Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.


Photo
- - - - -

Running Speaker Wire in Wall


  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Luis Esp

Luis Esp

    Supporting Actor



  • 585 posts
  • Join Date: May 25 2001

Posted May 05 2002 - 04:17 PM

I need advice on how to run speaker wire in my walls and what gauge to use. I was planning to use a paintable flat wire speaker (16 gauge) but I found that the paint did not adhere to the speaker jacket very well, even after two coats of primer. Now I'm stuck of what to use for my 3 surround speakers. I was thinking of running the wire behind the base boards then up to the speakers behind the wall and out through a little hole to the speaker. Thanks in advance.
I'm not nice...people just make that assumption of me.

#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

Andrew Pratt

    Producer



  • 3,813 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 08 1998

Posted May 06 2002 - 11:17 AM

If you run in the walls chances are your local building codes will require it to be coated and rated for inwall use. I'm running some 12 guage speaker wire that Home Depot sells. It comes in a green covering and sells for $0.93 a meter so its damn cheap but looks like its a decent quality oxygen free cable

#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Producer



  • 5,965 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 05 1999
  • Real Name:Wayne
  • LocationKaty, TX

Posted May 06 2002 - 02:21 PM

I can tell you how to do it, Luis, but the flat stuff physically won’t work for this, so you’ll need new speaker cable. As Andrew mentioned, local building codes may require in-wall rated cable, and even if they don’t there may be insurance issues, so it never hurts.



Assuming we’re talking sheetrock walls with no internal insulation, you will need a few tools and so forth:
    [*]A drill with appropriate bits.[*]Wire strippers.[*] Wire cutters (often the same tool with do both).[*]An electronic stud finder never hurts.[*]A short length of small chain (typically used for decorative purposes). Make sure it’s steel chain, not brass, nickel, etc.[*]A pull sting 5-6 ft. longer than the distance between the baseboard and the speaker location. Use something substantial, like weed-eater line.[*]Some electrical tape.[*]A “magnet on a stick,” for lack of a better word. I got a little gizmo from an auto parts store that’s perfect for this; it looks like a telescoping car radio antenna with a little round magnet on the end.
First run the wires around the baseboard to the appropriate locations, leaving enough length to get up the wall to the speakers, with a few extra feet of slack. Make sure there is no internal bracing in the wall to keep the wire from dropping (this is where the stud finder is handy). (If you have ceilings higher than 8 feet, internal braces may be a problem.)



Next drill a hole just above the baseboard, just large enough for the speaker wire to fit through. Drill another hole in the wall so that the wire will come out precisely behind the speaker. It is very important that the upper hole be directly above the lower hole.



Next prep the drop string: Tie the drop string to the end of the chain (hopefully you got a chain with loops large enough for the string to fit through).



Next hold the pull string/chain against the wall between the two holes so that the chain dangles about an inch below the lower hole. Put a piece of electrical tape on the pull string where the upper hole is. This will let you know how far to drop the pull string/chain in the wall to reach the lower hole.



Now drop the pull string in the upper hole, chain first, all the way to the tape mark. Then poke your “magnet on a stick” into the lower hole. It will grab the chain, and you can pull it out of the wall. Viola! You now have a pull string in place to get the speaker wire up the wall. Cool, Huh?



You can cut the chain off the pull string now; we don’t need it any more (but keep it for the next drop!). You may want to tape the upper end of the pull string to a screw driver for the time being, to keep it from falling into the wall.



Okay, now we’re going to prep the speaker wire for the pull. If you’re using in-wall rated wire, strip back the outer jacket an inch or so, exposing the two inner conductors. Cut off one of them; we don’t need both for this. If you’re using regular zip-cord-type speaker wire, split out the two individuals an inch of so and cut one of them. Strip the insulation off the remaining conductor and bend it in a “U,” and tie the pull string around it so that the “U” hooks in the loop of the knot. Using the electrical tape, tape over the speaker wire, knot and pull string in a nice, smooth spiral. Remember that we want to minimize bulges. The knot/tape combination absolutely cannot be a larger diameter than the holes we’re going through!



It should be easy now to pull the string hanging out of the upper hole and pull the speaker wire into the lower hole, up the wall and out the upper hole. If your holes are really snug you might want to get someone to feed the speaker wire through the bottom hole while you pull out the top.



Good Luck!



Regards,

Wayne A. Pflughaupt
My Equipment List
“A nice mid-fi system,” according to an audiophile acquaintance.

