running "structured wiring"

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As I'm getting closer to completing rewiring my 2nd floor, I'm thinking that I would like to put cable, internet, phone, etc. in all the bedrooms while I'm messing around... sounds like the easiest way to do this would be to use a "structured wiring" panel with the special cables - 2x RG-6 and 2x CAT-6 - and I'm wondering what is the best way to wire this. I'm thinking currently that maybe I would need to run smurf tube in directly from the basement to the attic, and then drop down the walls in the bedrooms. I'm thinking that i would need 3 of those cables (3 bedrooms) plus another RG-6 for a future roof antenna installation. (I already have cable, but would like to also have the ability to watch OTA TV. Sometimes the picture is actually better, but rabbit ears only work well on the 2nd floor.) I'm assuming the right way to do this would be to cut little coupons out of the wall at the floor and ceiling and use a right angle drill with a hole saw to get through the sill plates/floor/subfloor?
So... given those cable requirements, what size smurf tube would I need? Or there is an unused PVC conduit running up along my chimney that was for a PO's PV installation, could I just repurpose that? I guess what I'm really looking for is guidance from someone who's used these products before as to what size will make for easy pulling.
Also, in this kind of installation, do I need to have boxes at the ends of the smurf tube or PVC, or can I just use bushings and then split the cables from there? (do they even make bushings for smurf tube?)
Where can I *find* short lengths of large diameter smurf tube? Is that something that would likely be available at your local electrical supply house?
Finally, for running the cables in the basement (exposed joists) is there any kind of small "cable tray" arrangement I could use rather than stapling to joists or continuing smurf tube to the panel?
thanks,
Nate
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*Those prefabricated structured cables can be very expensive and quite big. The individual spools are cheaper. If your attic is going to remain accessible and unfinished I would suggest that you create a hub up there from which to feed each room.
If the existing PVC is large enough then go ahead and use it. I've never used Smurf tubing and I don't know what the availability is. I seem to recall seeing it at Home Depot a long time ago, but not lately. You could just pull the cables up without a conduit. I wouldn't bother with conduit at all. It just makes more work for the job and the cables are fine without it.
There are tie wraps made which have a screw hole in them for attaching to surfaces. You can screw them to walls and ceilings, make a loose loop, pull your wires through, and then tighten up the tie wraps.
You don't necessarily need boxes for your terminations, but if there is risk of the junctions becoming damaged, a pull box can be used. You could also use patch panels, but they can add more to the cost.
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On 06/20/2010 12:33 PM, John Grabowski wrote:

the real reason that I ask is that I currently don't have a path from the basement to the attic. I was thinking smurf tube or PVC so that I would create one that I could then use in the future if I found that I needed to pull another run of LV something or other. (obviously I will leave a string in there for future use even after cables are pulled through.) Thinking smurf tube because I don't believe there is a straight shot, it would have to curve from one stud bay into another to get around ductwork if I choose to go the in-wall route (I kinda like that; that way you don't have phone and/or Internet wiring run outside the house, where people could theoretically cut it. I know, paranoia, but it is a bit of a horror-movie cliche, presumably for a reason. If someone really wants to screw with you in your house, the first thing they do is to cut your connection to the outside world.) Was also wondering if I would need a different type of cable if it were to be run outdoors but inside PVC.
I also need to do the same thing for 120v in two locations on the 2nd floor, but one of them I think I will feed off the smoke detectors (which I have not yet installed) so I will have to out of necessity run that not in a chase because I will be installing at least one SD on the 1st floor and one in the basement. I have not yet figured out how to do the other one. I am thinking that I might be able to sneak it down a plumbing chase. I hope.
nate
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wrote:

on the end and screw on a bushing. I am not sure whether it is really necessary. You can usually find "cut to order" smurf in a supply house up to 2" if it is used in your area. Some AHJs like it, some hate it. I would just use 3/4". If you stagger the ends you can pull quite a few CAT 5s in a 3/4 and you can do 3 RG6s with F connectors. Don't waste your money on the orange "low voltage" smurf. It is lower quality and usually about the same price.
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Nate Nagel wrote:

Compare the price per foot of that composite cable vs. the equivalent separate cables. Pulling cables isn't difficult.

