guides or sites for running wiring?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by len_casady, Dec 3, 2001.

  1. len_casady

    len_casady Auditioning

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    Looking for a site that gives tips on how to fish wire from behind the wall. My system arrived today and am looking at picking up some speaker wire and running to the back wall. Don't want to tear the sheet rock up too bad, would like just a very small hole just for the wire and then run it to my speakers (plan to put'em on stands)

    Thanks
     
  2. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Hi Len,
    Welcome to the Forum!
    I’m good at this kind of stuff. Wayne’s my name, wire’s my game!
    I need some more info:
    • I guess you mean dropping wire inside a wall, not behind a wall?
    • Are you running the wires around the baseboards (from the receiver) or through the attic?
    • If the latter, I assume this a one-story house?
    • I assume you have access to some tools--a drill, various bits, sheetrock saw, etc.?
    Get back to me and we’ll get busy!
    Happy Holidays,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  3. len_casady

    len_casady Auditioning

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    Yep, I meant in the wall. From the reciever, in one wall and up thru the attic and down in another wall out to the speakers. Yes its a one story. 18v Dewalt drill, 12" long 1/2" drill bit, and dremel. Also clothes hangars, kite string, and fishing line.

    I knew someone had to be an expert on this.

    Thanks
     
  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Len,
    Sorry for the delay, but as you can see it took some time to put this together.
    Ordinarily I’m a little leery of people asking how to do stuff like this. There has been more than one time when I spend a couple of hours writing and dropped 10-15 paragraphs of instructions, only to have the guy come back with “Oh, gee, this it too much for me.” However, your choice of “weapons” (i.e., that Dewalt drill [​IMG] ) gives me confidence – tells me you’re a serious DIYer. Not to mention the pull strings, etc.
    First, the 1/2" bit might be a little small unless you are using 14 ga. or smaller speaker wire. I doubt you will be able to get a pair of 12 ga. wires down a hole that size (which is what you will be doing at the equipment location, where both wires go out to the rear). Of course, you could always drill two holes and make two drops. I would recommend a 3/4" auger bit as a better option. However, augers are pretty aggressive – it may require an electric drill to do the job.
    Here are the tools and other supplies you’ll need:
    • Three coat-hangers, hooks cut off and straightened.
    • Sheetrock saw.
    • Level.
    • An electronic stud finder never hurts.
    • Flashlight or some other work light for the attic.
    • Electric drill.
    • Assorted drill bits.
    • 3/4” auger bit.
    • Electrical tape.
    • Optional, but recommended: a couple of short 1” x 12” boards.
    Parts:
    • Appropriate cabling.
    • Three old work electrical boxes.
    • Cover of your choice.
    There are really only few major “tricks” to this if you have an attic: Making sure there are no obstructions in the wall, finding the drop locations in the attic, and the actual wire drop.
    First decide where the wiring is going to come out of the wall at all three locations. Use the stud finder to make sure you are between studs, and that there are no horizontal cross braces. You will not be able to drop a wire down the wall if there is a cross brace. Typically if the house had 8 ft. ceilings, there are no cross braces, but late-model houses with 9-10 ft. ceilings use them a lot (especially the latter).
    After determining the drop locations, drill a small 1/8” hole in the ceiling directly above them, just big enough for the coat-hanger to fit through (actually, it is better to make the hole a little small and force the coat hanger through it). The drill bit should get through the sheetrock pretty easy – if you hit something solid above it, move out an inch or so and try again. After you have your hole in the ceiling, stick the coat hanger up through it a good distance. The coat hanger will poke right through any insulation, and will be easy to see once you get in the attic. Hopefully it will go right up into the ceiling with no problem. If not, there is something in the attic above the drop point, and you have a problem!
    (NOTE: Cathedral ceilings, with a wall that goes really high, with attic space behind it, require a different tact. In this case, pick a point up on the wall that you are sure will access the attic, drill and poke the coat hanger horizontally through the wall.)
    Next go to the attic and find your coat hangers and verify that all three locations are viable. The worst that can happen is for one of your locations to be directly under the air conditioner (or something like that) or at a place where there is no access for some reason. Cramped access is also a problem – you won’t be able to drill into the header board. Notice we did all this before cutting any holes in the wall downstairs. Smart, huh? [​IMG] It would be a real bummer to cut a hole in the wall only to find out you couldn’t make a drop there for some reason.
    At the equipment and speaker locations, you will probably want to install old-work electrical boxes to dress out the place where the wires come out of the wall. You will need the sheet-rock saw to cut holes for the old-work boxes. The boxes should come with a pattern card that you can use to draw an outline on the wall. Be sure and use your level with the pattern to make sure it is straight.
    If there is no pattern available, you can place the back-end of the box on the wall and trace around it. Keep the size of the hole tight, top, bottom and sides. The box should be a fairly snug fit in the hole. This is the most critical part of the job, so don’t screw this up. Cut your hole too big and the box’s flange and rear brace have nothing to support them. If your box ends up unleveled, it will look like crap, especially if your speakers won’t be directly in front to hide it.
    If you will be using in-wall boxes at all three locations, go ahead and cut all the holes for them before going to the attic.
    Before you go to the attic you want to get your speaker wire ready. Decide how much wire will come out of the wall behind the equipment and add to that figure the length of wire that will be inside the wall. At that total distance, wrap some tape around both wires. This will serve as a marker once we get into the attic – i.e., let you know when you’ve dropped enough wire in the wall.
    Okay, on to the attic, with the drill, auger bit, light and wire. I like to use a couple of scrap 1x12 boards that I lay across the rafters so I have something to kneel on while I’m up there. Makes attic work a lot easier, for sure.
    Start first with the drop behind the equipment. When you find your coat hanger, pull back the insulation and you will see a horizontal 2x4. This is the header board for the wall. Drill your 3/4” hole into the center of the header, directly perpendicular to your coat hanger wire. Afterwards you should see daylight through the hole; that’s from the hole you cut in the wall downstairs. If so, all is well! (A tip: If you don’t mind cutting up three coat hangers, you can poke all three of them through the ceiling – that way you can drill and drop all three locations with one trip up to the attic.)
    Okay, you’re ready for the drop. Drop the speaker wires down the hole until you come to the tape (your “this is all we need” marker). It helps to have someone downstairs to pull the wire out of the wall. With the tape just at the entrance of the hole, you now have enough wire for that location.
    On to the two rear locations, drill and drop.
    Back down stairs, route the wiring through the old work boxes and install them in the wall. You can dress them out with a blank cover with a hole in the center to run the wires through. Some people like install covers with banana connectors, but I prefer to take the wire out of the wall directly to the speakers and receiver. Adding in-wall banana plugs gives four additional terminations per wire, all potential places for a problem. Using an uninterrupted wire from receiver to speaker is simpler, cheaper and more reliable. Win, win, win.
    The tiny holes in the ceiling the coat hangers poked through are nothing to worry about (it’s too small to see without really looking for it), but if you’re really detailed, you might want to dab a little spackling in it.
    The only other thing: If at the speaker locations you intend to drop the wire directly out of a small hole in the wall (i.e., no old work boxes), that will need additional instructions. This link tells you how to get a wire from the baseboard up to the speakers, but it's the same principle getting it down from the attic.
    Dropping Wires In-Wall from Baseboards, Part 1
    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  5. len_casady

