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Old 11-26-2007, 10:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
Running speaker wire through the walls

So, the wife got a 'deal' on a speaker system/receive for Black Friday. Now it's my job to get the darn things set up. I've already figured out placement, and got mountings for 4 of the speakers (it's a 7.1 system, center speaker is in the TV stand, sub is on the floor next to the tv), I'm waiting on mounting brackets for the back pair. I need to hide the wires behind the walls for the six speakers I'm hanging on the walls. I've got crawlspace access below the entire room, and I've used one of those 'stud finders' to make myself reasonably sure I can run wire from the speakers down from the speaker to the floor inside the wall (ie, there don't seem to be any 'crossbeams' blocking the way. I've bought a 'fish tape' thing from home depot to pull the wire with. I've bought and measured the speaker wire (16 gauge). Any hints for getting the wire pulled? I'm not entirely clear on how to get this done. Most info I've seen says to pull the wire starting from the top and working down. I can definitely get the wire between the 2x4's, and the fish tape should help, but I'm a little fuzzy about how to get the wire into the crawlspace - do I:

o Insert fish tape with attached wire into a hole drilled from the speaker's location, and drill a really big hole from below so I can snag the fish tape from in the crawlspace?

Or it seems like it might be easier to run the fish tape *up* the wall from within the crawlspace and snag it with a hook of some kind.

Most of the instructons I've found on the internets seem to say that option #1 is the way to go, but I'm a little unclear on how this is supposed to work.
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Old 11-27-2007, 09:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Fishtape is meant to be pushed through a conduit so that wires may be attached and pulled through (if you've ever tried to push wiring through a conduit, you'll know why it is such a great invention )

Based on that, I would think that your second option would be the best, to push the tape up from the crawlspace and pull the wire back down. I installed phone wiring in my house this way, pushing the tape from the attic down the wall, then pulling the wire back up.

Either way, post back as to what method you used and how it worked out. (Oh, and enjoy the new audio setup )
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: The Great White North
Two things to consider:

1. there is speaker wire that looks like tape. You can paint over it and see almost nothing. This stuff isn't cheap but it is effective when you can't get some place up on a wall. They also make plastic "conduit" you can surface mount along your basboards and then run speaker wiire throug that.

2. If you use the crawl space you'll have a touch time getting the wire down a small hole and into another small hole. A way around this is to install a metal receptacle/switch-sized box (metal, not the plastic kind) in the wall where your speaker will be. You can then have a better chance of fishing the slim wire up a small hole (3/4" or so) in the floor sill plate and up to the box area because you can get your hand in the hole.

An electrical shop will be able to explain how you use flat metal strips to fasten the box in the wall. I can't remember what they call those strips. Just tell the supply house you want to install an electrical outlet/switch box where there is no stud in sheetrock. There are small lips that cscrew into the box to hold it outside the wall and the metal strips privide the tension inside the wall by folding over inside the box itself. That essentially pulls the box back and the lips keep it from going back in the hole.

Once you have that sorted out and the wire run, you can just use a receptacle faceplate with a hole in the middle to run out the wire or actually purchase the materials to install an RCA-type jack.

If this doesn't make sense, PM me and I'll try to do a better job of explaining.
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
... a sort of licensed troubleshooter.
 
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Drill the hole, run the tape down the hole into the crawl-space. Attach the tape to the wire and pull it up.
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Old 11-27-2007, 12:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Option 2 would be nearly impossible... don't even bother unless you enjoy frustration.

I would go with Option 1, however I'd tape a strong magnet on the end of the tape... then once you have the hole drilled through the baseplate from the crawlspace, you can use another magnet to attract the end of the tape to the hole location. This way, the hole won't need to be nearly as big. Once the tape is fished through to the crawlspace, attach the wire like will said and pull it back through.
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Old 11-27-2007, 04:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Where the night things are
A few things:
Depending on how high the speakers are being mounted, it might be easier to use a 5 or 6 foot long 3/8" drill bit. The flexible shaft allows you to cut a box opening in between studs, insert the bit in the hole, and drill through the bottom plate and subfloor. Once the bit is through, there is a hole in the tip running through the drill flutes to which you attach the wire. Remove the drill bit, and the wire is now pulled. Use caution! The bit is no smarter than the operator, and you can eff up plumbing, electrical, and other utilities in the wall if you're not careful.

Speaker wiring is considered low voltage, so it doesn't need a full device box to mount the speaker plate. Carlon makes low voltage 'rings' for old work in one and two gang sizes. Complete your drywall cutout, slip the ring into place and tighten with a philips screwdriver. Then you can attach a device plate with either a hole, or if you'd like a more professional look, get plates with red and black spring terminals on the face. Terminate the wires on the back side, and then you can cut just what you need to go from the wall plate to the speaker.

Locating the bottom of the wall from beneath is likely to be a bear. Most framing sits atop the deck sheathing, so your only cues are going to be other utility penetrations. 3 1/2" doesn't leave much margin for error.

Good luck
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Old 11-29-2007, 01:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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one of two standard ways should work. cut hole for old work box, drill hole from underneath, into the wall cavity from crawl, then either:
1. push fish down through hole into crawl, tape the wire to it and pull it back up,
2. If 1. doesn't work, then you might tape wire to fish in crawl and push up into wall cavity. They you use another fish or coathanger with a hook bent in end of it to grab the fish through your cutout and pull it into room.

