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  • Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

    My current home theater setup has wiring for surround sound going along my baseboards to the rear speakers and I want to tidy up the room's appearance, as well as improve signal quality by running the wires under the floor. Rather than just drill straight down through the floor, I wanted to install an A/V wall plate behind my receiver, and connect it to a second A/V wall plate I will install across the room.

    I have a keyhole saw, stud finder, and just picked up a continuity tester. I was planning on shutting off the breaker, cutting the holes for the wall plates, and then feeding the in wall wire down to the basement. In the back of the room, I'll fish the other end of the cable up and then connect the speaker wires to the wall plate terminals. A big question I have is where do AC lines typically run within walls? Along studs? I should be okay sticking my saw halfway between studs then?

    This project shouldn't be too difficult, though I've never done it before. Any advice on how to go about doing it, or any additional tools I'll need to get a hold of would be helpful.

  • #2
    Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

    A bellhangers bit (long flexible shank auger drill bit) will be very useful. You can use the keyhole saw to make holes for the wall plates. Next put in an old work low voltage bracket (they are orange, and are just a place to screw a wall plate to). This will help protect your drywall as you drill. Then drill the hole (you need to go slow with the auger so it won't bind), leave it through the hole, tie a string to the end of the bit and pull it back up. Do this on both sides, and then you've got two strings you can use to fish the cable in the wall.

    You should probably buy a fish tape too, since it will make life easier (you can run the fish tape back up the holes, etc if you want). A 25' flat steel one is only about $13.

    What do you mean by AC lines? The ducts? You should be able to find where the AC Ducts are by looking down in your basement before you start drilling (you should do this to see if there are any wires as well).

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    • #3
      Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

      My basement ceiling is completely unfinished, do you think I could make do with a 1" spade drill bit going upwards to make the hole? If it's not all that expensive, I'll just get the bellhangers bit as you suggested.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

        Take a good look at the underside of the 1 floor flooring and also the joists and vertical studs while down in your basement. Speaker and other audio wire should not come too close to AC electrical wiring as you can pickup some inductive hum noise. Normally for speaker wire, I would think 1/4" - 3/8" holes should work pretty well. You can keep it in place using insulated phone/thermostat wire staples and be sure not to drive them in far enough to damage the insulation on the speaker wires.

        To keep polarity phasing correct try to get speaker wire where one conductor is bare copper and the other is tinned. You'll have a silver and gold color wire that way. Another method is to connect a battery up at one end and with a DC Volt meter check polarity at the other end.

        While you're at it, you might want to run Co-Ax audio or video cables just so you won't have to do so later on. Put simple, try to think out what you may want later on.

        Electrician's Fish Tape - http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...atalogId=10053
        I would go for the 50 footer over the 25 foot tape as you can use if for more jobs and not just electrical. Go for a steel rather than nylon tape. Greenlee and Ideal also make good tapes besides Klein.

        If you want, you can get a SPADE bit in say 1/4" and 3/8" and if you think it would help, they can be had in 4, 6 and 16 inch lengths. CPW's idea of a Bell Hanger bit is handy too.
        Last edited by Woussko; 05-20-2009, 04:01 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

          Originally posted by Woussko View Post
          Take a good look at the underside of the 1 floor flooring and also the joists and vertical studs while down in your basement. Speaker and other audio wire should not come too close to AC electrical wiring as you can pickup some inductive hum noise. Normally for speaker wire, I would think 1/4" - 3/8" holes should work pretty well. You can keep it in place using insulated phone/thermostat wire staples and be sure not to drive them in far enough to damage the insulation on the speaker wires.

          To keep polarity phasing correct try to get speaker wire where one conductor is bare copper and the other is tinned. You'll have a silver and gold color wire that way. Another method is to connect a battery up at one end and with a DC Volt meter check polarity at the other end.

          While you're at it, you might want to run Co-Ax audio or video cables just so you won't have to do so later on. Put simple, try to think out what you may want later on.

