Running network cable in 2 story home: Can I do it? Can you help?

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by sabregen, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. sabregen

    sabregen PermaTroll

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    Guys and Gals. "Okay, here's the situation, my parents went away for a weeks vacation. They left the keys..." Wait, that's not my life. /Reset

    My wife and I bought a home last October. We were originally looking at having one built with all of the options that we chose, but a pre-existing home to someone else's spec came up for sale when the original buyers backed out, so we snapped it up. In the house that were were going to have built, I had negotiated to show up during the framing portion, after all the electrical was in, to run my own cables, but that went out the window whn we bought the spec home. So, we have a 2 story house, almost 2500 square feet, and computers all over the place. I currently am running a wireless bridge between the upstairs and downstairs connected devices.

    The problem is, of course, that I've always hated wireless, and have no intention of continuing to use wireless, as I am building out an HTPC and busy converting all of my HD-DVD's to .MKV contained files for playback over the network. Long story short, screw wireless.

    I am completely capable of running cable in normal single story environments, punching down cables, etc. My personal issue is in the multiple story house scenario, and trying to find a good way to run cables to all rooms in the house. I do have attic space, but no crawl space, and no basement. My computer room is on the upper level of the house. There's 4 upstairs bedrooms, a downstairs office, and the living room where the current DD-WRT wireless bridge is.

    I just am not sure how best to run the cables from floor to floor, and doing it externally, surface mounted with cable retention mechanisms is against the home owners association rules, which is fine because It'd be pretty ugly. I know I'll need a fish tape to do this. The upstairs room solution is pretty obvious, go vertically up through the wall in the computer room into the attic space, run the cables to where they need to go, then drop then down into the rooms, punch them into the back of a wall plate, done. However, I know that I will have to go through horizontal 2x4 cross beams to make it all the way through the wall. How can I accomplish this, or am I mistaken in that assumption? Most construction that I have seen of walls that are 8 feet high have a crossbeam at about chest level.

    More concerning is how to get the cable downstairs without going external? I have done rough sketches of the layout of the upstairs and downstairs. They're not to scale, to be sure, but more of a reference to anyone that might be able to help me out. Thanks in advance.

    Josh

    Upstairs: [​IMG]
    Downstairs: [​IMG]
     
  2. jratzo

    jratzo Limp Gawd

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    Do you have any closets right about each other? In my house I ran all the cables up through one closet into another closet and then right up into the attic. From there you can drop it down in the walls to each of the upstairs rooms

    EDIT: Just noticed that you want to run them downstairs. The closet idea could still apply
     
  3. sabregen

    sabregen PermaTroll

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    The computer room has no closets, but all of the upstairs bedrooms do. I'm just not sure how to get the cable downstairs efficiently without making a mess that I have to explain to my wife.
     
  4. Michael Daly

    Michael Daly [H]ard|Gawd

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    Closet-closet is definitely an easy way to do these things - as long as no one objects to the wires showing along the baseboards or down the corners inside the closets.

    As far as horizontal braces between the studs - they aren't always there. You can get a stud finder at a hardware/home improvement store (HHIS) and see if you can find convenient locations in the rooms where they don't exist. There are "installer bits" at the HHIS that you will need - typically 18" long. They are specifically made for running wires through walls. There are also versions of these drill bits that are up to 6' feet long! (e.g. this) They may allow you to drill from the attic through the top plate of the wall down through the mid-height brace.

    If you really have a problem, don't be shy to learn how to cut a decent sized hole in the drywall and use the room to get the stuff done. Then use some drywall to make a patch over the hole, tape around it and glop it with "mud" and sand away. Then prime and paint. The advantage if having a recently built house is that painting over the patch will not involve new paint on a faded-colour wall.
     
  5. sabregen

    sabregen PermaTroll

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    doh...i have heavily textured walls...and they're all painted already (we kind of went nuts). good idea on the stud finder and the longer bit. that will certainly be useful in getting up into the attic. anyone have ideas on the downstairs runs?
     
  6. Dan_D

    Dan_D [H]ardOCP Motherboard Editor

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    Running cable when you can't get over the walls (such as inside an attic or something) is VERY difficult to do if not impossible. I've got some limited crawlspace. Fortunately in the house I'm in now the downstairs rooms all have RJ-45 jacks in them. I've got a couple upstairs but none in the rooms. I ended up running from the wall jack under the carpet by the tackstrip to the rooms I needed network in. So in my computer room I have a hub hidden in the closet and I ran all the cables I needed out and under the carpet close to the wall.
     
  7. jratzo

    jratzo Limp Gawd

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    Here is another idea, uses a bit more cable. You could go up from the computer room to the attic and then bring it back down to the other rooms and go down to the closet to the first floor. Not sure if this would get it to where you want though.
     
  8. limxdul

    limxdul Limp Gawd

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    If you don't want to drill holes, then you'll have to string the cable and attach it to the outside wall of your house. Or if you have a lot of carpet, and your stairs are carpeted, you can try to run it along the edge.
     