Typically, basement up to the first floor rooms, and attic down to second floor rooms. Any available chase from basement to attic is useful for the later. You probably don't want to run smurf tube home runs all the way, better to run up a single conduit to a pull box in the attic and distribute from there. Since this is low voltage you do not need to have everything in conduit.

You should be able to drill up from the basement or down from the attic with an "installer's bit", or a regular spade bit in most cases.

You really don't need smurf tube at all unless you want to spend the money and make adding future cables more difficult.

They make all the appropriate bushings for smurf tube, but you do not need boxes at all for low voltage work. CADDY makes some nice metal low voltage rings that trim the opening in the drywall, provide the mounting screw holes for the cover plate and have bend over ears that wrap around and secure to the drywall with a couple screws. There is no box, so there are no issues jamming all the wires into a box when you have a fully loaded six pack plate of phone, network and coax cables.

They might, but you don't need it.

Look online for the "CADDY" brand of hangers and fasteners. My recommendation would be a plywood backboard in the basement divided into RF, phone and data areas, CADDY J hook type hangers to carry the lines from the backboard to the various first floor points and the chase to the attic, then more CADDY J hooks in the attic to carry across to various second floor points. Pull the conductors up or down into the walls at the appropriate points and use the CADDY low voltage rings at the "box" locations. I like the Leviton modular wall plates and use the 6 port plates everywhere, putting the blank fillers in currently unused ports.
I have a single story house with no basement here in TX, and I have my server rack in the back corner of the garage. Behind the rack on the wall I have a plywood backer board with a RF splitter, a cat5 patch panel with 110 punchdown back, and a phone 110 patch block. I have a length of 2" PVC conduit that is clamped at the top of the backer board and runs up into the attic. In the attic the wires come out of that conduit and transition onto J hooks on the rafters where they run off to wherever they need to go and then drop down into the walls, or on the case of the shop feed, drop down into a 1" PVC conduit that takes them down the wall, then out and underground 80' to the shop.
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Nate Nagel wrote:

Why bother. Go wireless.
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On 06/20/2010 01:24 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

wireless cable TV? Wireless antenna? I already have wireless Internet, but would prefer wired because of the significant speed advantages.
Also, my thought is that for a little work, it would make an older house more appealing for buyers to have all this work done, were we to sell.
nate
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Because i can get 1 gigabit speed on my wired network. Having both is great especially if he has a chance before the drywall goes up.
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On 06/20/2010 07:42 PM, RickH wrote:

No drywall here. Plaster. Old.
nate
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/running-structured-wiring-448448-.htm DA wrote:
Nate Nagel wrote:

I think you are over-engineering it. There are basically two reasons people use the smurf : to protect a delicate and/or expensive cable such as fiber optics (except in reality it's strong as hell and needs no extra protection) and to provide a path for future cables that cannot be pulled immediately for whatever reason before the walls (ceilings) close.
If you attempted to pull the smurf first, then the cables, you are guaranteed to mess with structural integrity of your house because the corrugated conduit of any useable size will require you to drill 2"+ holes in the studs/joists/beareres/etc which is much larger than your average wooden stick-construction home can withstand without consequences. Also, answering your questions about smurf size - there is no size that's easier to pull. Because of the ribs the stuff is a bi*ch to pull whatever size, especially in the tight spaces of a residential home.
The existing PVC (provided by it starts and ends close enough to where you need to go) is absolutely the way to go. Here is a conduit capacity table you can use to figure out how many cables will fit:
http://www.cabling-design.com/interaction/tips/19Apr20041.shtml For second floor outlets go up in the attic, then drill the top plate and come down inside the wall - much easier than any in-wall horizontal run. Stay away from the outside walls. Make sure the cables lay underneath the attic insulation to ease the temperature extremes.
Also, in a retrofit like yours there is no issue at all to go "bare cable" - since most of the construction is complete, the chances that you damage the cable later by drilling, nailing, stapling into it are slim to none. Also, the runs in a home are just not long enough to worry about unsupported cables in the vertical span even if you had to go three floors from basement to attic.