          Electrician's Fish Tape - http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...atalogId=10053
          I would go for the 50 footer over the 25 foot tape as you can use if for more jobs and not just electrical. Go for a steel rather than nylon tape. Greenlee and Ideal also make good tapes besides Klein.

          If you want, you can get a SPADE bit in say 1/4" and 3/8" and if you think it would help, they can be had in 4, 6 and 16 inch lengths. CPW's idea of a Bell Hanger bit is handy too.
          I'll make sure the speaker wires don't get close to the electrical.

          I also still have a bunch of insulated staples that I never needed when I did my garage door opener install so I should be covered on those.

          I have a set of 5 spade bits, 1" is just the largest one I have so I shouldn't have any problems on size of the hole.

          The speaker wire I plan on getting has a red and black inner sheath for each wire, much better than the cheap stuff I bought for temporary use at wal-mart that only had a barely visible white strip on one side.
          http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

          I don't see myself needing any other A/V cabling in the near future, a 7.1 surround system would be overkill for the room and all my components are in the TV console. I do want to eventually put in cat 6 networking cable throughout the house, but I still haven't figured out how much cable I need, and I haven't found a suitable network switch to handle my network traffic. I know wireless is the way of the future, and how nice it is to have the freedom of not being bound to the network cable, but there are still times I want a nice, fast copper connection that isn't subject to interruptions and radio frequency interference.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

            Originally posted by Woussko View Post
            Electrician's Fish Tape - http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...atalogId=10053
            I would go for the 50 footer over the 25 foot tape as you can use if for more jobs and not just electrical. Go for a steel rather than nylon tape. Greenlee and Ideal also make good tapes besides Klein.
            I'm going to disagree with the 50 over 25. I can be guilty of bigger is better, but if you're just a homeowner I think 25 ft makes more sense than 50. It is cheaper, but more importantly it will be a bit lighter and most of your pulls should be less than ~18 ft if you've got a 2 story house. If you've got a larger pull and are working by yourself, you probably need to break it up into smaller pulls anyway.

            You can use a spade bit to go up from the bottom, the issue there is making sure you hit the wall and don't drill up through your floor. If you use an inflexible bit to try to go through a 2x4 wall from the height of an outlet box, you'll likely pop out the other side of the wall (it does work in a 2x6 wall).

            The bell hangers bits aren't cheap (~$50), but they should make it so you aren't going to go through the floor (terrible), the wrong side of the wall (not great) or cut a hole lower down so you can use a spade bit and an extension (resulting in annoying drywall repair).

            BTW, I would probably use less than a 1" bit. For speaker wire, I think 1/2" should be plenty.

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            • #7
              Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

              As for the 25 VS 50 foot tape, I had in mind some uses other than electrical. (Yes, I'm crazy in what I use an electrician's tape for so get as you like.) The 25 is less $$$ and is lighter weight.

              Shhhhh - I use it with a big rag for cleaning out my yard drainage system. I need more than 25 feet. For indoors and most houses the 25 footer does make sense and cents too!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

                I'll probably end up getting a 25 ft. electrician's tape at some point, I definitely see it coming in handy for my cat 6 networking plans in the future. I have been getting some budget warnings from my fiancee however, and I really don't want to make it seem like "new project = many expensive tools"

                Would I be committing some kind of electrician sin if I use a coat hanger and duct tape to fish my wire up through the floor?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

                  Originally posted by wathman View Post
                  I'll probably end up getting a 25 ft. electrician's tape at some point, I definitely see it coming in handy for my cat 6 networking plans in the future. I have been getting some budget warnings from my fiancee however, and I really don't want to make it seem like "new project = many expensive tools"

                  Would I be committing some kind of electrician sin if I use a coat hanger and duct tape to fish my wire up through the floor?
                  A coat hanger should work in this case. The main advantage of the fish tape is that it is flexible enough to make some turns and will slip under insulation easily.