My Tech / DIY Articles and Reviews

#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Luis Esp

Luis Esp

    Supporting Actor



  • 585 posts
  • Join Date: May 25 2001

Posted May 13 2002 - 02:54 PM

Thanks for the tip. I was able to hook up the left surround speaker with the directions in your post. Unfortunately, my center back channel and right surround channel are both located on walls that have insulation. I've already drilled a hole for the center back channel to the right of the speaker and cannot thread the chain through the wall. Both speakers are placed on the wall studs for stability, so I'm wondering if I should try drilling the hole on the stud. Otherwise, I 'll give the painted cable a second try for the other two speakers.
I'm not nice...people just make that assumption of me.

#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Paul_Dunlop

Paul_Dunlop

    Second Unit



  • 318 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 28 2001

Posted May 14 2002 - 07:05 AM

Hi To get through insulation, i used a straightened out coat hanger. It sometimes gets caught on the vapour barrier, but you should be able to push it through. Hope this helps
HD DVD in the house

#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Producer



  • 5,965 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 05 1999
  • Real Name:Wayne
  • LocationKaty, TX

Posted May 14 2002 - 02:09 PM

Glad to hear you were partially successful, Luis.



In-wall insulation can be an obstacle, since you can’t drop your pull string free-air into the wall. (Not sure what you mean about “drilling a hole on the stud.” You certainly can’t drop a wire in a stud, so obviously I missed something there.)



You can still pull this off, but you will need a few more tools:
    [*]An electrician’s fish tape.[*]A carpenter’s level.[*]A sheetrock saw, or perhaps a single-edge box cutter knife.
And a few more supplies:
    [*]Two so-called “old-work” electrical boxes.[*]Two blank covers for the above, in the appropriate color for your decor.
The priciest of these is the fish tape. You can pick one up for about $20 at a hardware store; it may even be possible to rent one if you check around. The fish tape is stiff so it will “force” its way through the insulation.



In your case it actually works out good that you have the hole for your speaker wires drilled close to the stud. This way you can angle the fish tape so that it “chases” the stud all the way down to the bottom of the wall. That way you know exactly where to look for it.



Of course, you will not be able to get the fish tape through the little hole for the speaker wire at the baseboard. You will need an access hole, big enough to stick your hand in and pull out the fish tape. If you’re good at sheet rock repair you can cut a 3-4” hole with a hole saw, then re-install the round plug and patch and paint.



If sheetrock repair is not your forté the “old work” electrical boxes are what you want. These are designed to be retrofitted into existing sheetrock. Unlike boxes put in at new construction, which are nailed before hand to the studs, old work boxes are designed to be mounted in a hole in the sheetrock between the studs. The box has a pair of flanges on the front and a pair of rear tabs mounted on screws that secure it into the sheetrock.



You will cut holes for the boxes in the sheetrock a foot or so above the small holes above the baseboard (the ones for the speaker wires), and they will serve as the access holes you will need to help get the wire in place. After the wire is in place the old work box will go in the hole and the blank cover installed.



The key to pulling off a professional-looking job here is the old work boxes. When the job is finished all you will see is the blank wall plates. Therefore they must be the same height as the other electrical outlets in the room, and they must be level. To that end I’m devoting a lot of detail here on how to cut out the sheetrock and install them properly.



The old work box should come with a template for the exact hole to be cut for it. Be sure to look for the template when you buy the boxes. Measure and mark the vertical center of the template.



Take a measurement on the nearest electrical outlet, from the center screw that holds the cover, to the floor (or baseboard if you prefer). This will let you know how high to center the old work box; you want to make sure it is the same height in the wall as existing electrical boxes. Align the center mark on the template with the mark on the wall, above the small hole you previously drilled at the top of the baseboard (where the speaker wire is supposed to go into the wall). You will have to watch out for the stud, so make sure the old work box will be installed at least an inch or so away from the stud.



Making sure the box is cut in level into the wall is easy with new construction, because the box is nailed into the side of a stud that is already level. But since this is an “old work” situation, leveling becomes an issue. Thus before you trace the template on the wall, use the level. This is important to make sure we get the box set in the wall straight. Don’t try to “eyeball” it - you’re kneeling over with your head cocked to one side; you’ll never “eyeball” it right in this position. In fact, just by “eyeballing”, the level will look off, even though the bubble says it’s right. Trust the bubble.



With the template marked on the wall you can use the sheet rock saw to cut the opening. This is probably the most important part of the whole job, Luis, so be careful. Screw this up and we have a big hole in the wall we won’t be able to easily cover. Before you go to sawing along the lines, stab the saw at every 90-degree line corner, on the line, in the direction you want to cut. Pay special attention to the short, vertical part of the horizontal “Z” lines at the top and bottom of the template marking. If you stab here after you have sawed the line to the center of the “Z,” it’s easy to just break out the sheet rock and ruin the “Z.” If the “Z” shape is not intact, the pop-up tabs on the old work box will not be able to properly secure the box in the hole. In fact, the first line you should cut should be the vertical part of the “Z,” and you shouldn’t have any problems with this.