J-hooks that someone had mentioned here are nice but even the smallest might be an overkill, especially if your cables spread out shortly after leaving the IC. Just use Ty wraps with a screw eyelet, screw one per 3-4' to the joist and don't actually tie them all the way - leave plenty of slack for any future cables or, if you like neat cable jobs, do tie them down fully after you are 100% sure you're done adding cables (and then next day you realize you forgot one :) )
Good luck!
------------------------------------- /\_/\ ((@v@)) NIGHT ():::() OWL VV-VV
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On 06/20/2010 05:41 PM, DA wrote:

But the question is, will the insulation/dielectric in the RG6 and CAT6 be OK if run outside, but inside a PVC? There wouldn't be any UV exposure, but it is on the south side of the house, and it is 90 degrees outside right now measured in the shade. I honestly don't know the answer or I wouldn't be asking.
It seems that if the temperature isn't an issue that everyone seems to be agreeing that that will be the easiest install...
From your table it sounds like I'm looking at a min. 1" conduit for *only* the CAT6 so it looks like I'm looking at putting in new stuff no matter what I do. The RG6 that I have without ends is about 5/16" dia or about 8mm so by that table I would need a 1-1/2" ot 2" pipe just for those alone. Sheesh! I knew it was going to be big but that is silly.
Does anyone know what the diameters of those "structured cable" bundles are? The one that I bothered to look up was Belden 7876A and that is listed as 0.2" which seems like it "can't possibly be right" (how would regular coax ends work?) but if true would make for a much easier install than using separate cables. I found it on a retailer's web site listed as CAT6 but Belden only lists it as CAT 5e, not sure if that would be OK or not. I am planning on using gigabit ethernet.

yes, that was the plan. It's just getting it up into the attic that's going to be a PITA - house has forced air heat which is taking up most of the available wall space, and I don't have any handy stacked closets or anything like that (bedroom closets are over the main entry to the house... d'oh!)

yes... again, my concern was leaving a path so that I could pull add'l cables in the future if necessary without cutting the walls open again...

Indeed. I can't imagine that *not* happening, in fact :)
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

You can run EMT (lightweight metal conduit) inside one of those FHA ducts and terminate it in a pull box outside the duct on either end and use that as your cable chase. No need for plenum rated cable if it is inside metal conduit.
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On 06/20/2010 07:42 PM, Pete C. wrote:

Hey... now there's an idea. I won't get hammered for doing doglick work if I do that though will I? I'm assuming that a return duct would be the preferred way to handle this...
nate
(I did run phone wires up a laundry chute once, after a landlord lied to us about there being phone jacks in the bedrooms despite my specifically asking...)
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Nate Nagel wrote:

Yes, a return would be preferred.
Another option is usually the plumbing chase along side the waste stack where there is often room.
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On 06/20/2010 09:01 PM, Pete C. wrote:

I only have two stacks in this house, and one is not in a chase (I can actually see the pipe sticking through the plaster in the wall of one of the closets.) I'm going to find out as soon as I have a cool Saturday whether or not I can drop a line through there, but I'm worried about there being blocking etc that I wouldn't be able to get through for e.g. a 2" piece of PVC (immediately, I'm just trying to get a run of Romex through there for a 120v feed for the bathroom)
nate
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I have an interior wall that passes thorugh a closet on our 2nd floor and a storage sapce on the first. I cut away a 2'x2' opening in the wall board at the floor of each and made a removable access panel. Now when I need to runa wire from attic to crawl I can remove the panels and drill new holes. Then just drop the wire down from the attic.
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/running-structured-wiring-448448-.htm DA wrote:
Nate Nagel wrote:

Let me back up here 'cause I seem to have missed an important detail: no, if running outside cannot be avoided then you have to shield it somehow and rigid PVC is still the best way to go. The high (or very low) temperature by itself is not really a problem but combined with *any* movement of the cable it will destroy an indoor cable in 5-6 years. The high temperature makes the PVC outer jacket brittle because the plasticizers tend to escape with heat and the jacket then cracks letting the water in. Water freezes in winter and makes the cracks even worse, well, you get the picture.
But you can almost be sure you can avoid running cables outside if you spend enough time studying the house's construction and the distribution of pipes and electrical cables. The cable company that should remain unnamed runs their coaxes outside (thus ruining both siding and the curb appeal) because the free install does not justify any time spent looking for how to best pull the cables. If they cared to look, they'd find it in almost 100% of the time.