    len_casady Auditioning

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    Great! I'll let ya know how it goes.
     
  6. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    I have to say that is one of the best wire-drop guides I've read yet! Thanks Wayne.
    Now all I need is a house.... [​IMG]
    -Max
     
  7. GregoryK

    GregoryK Agent

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    Wayne:

    I've been lurking on this thread because I'm considering almost the same thing. I just printed out your response -- great stuff! Thanks.

    My new place was built in 1923, it has plaster walls and a high ceiling (10ft?) If you care to share any other tips, I'm all ears -- even if you don't I've learned many things.

    Thanks again,
     
  8. John_Panz

    John_Panz Auditioning

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    Very nice!

    I feel pretty proud of myself because I just did most of that this past weekend in the process of installing some in ceiling rear surrounds. It was my first attempt - but if you have some competence and follow the advice, it won't be too bad. (Just start early in the am if you live where it is hot!)

    I have one question, though. I ran my speaker wires to the same box as my cable so I didn't have to cut another hole in the wall. Is crossing the cable and the speaker wires a problem? Also when looking in the wall, I notice that the speaker wires will cross an electric power cable - - - Are either of these going to cause me a problem with the sound????

    By the way, another helpful tool is a small hand mirror to insert into your hole in the wall to determine if there is a board in the middle of your wall and to help find the wires you drop down. Just stick it in there, shine a flashlight on it and turn it until you can see what you want. Works pretty good.

    This weekend, I have to finish the install. Since the in ceiling speakers will be right near the external wall, I'll have to squeeze into the space between the ceiling and where the roof slopes to meet the external wall. Ugh.
     
  9. Chuck_C

    Chuck_C Stunt Coordinator

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    Great instructions, Wayne.

    One of my favorite tools is the 6 foot flexible drill bit that can be bought in many different sizes (1/2”, 5/8”, etc.). With it you can cut your box cutout, insert the drill bit in the wall, attach a drill motor and drill down into the basement or ceiling. There, the wire can be attached to the pull hole in the drill bit and fished back up into the room. Last week, I noticed the bits for about $20 each at Home Depot.