Remember, you really should be using "in-wall" speaker wire. Regular stuff is not fire rated or approved for in-wall use. this holds true for any wires you put in-wall, including network wiring.
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Old 11-29-2007, 06:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbrooks544
one of two standard ways should work. cut hole for old work box, drill hole from underneath, into the wall cavity from crawl, then either:
1. push fish down through hole into crawl, tape the wire to it and pull it back up,
2. If 1. doesn't work, then you might tape wire to fish in crawl and push up into wall cavity. They you use another fish or coathanger with a hook bent in end of it to grab the fish through your cutout and pull it into room.

Remember, you really should be using "in-wall" speaker wire. Regular stuff is not fire rated or approved for in-wall use. this holds true for any wires you put in-wall, including network wiring.
Yep, I made sure to get the properly rated stuff at HD. I didn't go for the really expensive speaker wire, though, just standard 16 gauge. Seems to be sufficient, AFAICT.

I haven't had a chance to get to it yet, *hopefully* this weekend, but The Boy has a birthday party, so...we'll see.

Since you guys are so knowledgable, can I trouble you for one more piece of advice...

How shall I cover the holes in the walls for the speaker wires? For the receiver-end, something like this seems ok: http://www.crutchfield.com/App/Produ...l+plate&tp=552

But what about the other end? They make simple 2-port wall plates, but they are the same size as standard wall plates, which seems pretty big. It seems like a smaller plate would be ideal, but I can't find such a thing. Or, if I could just fit a 'collar' of some sort on the hole that I drill...or...something. I don't know.

Help?
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Old 12-01-2007, 08:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Location: Waddy Peytona
Some pro installer tricks (I'm writing this really fast...please respond if you need clarification)

Another way to route speaker wire is beneath or behind carpet tack-strips, baseboards, kick and quarter-round moulding, crown molding and under thresholds.

Another method requires a dremel type rotary cutter (hammer and chisel will work), joint compound or caulk, sandpaper, and touch-up paint:
If you do not have clean access through ceilings, subfloors and crawlspaces, try channeling a groove for the cable along seems like window moldings, wall corners, or where the wall meets the ceiling. If you are mounting surrounds in corners, route cable to the corner using any method, then channel a grove up the corner seem to the speaker location. The repairs are practically undetectable.

You can also route through ventalation ducts as long as you seal any access holes.

Remeber to use only inwall rated cable.
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
MSD
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Location: CT
Quote:
Originally Posted by robot_parade
How shall I cover the holes in the walls for the speaker wires? For the receiver-end, something like this seems ok: http://www.crutchfield.com/App/Produ...l+plate&tp=552

But what about the other end? They make simple 2-port wall plates, but they are the same size as standard wall plates, which seems pretty big. It seems like a smaller plate would be ideal, but I can't find such a thing. Or, if I could just fit a 'collar' of some sort on the hole that I drill...or...something. I don't know.

Help?
First of all, don't buy from Crutchfield unless the alternative is lighting your money on fire. Home Depot or Radio Shack should have wall plates with a hole for a single F connector in the middle. Get them, either paint them to match the wall or leave them white, and mount them behind each speaker*. You'll have 2.5x4 inch hole to work with for fishing the cable through, and it will look nice and professional.

To actually get the wire where it needs to go, drill a 1/4" hole from the crawlspace up into the wall. Cut out the spot where you're going to have the plate for the cable, and make sure it's right next to a stud. Tie a pull string to the fish tape and push it up from the crawlspace, leaning it against the stud so it's easy to find (two people and a ladder cut this from a 20 minute job to a 3 minute job.) Hold the pull string while to pull the fish tape back, then pull the speaker wire up to the plate, leaving two feet dangling. Mount the plate with the wire coming through, mount the speakers, attach the wire, then push the extra back into the wall. Plug holes you drilled in the floor with fire-resistant, water-resistant clay or expanding foam.

* - you mount a non-load-bearing, low voltage plate on something like this http://www.erico.com/products/CADDYc...rcktsMtllc.asp
that's what we use for plenum cable runs at work, and I'm sure HD has something in quantities of less than 100.
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Old 12-05-2007, 08:57 AM   #11 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSelfDestruct
First of all, don't buy from Crutchfield unless the alternative is lighting your money on fire. Home Depot or Radio Shack should have wall plates with a hole for a single F connector in the middle. Get them, either paint them to match the wall or leave them white, and mount them behind each speaker*. You'll have 2.5x4 inch hole to work with for fishing the cable through, and it will look nice and professional.

To actually get the wire where it needs to go, drill a 1/4" hole from the crawlspace up into the wall. Cut out the spot where you're going to have the plate for the cable, and make sure it's right next to a stud. Tie a pull string to the fish tape and push it up from the crawlspace, leaning it against the stud so it's easy to find (two people and a ladder cut this from a 20 minute job to a 3 minute job.) Hold the pull string while to pull the fish tape back, then pull the speaker wire up to the plate, leaving two feet dangling. Mount the plate with the wire coming through, mount the speakers, attach the wire, then push the extra back into the wall. Plug holes you drilled in the floor with fire-resistant, water-resistant clay or expanding foam.

* - you mount a non-load-bearing, low voltage plate on something like this http://www.erico.com/products/CADDYc...rcktsMtllc.asp
that's what we use for plenum cable runs at work, and I'm sure HD has something in quantities of less than 100.
Awesome, thanks for the advice! I was hoping to get something smaller than a 2.5x4 wall plate for the wall...but if that's the way to do it, then I guess that's the way I'll do it, and let the wife yell. ;-)

I think I've seen similar devices to the one you mention to attach the plate to - I'll take a look at HD next time.

Should have time to get it done Saturday, I hope...I'll give a full report.
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