While it is possible to create a good looking home theater set-up with wires neatly placed against walls, the most attractive cable and connection solution involves routing everything through the wall. Visible wiring, even when it’s installed as neatly as possible can look cluttered and can make your entertainment area look half finished. Now imagine your TV flush against the wall, without any wires snaking down. Your speakers hidden deftly in all the right corners for a perfect surround sound experience, without cords and cables flanking the baseboards. And peripherals placed wherever they are most useful, not necessarily as close to the TV as possible. That’s what in-wall wiring is all about.
Most of us have never fished or snaked wires through walls. In this article, you’ll find basic information to help you with your in-wall wiring project. Once you get the hang of installing in-wall wiring, it’s easy, but for newbies, there is a learning curve. Before you start, here are the basic tools you’ll need to complete an in wall wiring job:
- Measuring tape
- Fish tape
- Cordless electric drill with drill bits
- A flashlight
- Your wires
Always remember to put safety first. After all, you are dealing with low-voltage wires so you want to make sure you are fully prepared to embark on this project safely. Remember to consult a licensed professional if you feel that you would rather leave the tricky details to someone else.
The first step in any in-wall wiring project is switching off the electricity in the room where you’re working. Because you’re essentially working blindly, you don’t know what kind of wiring might be behind the wall, and turning off the power means no nasty surprises.
Next, determine where wiring will need to go into and emerge from the wall. Mark these spots in pencil and measure the distance between all marks to determine what lengths of wiring you’ll need. Once you have the wires and cables on hand, drill a half inch hole at each pencil mark. Then insert the end of your fish tape into one of the holes and extend it until it is visible in the second hole. Secure the wire through the loop in the fish tape and pull it back through the first hole.
Repeat these steps, as necessary, until all of your wires are where they need to be for a clutter-free installation of your television, speakers, and other peripherals. Before you finish, dress the holes with wall plates for a neat, clean look. Once everything is hooked up, you can turn the electricity back on and check out your handiwork. We think you’ll find that a streamlined entertainment system that’s not bogged down by a lot of wiring makes for an amazing viewing experience.
Lastly, here are some final safety tips that you should make sure to keep in mind:
- In many areas homeowners are permitted to install low-voltage wiring. Nevertheless, each state, city or county can have their own code so check with your local building authorities to make sure. Familiarize yourself with local building and fire codes. Also make sure to follow the safety guidelines and instructions that come with owner’s manuals that accompany your products.
- Make sure the cables and wiring you use are rated for in-wall use. To be sure, get wiring that’s rated for in-wall use by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL). For speaker wire and audio/video cables, this is normally denoted with a CL2 or CL3 rating. For Ethernet cables look for a CM, CMR, or CMP rating.
- DO NOT run your power cord inside the wall. It is not safe because those types of cables were not designed for in-wall use. Instead, hire a licensed electrician to install an AC outlet behind your TV.
- Unplug any components before you connect the cables that you just installed.
- In areas where you’ll be cutting or drilling, turn off the power to avoid electric shock.
- Before cutting any holes in your wall, use a stud finder to check for any for power lines, pipes and other obstructions inside the wall. This way you’ll be able to fish your wires through the wall without encountering any difficulties.
- Don’t use the same hole to feed both an AC wire and low-voltage wire. Running low-voltage cables with power cables may degrade your performance and may even damage your AC lines. Also, If your cables and power cable are parallel to each other, keep them at least 12 inches apart. If they intersect, keep them at a 90-degree angle.
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