You can fit 6 x CAT6 cables in a 1" conduit. If you think that's too few, you must be forgetting that the cables are:
#1 not perfectly straight coming of of the box and do *not* go straight to neatly fill all the available space. #2 are *not* perfectly smooth and round cylinders - many have bulges and ribs (internal twists) sticking out enough to make them rub against each other and any other surface. #3 if the conduit has any turns, it limits its available cross-section because the cable bundle needs more space to turn

Belden 7876A Nominal Overall OD: .610"
BUT:
Don't ever use bundled cable if you are pulling it yourself. They are designed to be used on projects with Union labor involved where any extra minute of their time spent onsite eats into the owner's profit. Even then, I'm not convinced they provide as much time savings as touted. Other than (allegedly) installation time every other feature of the bundled cables is on the minus side: they are heavy and bulky, they have significantly increased minimum bending radius, they are PITA to terminate nicely, they are more expensive than the sum of their components.
I'm going to open that can of worms and say that you don't need CAT6 in a residential house: 1GB Ethernet will work just fine and even 10G might if your house is smaller than Bill Gates'. Just shop around for CAT5E and buy the second of third cheapest one (or just one by a known manufacturer). Cat5E has been around for 11 years now (and 5 years without the "E" before that) and by now most of them show very solid performance in the range you will need for a residential environment.

Do *not* ever drill into the air handlers and use them for distribution! They may look appealing now but think about several years down the line after the cables sat in there attracting all the dust and pet hair (my personal "pet" peeve, pun intended). It will be a cleaning nightmare and you can damage the cables during cleaning. Also, the above mentioned PVC plasticizers are known (or at least alleged, depending on who you ask) to be cancerogen substances. Do you want all that stuff conveniently distributed around the house by forced air?

Whether you use the flex duct, rigid PVC, EMT or none of that, always pull a pull string with the cables and securely attach both ends when done pulling. If you used a duct but forgot the pull string, it won't do much good for your future cables 'cause any type of conduit that already has cables in it is a bi*ch to add cables to unless ample space has been left in it. On the other hand, a pull string that's available to you will make it easy to pull an extra cable behind the wall even if nothing else guides the new cable. Just don't forget to pull another pull string with the new cable, too. You never actually know when you are done pulling. I'm running out of the first 24-port patch panel already, and I've only been 2 years in this house :)

Good luck!
------------------------------------- /\_/\ ((@v@)) NIGHT ():::() OWL VV-VV
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On Jun 21, 10:45am, info_at_1-script_dot snipped-for-privacy@foo.com (DA) wrote:

Thats right, I'm getting measured 1GB over cat5e and cat5 installed in 1998. In a commercial setting to get gigabit certification it would have to be cat6 wire and jacks, but in a home cat5e properly terminated should get to 1GB too, if it doesnt then your switch/router should downgrade it to 100MB automatically.
Running cat5/6 wire is really the most useful wire down the road everything these days seems to be pluggable into your LAN, including stereo receivers, TV's, DVR's, DVD players, cameras, lighting control, iPads, etc. Having a nice fast LAN will make getting entertainment streaming and advanced communication to any room a breeze.
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On Mon, 21 Jun 2010 10:20:21 -0700 (PDT), RickH

Shorter runs in a house makes for higher performance. Commercial installs can run 300 ft.
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I'd home run more cat6 lines in every room too. About 10 years ago the recommendation was for two cat5e lines per room one for voice and one for data. Additionaly it is now possible (with baluns and adapters) to send HDMI and all kinds of other signals over cat6, consider 4 cat6 runs per room 3 to a lower floor mud plate and 1 to the mudplate at the room entry for advanced control panels. Additionally for any security cameras home run cat6 for those too they can be plugged directly to the lan and not being RF you dont have to worry about neibors seeing your camera signals.
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