  9. Michael Daly

    Michael Daly [H]ard|Gawd

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    Ok - skip the drywall stuff.

    You could consider pulling up the baseboards :)

    Do you have forced-air heating/AC? You could run plenum wiring inside the ducts. Around here, plenum-rated Cat5e is roughly the same price as regular Cat5e and is readily available at big-box hardware stores.
     
  10. valve1138

    valve1138 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    How many of those interior walls line up between the first and second floors? Also pulling cable up the exterior walls isn't too bad when it's the side of the house where the roof peaks, not where it slopes down. Use a stud finder to check for cross bracing.

    In those situations pulling cable is pretty straightforward.

    For the second floor, easy, just run the cable in the attic and down the walls. And continue them down for any first floor room where a wall lines up between the two floors.

    In my house I pulled cable up from the basement where my network gear is, all the way up to the attic in an exterior wall (the side of the roof), and then back down the interior walls of the second floor. Was really straightforward.
     
  11. sabregen

    sabregen PermaTroll

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    interesting idea. I guess that could work, as we have forced air. There's no ducts in the rooms that are anywhere near where I'd like the drops though. GUess I could run them under the carpet once they come out of the vent. Not the cleanest install, but it could work.
     
  12. sabregen

    sabregen PermaTroll

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    This sounds like a great idea. How do I check to see if the walls on the first and second floors line up? Bang on something? LOL.

    This problem is kind of retarded to me. I can do all of the complex stuff (networking side of it) but the easy stuff eludes me (smacks forehead).
     
  13. Ockie

    Ockie *** Self Proclaimed Storage King ***

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    Follow stacked cabinets or closets. Check fresh air return vents, check support channels, check garage options (sometimes the garage overlaps both the first floor and second floor. Flat worm ethernet cable is possible to run under the carpet. Flat wall ethernet cable is possible to mud into the wall. If you have vynl siding on your home, this can be pulled back and cables can be ran underneath, you can use the corners of the home for channels to run up into the attic or simply to each room.

    Another option is powerline networking or wireless.
     
  14. valve1138

    valve1138 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Measure in from an exterior wall if it's even on the outside of the house.

    Or you can measure off the stair for other spots since that is definately lined up between floors.
     
  15. Cobalt2112

    Cobalt2112 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Skipped right to the bottom here.. .did anyone suggest using 802.11 N to overcome the cable clutter and your infidelity with 802.11 G ? Maybe you have a channel conflict with another device or cordless phone and so why you hate wireless ?

    Or you want to do totally away from wireless ?
     
  16. sabregen

    sabregen PermaTroll

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    There's no stacked closets, so that's out. Fresh air returns are a possibility, but not preferred. Support channels are my most likely option. Flat worm cable is probably a good idea too. Our house (being in New Mexico) is stucco on the outside.
     
  17. sabregen

    sabregen PermaTroll

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    I need to stream 1080p content from one end of the house to the other. Most of the wireless N stuff that is in my budget doesn't have a gigabit ethernet uplink, which means that you're saturating the uplink with even one N connected client, which is retarded. For the price of a decent N access point or router I can wire my whole house and be done with it. I'll keep B+G mixed mode for laptops and surfing, but any permanent machines on the network will be wired.

    I have no home phone, and there's no other wireless devices in the entire house (at least, not wireless radios).
     
  18. valve1138

    valve1138 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I just remembered that there's a product that basically turns your baseboard moulding into a raceway which would be great for the first floor as you'd only need to find one way up. It looked cool if I remember correctly.

    I'll see if I can find it.

    edit: Found it. But they've discontinued it.

    http://www.wiretracks.com/order.html

    There's a bunch up on ebay though as they stated on their page. 8 available packages of 80' total per package.

    This might work out great for you.
     
  19. Ockie

    Ockie *** Self Proclaimed Storage King ***

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    This is the first time I've seen a product like this, this is great. Thanks for the linkage.
     
  20. Dizzle13

    Dizzle13 n00bie

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    Hey OP - if you're still around this forum (as this is an old thread)...did you ever go through with this?

    I'm looking to do the same thing, just slightly different needs. I've a 2 story house with attic space built on slab. For a twist in install, I also have insulation in the interior walls (as well as exterior of course) and also in between the first and second floors (not a major issue, but certainly will make it a little harder). Another joy is that the house is rigged with a sprinkler system too, so need to be careful not to tap into those lines as well.

    I'm looking to wire an 8 Channel NVR / PoE Camera system and don't want the EMT Conduit look outside the house. While at it, may as well do some Ethernet drops in the rooms upstairs for Smart TV's, and computing when the kiddos get older, wont have to suck down on the WiFi.

    I believe my Pantry (downstairs, center of house) lines up with my kids closet upstairs. I think I can (relatively) easily go from downstairs up through that route, into attic, and then drop down to the other rooms on the second story where the cameras will likely be positioned, roughly 11ft up from the ground, which should line up to about floor level of the second story.

    If you did complete your install, and took pictures....please share.

