexible rods - either fiberglass or metal, and run between the wall and the insulation - curse a lot to find the hole, and then get it through hopefully without messing up your insullation too bad.  Then, tie the wire to a string and pull it through.

I can give you some more advice and pointers to some tools - where are you?  In the US, both Lowes and Home Depot have started carrying special wire pulling tools - notably long drill bits, fiberglass rods by Greenlee, and some other specialized tools for doing this.  For some really cool tools - and a few "how to's", check out:  http://www.lsdinc.com/content/main

Hope this helps.
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 250 total points
ID: 21794378
Be sure to buy either CMR or CMP rated Cat 5e (or Cat6) cable. The cheapest cable you'll probably find is rated only CM (and may also be only Cat5, not Cat5e), which is not approved by the NFPA or the NEC for running from one floor to another. CMR and CMP are more fire-resistant so if there's a fire it won't just run right up the wire to spread to the next floor[s]. The CMP rating is only required if it's run through air ducts (it off-gasses even less-toxic fumes in the case of a fire; I would say 'non-toxic', still, breathing any smoke from a fire sounds toxic to me), but since its rating exceeds CMR it's ok to use for going between floors in walls too. If you're going to spend the time and money running cable, if you make it Cat6 CMR/CMP now you'll be ready for copper gigabit when you're ready to upgrade (seriously, I would go with gigabit switches and adapters now - those are possibly cheaper than the cable and tools will cost).

I can tell you, though... if you live in the eastern time zone, you're probably NOT going to want to use the flexible greenlee bits in a finished outside wall. There's likely insulation there if it's an outside wall, and if you wrap a fiberglas batt tightly around that bit while you're drilling through the top plate between floors you'll not only have to replace the insulation but rip up the drywall and replace it just to get the bit back out of the wall.  Usually, interior walls aren't insulated, but that's not always true either. I suggest getting a good view of what's behind the wall on both floors before committing to a specific route... e.g. Ridgid's SeeSnake - about $200 at Home-Depot; you may be able to find it cheaper elsewhere, though. http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?jspStoreDir=hdus&catalogId=10053&productId=100608589 and possibly some places rent them for say, $20/day if you don't think you'll need it for future projects.
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by:Frosty555
ID: 21804657
Wow great advice, thanks everyone! I'll get started with it and see what I can do.
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