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LAN & WAN Basics

Running Cables - Dealing with Floor Joists

Once we had the second floor complete, we moved on to the first floor. The first floor was not really as much of a challenge as the second floor. Our biggest concern when dealing with the first floor was how to route the cables around the floor joists. For this task, rather than drilling holes in the joists themselves, Doug suggested that we use carriers/ hangers to route the cables around the basement ceiling, which would give us a nice clean look and allow for the addition of future cabling, if needed.

Cable hangers instead of drilling through joists

Cable hangers instead of drilling through joists

Once the decision was made as to how to secure the cables to the ceiling, the process was pretty much the same as it was for the second floor. Each pull was routed to the desired location via the ceiling hangers and then cables were fished to the waiting plate locations in the wall. As with most homes, the insulation can present problems when fishing the cable, so it is important to move the fish slowly and make sure that you have placed your holes in the right place.

In most cases, it is easier to do inside walls rather than outside walls. This is due to the degree of insulation and accessibility of these locations. This strategy might lead to you having the plates in less desirable locations, but it can make installing them a lot easier.

The new lab in the basement was built from the ground up. This made the installation of the jacks very easy. Each carrier was screwed to the framing, and the cables were run through it. The cables were then coiled up and left hanging by the carriers. This allowed our general contractor, Kevin, to make the cutouts in the drywall before hanging it. One additional item of note is that we placed extra pull strings in strategic locations in the ceiling, which provides the option to pull additional cables into the lab if needed in the future.

Finishing the basement lab

Finishing the basement lab

Once we had all of the cables run to all of the plates in all three locations in the house, most of the difficult part was over. Fishing the cables and cutting the holes for the plates were really the hardest parts of the entire process. While we still had to wait for the contractors to finish hanging the drywall in the lab space in the basement, Doug was able to continue work on terminating the jacks on the first and second floors.

Connecting the jacks for the network, phone, and coax on the first and second floors of the house was not going to take as long as it would for the contractors to finish the build-out of the lab. The lab itself still needed to have the drywall hung, as well as the bench build-out completed. Beyond this, we wanted all of the painting to be completed before Doug returned to finish the termination.

As with any project of this magnitude, you are always at the mercy of the contractors. In our case, we were lucky that all of the contractors worked well together and could work around each other's schedules. If you have a pre-existing home and you are just looking at running the network cables, then you will not experience this kind of delay. While it didn't take that long to hang the drywall, the mudding of the seams and waiting for the mud to dry between coats slowed down the final process. In our case, nearly a week passed before we were ready for Doug to return to finish the termination.

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