                  When you're doing your CAT6 stuff, you'll want a bunch of tools like a RA drill, auger bits, fish tape, etc.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

                    Here's some shots of my basement ceiling. The first pic is about where the TV wall is, didn't do any precise measurements yet, just judged where it was based on how well I could hear the tv from upstairs.

                    The second pic is the underside of an exterior wall. there is a fireplace along that wall, and I was planning on having the wires come out on the left side of it. the iron pipe is the gas line leading up to the fireplace.

                    I'm placing my order for wire and wall plates tomorrow, anything other tips for when I start the project next week?
                    Attached Files

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

                      Originally posted by wathman View Post
                      Here's some shots of my basement ceiling. The first pic is about where the TV wall is, didn't do any precise measurements yet, just judged where it was based on how well I could hear the tv from upstairs.

                      The second pic is the underside of an exterior wall. there is a fireplace along that wall, and I was planning on having the wires come out on the left side of it. the iron pipe is the gas line leading up to the fireplace.

                      I'm placing my order for wire and wall plates tomorrow, anything other tips for when I start the project next week?
                      If you can find a wire entering the floor about where the wall should be, that will give you a good idea of approximately where to drill (if you want to go from under). The doubled up joists seem to me that there is a pretty good chance you've got the right spot. I still personally would be more comfortable drilling top down.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

                        My house is a ranch with a very open floor plan, only rooms walled off from the main living area are the 3 bedrooms and the laundry room. I don't know a whole lot about construction, but I assume a lot of the load from the roof is on my TV wall, and those double joists seemed like a logical location for the wall.

                        I might be able to have a friend come help me with the project. I had an idea that it might be helpful to tap on the floor inside the wall with something once we get the box cut out in the drywall.. while one of us goes to the basement to listen and mark the spot. Would this help any or is the floor too thick and any tapping sound too muffled to localize it well?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

                          Originally posted by wathman View Post
                          My house is a ranch with a very open floor plan, only rooms walled off from the main living area are the 3 bedrooms and the laundry room. I don't know a whole lot about construction, but I assume a lot of the load from the roof is on my TV wall, and those double joists seemed like a logical location for the wall.

                          I might be able to have a friend come help me with the project. I had an idea that it might be helpful to tap on the floor inside the wall with something once we get the box cut out in the drywall.. while one of us goes to the basement to listen and mark the spot. Would this help any or is the floor too thick and any tapping sound too muffled to localize it well?
                          I'm not sure if tapping will work, careful measurement is a better bet. You can also try just drilling with a small diameter bit to get a locator hole, or cheat and set your box at below 12". You could probably remove the baseboard, drill a hole that the baseboard will later hide, and then know exactly where to drill from below.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

                            I'll probably have better luck with the careful measurement approach. I also got a free laser ball thing with my stud finder that may come in handy.

                            http://www.zircon.com/products/level...erball360.html

                            works pretty well at perpendiculars, trying to get it to hold a beam at other angles is difficult since the magnets don't always cooperate and try to snap it back to 45 degrees or 90.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Advice for running speaker wire under floor?

                              Since you have not done any of this before hee are some tips, hope they are of use. Your A/V wallplate will probably be secured to a single or double "gang box", correct? If so buy boxes that anchor to sheetrock rather than to the stud, so you are not restricted to mounting to the stud. You can use a hammer and nail to find a open area in which to make your hole. Stand the hammer against the wall and rest the gang box on top of it for uniform height. Allow for a loop of slack somewhere in the event you have a problem terminating your cable. Drill at least a half inch hole up from the basement to make fishing the line a little easier, you might want to seal any opening later to prevent smoke, moisture or noise from traveling up. Have a couple rolls of vinyl electrical tape handy, give a tight wrap over the area where the fish tape and cable meet up to ensure a smooth pull without snags. If you are doing this by yourself, layout the cable prior to pulling it so there are no tangles. Wheter you use a staple gun or hammer staples to secure your cable, make sure you can see what you are doing and don't pierce the sheathing. Good luck, sounds like a nice neat job when finished. I ran my speaker cables under the floor but got lazy and drilled small holes on the floor right at the walls.

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