Apartment wiring - across floor, along wall, or under carpet?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Eric_E, Jan 16, 2003.

  1. Eric_E

    Eric_E Supporting Actor

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    Hi everyone, I apologize if this has been asked before - I did a search of the forum but couldn't find a satisfactory answer. I'm interested to hear everyone's opinions.

    I'm planning to make my first home theater purchase (receiver/speakers) within the next few months and I'm trying as best I can to plan everything out in advance and anticipate problems. I have a question about how to run my speaker wires for my surrounds.

    I live in an apartment, so running the wires in-wall is not really an option. I also probably won't be able to tear up the carpet to run the wires under there. I would prefer not to have wires running across the floor (even if they were covered by those flat plastic covers. So as far as I can see, my only realistic option is to run the cable along the baseboards of the wall and up and over doors when necessary.

    The problem that this creates is that it requires a huge length of wire (probably 50' or more for each speaker, and I intend to have four surrounds for a (for now pseudo-) 7.1 system. This means 200' of wire, and if I intend to use 12 gauge, this will also be a huge bundle of wire running along the base of the walls. Speaking of which, is there any problem with running speaker wires so close to each other?

    So, to get to the point, does anybody have any suggestions about my options? Right now I am thinking I may just end up trying to run the wires under the carpet after all, but is this bad for the wire? will it wear on the insulation? So many questions... I appreciate your help and suggestions.

    Eric
     
  2. Mike_Morgan

    Mike_Morgan Stunt Coordinator

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    Eric,

    I am in the same boat as you. I'm a HT enthusiast living in a small apartment too. I actually used a combination of under the carpet and along the walls. For one speaker I had easy access to pull the carpet up and run it under for one of my surround speakers. The other I had to run along the bottom of the wall, up and over a walkway, and along the edge of the wall some more. I used Monster XP Navajo White wire. I ran it neatly along the edges of the wall and tacked it in place with very small nails in between the two conductors.

    Hope you can find something to work well for ya. One said was easy for me to pull the carpet up, so I did that where possible. Good luck!

    Mike
     
  3. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Eric,

     
  4. Eric_E

    Eric_E Supporting Actor

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    Mike, Wayne: Thanks for your input! I appreciate it.

    Wayne:
     
  5. James Zubb

    James Zubb Stunt Coordinator

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    There is a tool called under carpet tape you can get at http://www.lsdinc.com/. It is under the wire fishing tools sections. Basically it is a flat metal tape that you push under the carpet then feed the wire.
    I haven't used it myself. I am lazy and just have the wire strung across the floor. [​IMG]
     
  6. Eric_E

    Eric_E Supporting Actor

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    James:

    That's a pretty cool idea, although I'm not entirely sure how it works. It just looks like a flat strip of metal - how do you thread the wire under the carpet with it? Is the wire actually attached to the end of the metal part as you slide it under, and then you detach the wire and retract the tool back under the carpet once the wire is on the other side? What keeps the wire attached to the thing in the first place? Tape? Anyway, thanks for the tip.
     
  7. Eric_E

    Eric_E Supporting Actor

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    James:
    I think I got it. I found something about this very product on Home Theater magazine's website Here.
    Thanks for the idea!
     
  8. Seth T

    Seth T Stunt Coordinator

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    In both my old house and my current apartment, I've been in the same situation. What I did was...straighten out a coat hanger and make a small loop on one end big enough to get the speaker wire through, and a hook on the other end big enough to hold on to.

    Then I went down the wall with the wire, pushing a small finish nail in between the two conducters into the wall to hold it flat. When I got to the baseboard, I took it off.I went about 2 feet away on the carpet and cut a 1" (or so) slit in it between the fibers. I stuck the small hook end of the coat hanger in and got it to the wall where I slipped the speaker wire in. Then I just pulled the coat hanger out, which pulled the speaker wire through. Then I went another 2 feet away, cut another slit, fed the coat hanger, pulled the wire, etc until I got to where the wire needed to be. Don't forget to put the baseboard back.

    Pain in the ass, but if you make the cuts small enough, you won't ever see them and the wire is hidden. That's how I added my rear surround.

    I have yet to see any problems with the carpet coming apart or any other noticeable problems.

    Good luck!

    -Seth
     
  9. JayDaniel

    JayDaniel Stunt Coordinator

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    Eric, with the proper tool (like James suggested), you don't mess up your carpet at all. You use flat speaker wire. You are only required to pull up the carpet from the tack strip a few inches where the (1) the wire goes under the carpet behind your receiver and (2)where the wire comes out behind the rear speaker. Then just push the carpet back down onto the tack strip. You may have to use a screwdriver or something to push it back up under the baseboard.

    I've not personally used this tool, but I've seen it done by a professional installer. I did however just pull up the edge of my carpet from the tack strip all along one wall and run wires to my surrounds in my previous house - no problems encountered.
     
  10. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    Another idea that has stood me in good stead:

    I've used flat wire under a nice rug that traverses the distance from the tv to the sofa.
     
  11. Andy Young

    Andy Young Stunt Coordinator

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    Another route is to use in-wall rated speaker cable.

    For example, there is some Monster THX rated UL CL3 14ga wire selling on ebay right now for $10 per 25' length. This cable will look like a white-jacketed coaxial cable running the length of your baseboard.

    16 gauge would also work quite well, though I don't think I'd go smaller than that.

    Anyway, just thought I'd suggest the in-wall cable, because I think it looks nicer and doesn't necessarily look like speaker cable.

    BTW, when I was in an apartment, I actually used 22 ga wire that I could physically tuck into the crack between baseboard and carpet. I wouldn't recommend using 22 ga wire, though -- I just didn't know any better at the time.

    Good luck.
     
  12. HowardGjr

    HowardGjr Stunt Coordinator

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    Eric,
    I don't live in an apartment. But my equipment is setup in a second floor room of 120 year old house. The plaster walls make it a pain to run through the walls. Here are a few things that I did:
    1. Used a "flat" 13-Gauge wire to surrounds. The jacket of the wire was paintable, so we used a faux finish in the room and added the finish to the wires. It came out pretty well.
    2. I found that running wires under carpet is a pain for long runs. However, I'm not super handy. We do run the flat wire under the carpet across door openings. This was not too difficult.
    3. We used "CordMate II" a product from WireMold which adheres to baseboards using adhesive tape. While this changes the look of the baseboard, it's really easy to install and you could just pull it off and repaint when you leave.
    If your looking for "really flat wire" you might want to try the link below.
    DeCorp Flat Wire
    If you don't mind leaving the wire when you leave the apartment, you could cover it with tape and joint compound and it would be pretty invisible. It's only 4 - 10 mils thick.
    Take care.
    Howard
     

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