After the hole is cut, the box should slip in comfortably without being forced, and it should be level. If it’s too tight or not quite level you can carefully make adjustments to the hole as needed. (By the way, I forgot to mention, when you go to buy a sheet rock saw, choose one with a blade as pointed as possible, to make it easier to stab into the wallboard.)



Once you have the holes for the boxes cut, it’s downhill from there. All you need to do now is get your pull string in place, which will be easy with the access holes. Spool off enough fish tape length to get from the speaker mounting location to the floor and tape your pull string to the end of the fish tape. Then stab the fish tape downward into the upper speaker wire hole, towards the lower access hole. As you stab the fish tape, angle it towards the nearby stud. This way the tape will “chase” the stud all the way down the wall to the floor. When you feel the tape hit bottom, stick your hand into the access hole. You should be able to feel the nearby stud and easily find the end of the fish tape and pull it out of the access hole. All you need to do now is untape the pull string from the fish tape, reach back into the access hole and push the pull string out of the hole for the speaker wire.



At this point you should be able to attach the speaker wire to the pull string and proceed as instructed in the earlier post. After the speaker wire is in place you can install the old work boxes and the blank covers.



Regards,

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

My Equipment List
“A nice mid-fi system,” according to an audiophile acquaintance.

My Tech / DIY Articles and Reviews

#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Wes Stover

Wes Stover

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 53 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 26 2001

Posted May 14 2002 - 06:05 PM

If there is an attic above the room, I would run the cables through the attic and up/down through the top plate of the wall. Much cleaner looking, fewer holes in the wall and sometimes less cable going from point A to B. Just a thought. I have successfully routed wire through insulated walls. It's not fun but possible. Good luck.

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Luis Esp

Luis Esp

    Supporting Actor



  • 585 posts
  • Join Date: May 25 2001

Posted May 16 2002 - 07:34 AM

Well I got the electrician's fishing tape and boy did that make life easier. Luckily, I was changing all the baseboards so I was able to run the speaker cable behind it.



Now I just to patch up the holes from my previous attempts.Posted Image
I'm not nice...people just make that assumption of me.

#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Jason Brent

Jason Brent

    Second Unit



  • 268 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 12 2002

Posted May 25 2003 - 08:49 PM

Wayne, I guess I'm a little confused (I'm not very handy with this stuff) How are you concealing the wire from the receiver/amplifier to the hole in the wall? Are you just running it along the floor? Also, what do you do with the section of wire coming out from the hole just above the baseboard to the floor? Thanks, Jason

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Producer



  • 5,965 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 05 1999
  • Real Name:Wayne
  • LocationKaty, TX

Posted May 26 2003 - 01:36 PM

Jason, The person who started this thread was going to run his wire behind the baseboard to the appropriate location (see top post). He noted in the post just above yours that he did this while changing out the baseboard. If you have a carpeted floor, you can stuff the wire between the carpet and baseboard. That’s what I’ve done in the past. My first post above will tell you how to proceed from that point. The downside is that you are limited in the size of wire you can use, to 16 or even 18ga. If you have hard-surface floors you won’t be able to hide the wire unless you use some kind of wire-channel or remove the baseboards. You may be able to get some additional tips in you post a question in the "HT Construction" section of this Forum. Regards, Wayne A. Pflughaupt
My Equipment List
“A nice mid-fi system,” according to an audiophile acquaintance.

My Tech / DIY Articles and Reviews

#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Shane Morales

Shane Morales

    Second Unit



  • 428 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 09 2003

Posted June 25 2004 - 09:06 AM

Wayne, you're awesome! I'm going to have to do this in a few weeks and your directions will be invaluable. Thanks for posting such detailes instructions.
:::Shane
:::nineshadoweyes.com

#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

    Executive Producer



  • 10,890 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2002
  • Real Name:Cameron Yee
  • LocationSince 2006

Posted July 06 2005 - 10:29 PM

Thanks again to Wayne for his great tips. Like Luis one speaker was a cinch (only one wrongly drilled hole), but the other was a real PITA. Finally got it dialed in though (after four wrongly drilled holes :B). The chain and magnet thing was the best part. I dressed down the 3/8" holes with plastic bushings, so it looks very clean. The anal side of me would prefer not to have the piece of wire lapping over the baseboard trim, but the other option is much more invasive. I'll probably try painting it.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users