Wiring Ethernet and Coax Cable for Internet, Phone & TV

Oct
2013
12

posted by on Home Improvement & Repairs

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Wiring ethernet cable (cat5 cable) for your internet and phones, and coax cable for your TVs is really quite easy and can save you a lot of money over hiring a contractor. Both coaxial cable and cat5e wire are low voltage wire that anyone can run in very little time.

My son in-law called last week asking for some help wiring ethernet and coax cable in their new town home that was being built. This was the one and only thing that their builder would allow them to do themselves. The builder had provided very little in this area, only one TV and one Phone per floor.  As we headed out to tackle the job I grabbed my camera. Here are some step by step instructions on wiring ethernet and coax cable when building a new home or finishing off your basement. It takes just a few hours and it is simple to do.

wiring ethernet

If you are working on an existing house that already has both internet and television runs to various rooms you will need to find where those runs come to. Usually they will be in an unfinished area of the home. If you have a basement, that is usually where they all are run to. It might also be in a pantry or closet depending on your home design. The key is to find where all of these connections dead end. It will be where your router or cable modem is located. This is where you will be bringing your new runs to. If it is a finished area it will be difficult if not impossible to add additional runs unless you have access to it from an adjoining unfinished room.

If you are working with new construction and you are wiring ethernet and coax cable for Internet, Phones and TV then you will first pick where you want your equipment to be. This is where you will run all of your cable/wiring runs to. In this type of wiring, every run is a home run. You can’t jump from destination to destination in a daisy chain fashion like you can with high voltage lines. Once you have decided where you want all of your equipment (router, TV, and phone punch downs) to be you will need to run a home run coaxial cable and a home run cat5e cable from this destination to the outside of your home where the phone, cable and or internet companies will bring their runs to. Now lets get started.

These are the things you will need for wiring ethernet.  wire cutters

electrical wire cutters You can buy this great pair here.
A small ladder (A good step ladder is easier to work with than a heavy ladder. Two would be handy.)
Long grounded extension cords (Several if you are doing new construction in order to reach the power box.)
1/2 inch hole hawg electric drill with a 3/4″ long bit (see picture below). You can rent one or buy this one here.
hammer
tape measure
electrical staples
electrical tape
duct tape or labels
a marker for labeling
single gang plastic electrical boxes
(one for each location)
a roll of Coaxial cable – T.V.
a roll of CAT5E wire –  internet and phones.

wiring ethernet

It’s cheaper to buy a larger roll of cable and wire. You ALWAYS use more than you think you will. Even in a small home we probably used over 250 feet. Remember every run is it’s own separate run.

Step One – Nailing the boxes

Decide on were you want your cable outlets and start marking the studs for the electrical boxes.  You will want to make the boxes the same height from the floor as the boxes for your regular electrical plugs.

wiring ethernet

Use single gang plastic electrical boxes.  The boxes have raised guides to help you properly nail the box the proper depth for a sheet rock wall.

wiring ethernet

I found it worked much better if I would just start both nails, holding firmly onto the box and making sure it is lined up properly before fully hammering the nails into the wall.

wiring ethernet

Step Two – Drilling your holes

After you have your boxes in place, make a mental image of the best path for your wires to run. Remember that your wires have to stay within the walls, ceilings, or through the floor joist.  Do not run your low voltage wire along the same path as your high voltage wiring.  They may cross occasionally but try to keep them from running parallel side by side.  This can cause interference with your low voltage signal. Keep them a foot or so apart.   Don’t start drilling until you know the path you want your wires to take. Make sure your know what is behind a wall before your start drilling.

wiring ethernet

wiring ethernet

 Carefully drill your holes in the center of each stud.

wiring ethernet

 If you have wires running through the floor joist, you can easily just punch out the scored holes with a hammer.

Step Three – Pulling the wire

You can run both coax and cat5e wires at the same time if  the destination has bot TV and Phone or Internet. It makes the job easier if you use some electrical tape and tape the ends of your wire together.  Remember that you must run one continuous wire from the box to the end of the run where you are planning on having your equipment. (router, TV splitters, phone punch down.) You may be running several wires to one box depending on what you want at your box. You can have up to six connections in one single gang box, if you are running speaker, phone, cable, and TV to the same box.  We were running just TV and internet on most of our runs.  Be careful to keep your wire from kinking. The cat5 wire tends to kink easily so be careful.  If the wire doesn’t pull easily, check to see why.  It helps a lot to have two or three people along the path, to keep the wire pulling without tangling up.  Make sure you give yourself about a foot extra at the box and then several feet extra at the other end before cutting your wire.

wiring ethernet

Step Four – Securing and labeling the wire.

Take a few minutes to take the slack out of your wire and secure it with electrical staples along it’s path.  You don’t need too many staples,  just enough to keep the wires from getting in the way of the sheet rock.  Hammer the staples in, leaving plenty of space between the staple and the wire.  You don’t want to crimp or damage your wires.

wiring ethernet

As you finish each run take some duct tape or any type of sticky label to mark the end of each wire.  Label each so you know where the wire is coming from.  (family room, kitchen, den etc.)  Don’t wait until they are all run or it is next to impossible to figure it out. (Although easier than once the sheet rock is up.) You can use a tone generator designed to find which wire is which, but it s a pain and this is much easier and cheaper.

wiring ethernet

Staple the wires running next to the box.  Push out two tabs in the box and run the wire through the box and out the other end with about eight inches past the box.  Loosely staple the end of these wires.  Make sure that you will be able pull the ends of the wire back into the box during the finish electrical stage.

wiring ethernet

After all the or your wire has been run from each box and your wire is labeled, coil all the wires together and use some electrical tape to keep the bundle neatly together.  Your work is done until the house is ready for the finish electrical.

wiring ethernet

I want to thank my husband Mark who has helped with the information on the post.  We will post a blog on how to finish wiring ethernet and coax cable once my daughter’s house is ready for their finish electrical.  I’m guessing you will need some time to get to that point as well.  If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer your questions as quickly as I can.

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