How to hide wiring for wall mounted speakers?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Gary Mui, Apr 2, 2004.

  1. Gary Mui

    Gary Mui Agent

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    I had recently did a quick install of my 'bedroom' home theater (20" LCD, glass shelves underneath it for the equipment, 5.1 speakers).

    The speakers were wall mounted at about 5' high. The speaker wire was just run from the receiver at the front, down to the floor, then under the wall (where the wall meets the carpet), and back up to each speaker. So the wiring from the carpet straight up to each of the satellites is basically in plain sight (ugly copper orange!). So basically I want to get that exposed speaker wire INSIDE the wall.

    One way I thought about doing it:

    Drill a hole behind the speaker,
    then get some fishing line,
    tie a small weight to it,
    drop it into that freshly drilled hole,
    drop it down the inside of the wall,
    fish out that weight at the bottom of the wall,
    pull it through the front where the carpet is,
    tie the speaker wire to it,
    shove it back into the wall,
    then pull up the fishing wire + speaker wire up the inside of the wall,
    and back out the hole that was drilled behind the speaker.

    Does that sound doable? Taking a dremel and cutting straight down the wall, then filling it back up and painting the wall is NOT an option. Any advise is greatly appreciated by this newbie! Thanks.
     
  2. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    You've got the idea. That's what the pro's do... although the "fish tape" they use is not fishing line, it's a spring-steel wire.

    For an interior wall, your method should work fine. For exterior walls (filled with insulation), you'll need to use the steel wire approach.
     
  3. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    I would definitely recommend using the steel tape. Don't forget that your wall has a plate at the bottom that is at least 1.5 inches high off the wood subfloor, so you will need to take that into consideration when you drill it. You will also need to notch the back of your baseboard trim where the wire goes into the wall at. Good luck, and don't get discouraged when the wire tape doesn't go through on the first try. It sometimes takes patience to find it and pull it through the hole.
     
  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Gary,

    A fish tape will not work for what you want to here. It’s easy enough to get it into a small hole in the wall up top, but fishing it out of another small hole at the bottom is virtually impossible.

    You’re actually on the right track with the fish line. I do it with weed-eater line (essentially the same thing). For the weight, I use a 1-foot length of small steel chain that you can get from a hardware store. Look for the rolls of decorative chain, used for hanging pot plants etc. You want a steel chain or other ferrous metal. And it has to be physically small enough to easily slip into a hole big enough for a speaker wire, but not so small that it won’t properly weigh down the fish line. For instance, the chain they use for pull-switches for ceiling fans and closet light fixtures is too light.

    While you’re out, go to the auto parts store and pick up one of those gizmos that look like a telescoping car antenna with a magnet on the end.

    Back at the house drill your two holes for the wire drop. Make sure they are perfectly aligned vertically. Make the lower hole just above the baseboard. This is necessary to make sure you clear the footer 2x4 inside the wall (you won’t be able to go all the way down to “where the carpet is”).

    Once the holes are drilled, drop the line with the chain tied to it in upper hole. I usually dangle the wire on the outside of the wall first, to see how much length I’ll need to get to the lower hole, and either mark the line with a sharpie or a piece of electrical tape (a must-have “accessory” for any installer). This way I can tell when I’ve dropped enough line inside the wall.

    Once the line is dropped, stick the end of the telescoping magnet in the lower hole, and it will attach itself to the steel chain (presuming you properly aligned the two holes), and you can pull the line out of the wall.

    After you pull the line out, you can untie the chain and you now have a pull string you can use the pull your speaker wire back up and out of the top hole.

    When it’s said and done the only exposed wire will be between the floor and the top of the baseboard. You can make it less noticeable by using appropriately-colored zip cord for your wire, or even paint it after the fact.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  5. Gary Mui

    Gary Mui Agent

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    "spring-steel wire" ?
    Is this just steel wiring?

    "steel tape" ?
    I did a search, and came up with steel tape measures?

    Are you guys just suggestion something stronger than fishing wire? My concern would be how 'straight' a stronger wire would be, since I need to be able to feed it inside the wall, and have it drop straight down to the bottom, where I can predict it will be (so that I can fish it back out).

    Adam:
    AFAIK, there's no plate at the bottom of my bedroom walls. It's just sheets of gymproc. There's no baseboard trim in that room, and where the carpet meets the gyproc, there's about 1/4" of room where I can fish it out. (I've already shoved coaxial cable and the rest of the speaker wiring into the bottom of the wall through these gaps).
     
  6. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    There are a lot of different things you can use. The fish tape that we referred to by myself and others is something that you can get at Lowes or Home Depot. It is a rigid wire that can could up for storage. Here is more info about tape. The advantage of using it is that if you have insulation or other obstructions in the wall you can force your way through them more easily than non rigid things like chain or fishing line. Wayne makes an excellent point about chain being easier to fish out the bottom of the hole than wire tape. If the wall was insulated I would use the tape. If it's not Wayne had some suggestions that would work better.

    Here is a picture of the plate than Wayne and I were talking about:
    [​IMG]The plate is the 2x4 and 2x6 pieces at the bottom of the wall. If you are drilling your hole above the carpet, then you are just above this.
     
  7. Gary Mui

    Gary Mui Agent

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    Oh...! That 2x4 at the bottom, right right. Thanks for all your suggestions guys, I'll see what I can do, and I'll let you guys know how it went. Thanks again!
     
  8. Gary Mui

    Gary Mui Agent

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    So yesterday I finally went ahead and did this project for the rear 2 speakers.

    I removed a speaker, then drilled a hole behind it. Then I tied my 3 foot chain to a nylon string (3ft chain was leftover at home depot, so I just bought it rather than finding someone to cut me a new one).

    I hung it outside of the wall, and eyeballed it to drill a matching hole at the bottom.

    When I fed the chain into the hole, I got it all in, then tried to feed the string in, but it wasn't 'falling' in? Something was causing it to get blocked up. After a while, I realized it was a sheet of plastic inside the wall (some sorta vapor barrier I guess?).

    Solution: I went and found a nice fat McDonald's straw, fed the chain into that, then stuck the straw into the wall, extending it deeper into the wall, therefore Past the plastic sheet. It was actually easier with the straw, because I could use it to jiggle the chain/string to fall in deeper. (Before, I was tugging and dropping the string/chain and hoping the weight of the chain would pull the string in deeper, as if I was really fishing! haha!).

    Badda bing. Badda boom. I was able to catch onto it at the bottom with my telescoping magnet! Untied the chain, tied on the speaker wire, pulled it straight up.

    DONE.

    It looks a whole lot nicer now, without the ugly copper wires exposed. Now I just gotta move the dressers aside, to do the front 3 speakers.

    Thanks for all your help, guys!
     
  9. am986

    am986 Auditioning

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    The idea i used was,

    Gently tie the speaker wire to a magnet (preferably donut shaped), drop that through the wall and use another magnet to guide it to the desired hole. Its fool proof and VERY easy. Took me about 25 minutes to get every wire from each speaker trough one hole behind my reciever for a 7.1 surround home theater. This idea especially works for front speakers where you have a TV mounted to the wall and your center and left+right speakers mounted to the wall next to it.




    Hope this helps.

    A.
     

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