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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're in a new build home, and I want to run some Cat5e and speaker wires to exterior walls. I'll run them from the basement to the family room, and from the attic to a spare bedroom/office. I have plenum-rated cables for the attic. I don't need to go through a cold air return, and I'm obviously not going to use the warm air ducts.

I have some retrofit low voltage plates, but I'm wondering about the best way to fish the cables. Should I try to get the cables between the inside face of the drywall and the vapor barrier (and how the heck would I do that), or just run it though the insulation and pop back through the vapour barrier at the wall plate?

I'm guessing the latter, and then seal around all penetrations through the vapour barrier, but with caulking, canned spray foam, or something else?
 

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I've done a lot of retrofit low voltage wiring in my 1972 vintage home, and being it's a 5 level split I have had to be pretty creative at times.

If it was me, I would stay out of the drywall/vapour barrier in my exterior walls and use surface mount for exterior walls, or floor flush mount boxes if your flooring and spouse will allow. Sometimes a longer path can be the best route.

Get some small flat pry bars if you don't have any already and pop some baseboards where you want the wire to end up. You may find you have enough of a gap along the edge of your flooring and your subfloor to run the wire you want. Punch a nail down from along the baseboard to locate the path to the drop from the basement. Drill as close to the drywall as you can from the inside of the wall to preserve the integrity of the building envelope.

Assuming that RG-6 or 59 has been run for TV, perhaps in some locations you could you use the existing cable as your pull string. Depending on distance and the intended use of your speakers, I have used some 16/2 4 conductor in wall rated wire for surrounds and multi-zone that does not take a lot of space and pulls easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I may be able to pop through the floor at the baseboard in the family room, but the upstairs office is a little trickier. I have coax to the correct location in the office, but the route is long enough that I know I won't be able to use the coax to pull new cables.
 

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Assuming newly built home as stated, and assuming high efficiency furnace, does your furnace venting go up through the roof or out the side of the house?

I would look for a stack or chase of some kind to follow along side of from the basement up to the attic. Furnace venting, waste stack, etc. - anything that gives you a reference point all the way up from the basement to the roof. Built in vacuum system to follow?

Another assumption is that your closets are probably not on your interior walls. If you were real lucky, maybe the office closet is close to or backing onto a stack. Closets have a much better SAF than cutting into visible drywall. You might be able to cut into the interior walls of closets to access as pull locations for wire from the basement, then patch or just put in a PVC access panel for future use.

Run the wire all the way up from the basement into the attic, then locate the framing for a closet, drill down into a backing wall for the office. Foam the hole you make in the top plate, rather than introducing holes in the exterior envelope. If you've got the room, run more wire than you need to the attic, or at the very least leave some kind of pull string for later use. Then along baseboards...

Wire is still relatively cheap in comparison to drywall patching, and as long as you consider the distance requirements for your cat5e, and the impedance/line loss for your speaker wire, the longer route is sometimes the best.

It's hard to give specific suggestions without have a clear picture of the house, but these are some ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks.

I actually have a conduit from the basement to the attic, so that part is easy. Here's a picture of the location of the current coax box, between the two windows, in the office above the garage:

The desk is between the two windows.

There is no space between the closet door and the exterior wall to run the wire, but I could come down inside the closet and drill a hole through the bottom the wall at the closet, right through the stud.

I could also drill a hole from the attic space through the top plate, and fish the wire down between the insulation and the vapour barrier, and poke a small hole through the vapour barrier and seal it up with caulking. I'd spray foam the hole through the top plate as well, of course. That's the way I'm currently leaning.
 

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Just my opinion, but I'd consider the odds of snaking wire down from the attic between the vapor barrier and the drywall without tearing the poly, buggering up the drywall, catching my fish tape, snagging the wire... low.

I would come down from the attic behind the two jack/king closet studs against the outside wall, pop off the baseboards on the outside wall under the windows and inside the closet, drill as small a hole as possible at the junction of the studs and bottom plate, and run along the baseboard on the outside wall.

As you've said, there isn't any room there with those studs. As they are not load bearing a hole for wire should not be an issue.

I would run the wire down from the attic in the corner of the closet behind that two stud "wall", then hide the wire(s) using some molding or surface mount track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have an even easier option, which I'm almost embarrassed to admit: My builder ran Cat5e to all the telephone outlets in the house, and there is one in this room in the middle of the wall to the left of the picture. I'll just run a long extension (white) along the baseboard to the computer. The cable even terminates right at the location where I'm going to install my rack in the basement, so it's the only Cat5e wire that terminates in the basement that I won't have to extend to reach my router/switch.

Now, I still have similar issues for speaker wiring in the family room, but that's for another day. Thank you all for contributing, envirogeek. It's nice to pick the brains of people who speak from experience.
 
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