    Another great tool is that lightweight chain for fishing. This is that gold colored chain that is made up of little folded stamped sheet metal links. It has enough weight of it’s own to drop down drill holes where it can be fished at the other end.
     
  10. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Gregory,
    Plaster is a retro nightmare, to the best of my knowledge. My advice in this situation would be to consult with a local home theater company. If anyone can deal with plaster, they can.
    John,
    First, Welcome to the Forum!
    Don’t worry about mixing the cable types in the same box. I have 21 cable running into my box – never had any problems.
    Also, the electric cable crossing your speaker cable is not a problem.
    For a tip on your tight space in the attic, keep reading!
    Chuck,
    A welcome to you, too!
    I’ve never used the long bits, but they would certainly come in handy if the drop was where it’s too tight to drill it from the attic – like near where the roof slopes down to the eaves (John, you paying attention? [​IMG] ).
    I usually recommend a pull line of something sturdy like weed-eater line, with a chain tied to the end. Since Len was only dropping speaker wire (which typically drops down pretty straight) so it would have been a wasted step in thic case. However, I certainly would have recommended it if he was dropping a group of cables, or a piece or RG-6, etc.
    Since it's for fishing, I imagine your chain is brass or womething else that won't rust. You might want to check this out: I like to use a thin steel chain that is magnetic. Sometimes that comes in handy. A couple of weeks ago I did some rear speakers for some friends in a two-story house with really fancy wood paneling. There was no attic (for where I was, anyway.) I drilled a small hole at the top where the speaker was going to mount, and another one at the bottom just above the baseboard. I dropped the pull string and stuck a magnet in the lower hole, which caught the chain and pulled it right out. I have this little gizmo I picked up at an auto parts store; it looks like a small telescoping car antenna with a little magnet on the end. It’s supposed to be for fishing out nuts or bolts that might be dropped in some inaccessable crevice uhder the hood, but it’s also good for fishing wire out of walls. [​IMG]
    Happy Holidays,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  11. John_Panz

    John_Panz Auditioning

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    Again - great instructions Wayne. Thanks! This is truly a great forum and I can't begin to tell you guys how much I've learned here.

    Tomorrow I deal with the in ceiling speakers. The problem for me is to install the in ceiling speakers, I've got to get to them at the attic side - that's where the mounting hardware is - it is also where the roof slopes to meet the wall. So, I'm gonna have to brave the iron maiden and insulation.

    I think I'll start early!!
     
  12. len_casady

    len_casady Auditioning

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    Belated progess update and thanks. While searching for a message I posted a few days ago, came across this old one. Thanks Wayne for the great info. I ran the speaker wires with no trouble at all and have been enjoying it every since. I've been running wires for a while now (since your post). Have several bits and other tools. With your tips, I've ran speaker, phone, lan, and cable (RG6) like a pro. Done it for several friends as well. I had actually forgotten where I had gotten the info. Sorry. Now I remeber!

    The only trouble I have is the heat and humdity of South Texas summers and itching "like-all-get-out" from the insulation... wearing pants and long sleeve shirts compounds the first problem :)

    Len
     
  13. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Ah, one of the early “graduates” of my “Running cable for fun and profit” course study. Nice to see you’re still hanging around, Len!
     
  14. len_casady

    len_casady Auditioning

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    Nice, more detailed tips.

    As far as electrical. Nope, not yet. Although my wife asked the same question, in reguards to a room we have that does not have a light fixture. May get some help from a buddy of mine (who is an electrician).

    Len
     
  15. kjgarrison

    kjgarrison Auditioning

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    Wayne, when I click on the dropping wires links, all I get is the main forum. I just found your incredibly helpful stuff today.
     
  16. abrysdam

    abrysdam Auditioning

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    Wayne,

    I've been lurking through this thread as we just had our basement finished and the biggest thing we didn't do was plan for speaker and TV placement. Thus, not wires were run, an additional outlet for a wall-mounted plasma/LCD was not put in, etc.

    So that brings me here. I know having something install this stuff will cost a good bunch and I hate to have someone do it because I always have a project going. I my thought is that I would want to wire for a 5.1 system in my basement. The biggest issue is going to be the rear speaker placement. There is a door in the middle of the back wall. On one side, I have access to the back and don't think it would be too difficult to snake the speaker wire through and then across (over the door and then down to the other side). The issue comes in on the front wall where there is a top plate.

    Any suggestions on the following:

    - cost/benefit of having someone else do this all to avoid any "pain"

    - option of running cables under/behind the baseboard and then up to the desired locations.

    - probability of this not going haywire if I do it myself?
     

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