    If in the few years from this initial post anyone has any additional suggestions or wisdom, please post up.

    Thanks
     
  21. capt_cope

    capt_cope Gawd

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    You should look into buying (or maybe renting) one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Magnepull-XP1000-LC-Wire-Pulling-System/dp/B000YJB5WO
     
  22. k1pp3r

    k1pp3r [H]ardness Supreme

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    I found a common wall that went all the way from the basement to the attic (through 1st and 2nd floor), and ran a 2 inch conduit up that wall.

    This was in my last house, worked like a champ!
     
  23. Dizzle13

    Dizzle13 n00bie

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    Am I a dummy, or is this different then wire fish tape? Checked out the link and cant seem to visualize how it works. Never the less, some type of wire fishing tool will certainly be a must.

    Luckily I was able to see the build of my house from start to finish and I took a ton of pictures all throughout the process. I'm going to check out the pictures on my computer this weekend and see if I cant find something similar to what you had as well.

    I'm thinking my best shot is through the Pantry // up to kids closet // up to attic. Looping some conduit would be ideal as it would make the wire push all the easier with it not having any obstructions, just skeptical on the feasibility. I know forsure I'm going to need to go through the plywood floor at a minimum (no biggy).


    Appreciate the responses.
     
  24. bds1904

    bds1904 Gawd

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    Below are the main things I use to get through any wall in a house. You can fish through anything with this stuff, fire stops and all. I don’t believe in running conduit through closets, it’s the wrong way to do things.

    The key is the technique of cutting in jacks stacked on top of each other floor to floor. Start in the attic, fish the wall on the upper floor to a box you cut in, then drill through the first floor header to fish the lower floor. Blank wall plates can be used to cover the holes on the upper floor if you don’t need or want wires there.



    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000YJB5WO/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_681.AbJYHWR8A

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-T...PIPHorizontal2_rr-_-203872161-_-203872163-_-N


    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-T...H=REC-_-irg_aic-1-_-203872163-_-203913339-_-N

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial-Electric-1-Gang-Low-Voltage-Mounting-Bracket-5041/206415713
     
  25. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Don’t discount witeless entirely. Ditch the cheap wireless router and cheap bridge. Buy a $300-$400 current generation AC wireless router with multiple CPUs and some broadcasting power. Something like the Netgear Nighthawk x8 or x10 and try wireless that’s on the level or theoretically faster than 1Gb wired. (1300Mb)

    I use a ASUS AC3100 and it covers my whole 3400 sq ft house with ease and I love it. But those top end netgears have even greater coverage. Cheap wireless routers barely cover my ground floor in comparison.

    We’ve tested these consumer routers at work and they are very impressive. 50 people can stream YouTube/surf the web at the same time without any hitch in a playback or experience. We bought one for my medium sized church and it runs all the congregation devices on Sunday without any complaints ever - and broadcasts to the whole building with no need for extenders.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  26. Skillz

    Skillz [H]ard DCOTY 2017

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    It uses a magnet to slide the guide through the wall.
     
  27. Monkey34

    Monkey34 [H]ardness Supreme

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    I ran mine up the space where my sewer line passes through......runs right from the basement to the attic.
     
  28. Dizzle13

    Dizzle13 n00bie

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    Thanks for the links and tips. The tip of starting in attic as opposed to ground level is helpful, too. I would have started at first floor and worked way up.

    Main problem is that I want to do two tasks at once:

    1) run 8 lines for an 8 Channel NVR PoE Security camera system

    2) pre-wire (since I’m already doing the cameras now) network drops for connected internet to the upstairs bedrooms while the router is downstairs. (Note the current set up, ATT tapped into the CAT5 phone jack for my modem, and I’m going to run CAT6 all throughout.)


    Good info, and I’m not 100% anti-WiFi. However, the primary function is two fold.

    1) PoE Security Cameras around the house.
    2) “Future Proofing” the home network. I’ve three kiddos and who knows what crazy ass tech is comming ten+ years from now. Putting drops in the rooms will allow me to plug in directly to smart tv’s and kids games/computers down the road, and save my airwaves for my Sonos, other Smart home stuff down the road and misc WiFi uses unbeknownst to me just yet.

    Bingo. Makes perfect sense now. Thanks.
     
  29. dar124

    dar124 Gawd

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    I did this same thing to run coax & network cables from my basement to our 2nd floor and then continue a few runs up to the attic. Then the runs in the attic we were able to drop down the exterior walls into a few rooms. Worked like a charm!!!
     
  30. nEo717

    nEo717 Limp Gawd

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    Find HVAC (never good idea to run cables inside HVAC) or main plumbing runs and drop cables down from the attic to the lower rooms - If you get into fire blocks and somehow hung up, then cut a small access hole in drywall and repair when done.

    If want the MDF with main switch to be hidden out of the way you can make a small false ceiling in one of corners of the closet (just foot or so tall), its a good idea to put a vent on false ceiling and thing about quick removal (think removal attic doors).

    Its not as hard as it sounds most times.