Club PA 2.0 has arrived! If you'd like to access some extra PA content and help support the forums, check it out at patreon.com/ClubPA
The image size limit has been raised to 1mb! Anything larger than that should be linked to. This is a HARD limit, please do not abuse it.
Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

Help me wire up my new apartment for internet!

AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
So I'm in the process of renovating a multi-room apartment, and I'm struggling with how to think about internet wiring. Never done something like this before, so any help/insight is greatly appreciated. Ideally I want to run Cat6 cables to a few key locations, but not the entire apartment. This is in a co-op/condo where according to the rules I personally can't drill through walls; a licensed contractor/electrician has to do it.

1) I don't even know where the Fios box will be. I've only had Fios once before at a rental, and the Verizon guy seemed to have a pretty good idea where the box should go. Is this something that is predetermined, or can I ask the Verizon guy to install it at a room closet of my choosing?

2) What's the best way to route Ethernet cable through the walls? If I have the Fios box in one bedroom closet, can someone just drill a hole and poke Ethernet cables through to the next rooms, running along walls/ceilings, or is there an elegant way to have Ethernet ports in the main locations?

I spoke to a few general contractors, but anytime I mentioned Ethernet their eyes seem to glaze over. Only one clearly understood what I wanted, and he wanted to tear out the walls to lay down all the wiring. He assured me this was the most painless way. Electricians I've talked to said they'd do it, but only if I'm wiring up the ENTIRE apartment in a large scale project, otherwise the job is too small for them. I'm quite capable of crimping, swapping wall plates, etc... but my mind just can't get around how to get cables from Point A to Point B through multiple walls around several corners. Otherwise I'd just do if myself instead of talking to contractors who look at me like I'm crazy.

3) As an extension of the above, quite a few rooms have coax ports. How do I find out where they all lead/come from? (Thinking of using the coax wires to fish Ethernet wires through?) Or is there any way to piggy back off of these for Ethernet? (Use the coax wires, just swap out the plates/connectors on the walls?)

Like I said, any help/comments/opinions on how I should approach this would be greatly appreciated.

Posts

  • TNTrooperTNTrooper Registered User regular
    The much cheaper no pain in the ass solution is just get a nice router for good WiFi or use those Powerline adapters. Or if you are lucky the coax cables go to where you want. There is probably some tool to find out if two ends are connected or not.

    Now if you aren't lucky you could stick a super strong magnet on one end of the ethernet cable and use a second to grab it and walk along the wall to the other point but going around multiple walls and corners might be a bit much. So you are probably going to have to do something stupid like stick the ethernet cable and a tiny spy camera that streams live video footage on the smallest RC car you can find and drive through the walls.

    steam_sig.png
  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited October 7
    The easiest way to run anything through walls is if there's existing conduit, use fish tape to pull it through. There's not always conduit, though, and running anything through studs without it ranges from almost impossible to fuck-this-shit. The magnet suggestion won't work, unfortunately, because the holes to run wires are in the center of the stud, and the magnet will hold your wire against the wall. The studs are vertical, which will mess up the RC idea.


    Anyway, the easiest way is a 1/4" spade or augur bit hole right through the wall, run a wire through and seal around each side. You'll want to cut the end off and install a new one for this. A cleaner version of this is to install junction boxes on both sides of the wall between the same two studs with ethernet jacks and a short cable connecting them. This basically turns the wall into an end-to-end connector, connect the router to the wall jack and devices on the other side.

    A method for apartments that will preserve your security deposit would be wifi. Wifi in apartments is an epic pain in the ass, because everyone else also has wifi and probably isn't paying much attention to what channel they're using. There's a few steps you can take to alleviate it, though:

    1. Use a wifi scanner to find the least used channel and use that.
    2. Get a high end router. Netgear has its Nighthawk gaming routers that get good reviews, but they make the exact same routers without the Nighthawk name for substantially less. These have multiple SSIDs, I'd suggest disabling the guest networks (because they're only going to compound the signal density problem), and use only one of the two main networks. Use the higher band if you can (more channels and less routers support it so far less competition), but not everything (especially printers and smart phones) will actually support it
    3. Endeavour to install the router as centrally as you can on your floor plan.
    4. Use wifi bridges to create ethernet ports where you need ethernet and not wifi.
    5. If you can't get the router centrally located or can't get signal in a part of the apartment, use a range extender set as far from the router in the direction of the issue as you can. If there seems to be a signal "shadow" where rather than distance it's a particular wall degrading signals, put the range extender as far from the router and as close to the shadow while staying outside of it.

    Hevach on
    spool32
  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    You could always do adhesive backed, surface mount conduit. It's easy to install and comes down easy when you move out. I've had to do some wiring jobs in antique houses where it would be quite impossible to start opening up the walls to run cables though. You can use drywall screws to better hold the conduit in place if your walls aren't flush.

    camo_sig.png
    Jebus314
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    edited October 7
    Most electricians do not do data wiring. Sometimes they can but it's not really their area.
    What you'll want is a "low voltage electrician". They're the ones who do things like phone, data, and AV. You'll especially want someone who knows what they're doing as Cat5+ is way more finicky on proper termination than 4 and below. At least back in the day it was usually not considered worth it to run 5e or 6 in most places due to the big increase in cost over 4 and 100Mb/s being sufficient. These days it's probably more reasonable. You definitely can get sockets in wall plates if you want it to look nice.

    Tofystedeth on
    steam_sig.png
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    What do you mean by renovation?

    Presumably you own the place. Is all DIY banned? I would imagine running network cable would not fall under that clause since it is not handled by electrician but that seems extreme. I get things like electrical where it could burn the complex down, but everything?

    camo_sig.png
  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    edited October 7
    You can't run wiring through the wall without punching holes. You don't have to tear out the wall completely, but you do have to punch a roughly 1 square foot hole every 12-16 inches so that you can drill a hole through the 2x4 framing and route the wires through.

    For apartment complexes, you usually find that coax is routed the most stupid way possible. So punched straight through an exterior wall straight to where the box is, and then stapled along the outside wall. You'd have to get very lucky for the coax to have been installed during the initial building of the complex for it to be routed nicely. But if it is you might be able to use the coax as a lead wire, but only if it makes only 1 or 2 turns. If it's a long run that turns a lot of corners it won't be possible.

    As someone above mentioned you can do exterior conduit. They make some that is just flat and sticks anywhere on the wall (although usually either near the ceiling or floor), but they also make some that looks like molding. So you can replace baseboards or crown molding with something that has empty space behind it for wiring purposes. Vertical runs in the wall should be very easy wherever you want to put the actual port.

    Lastly, if it is only 1 or 2 rooms you can sometimes run through the ceiling between beams, as long as the beams go the same direction you want to run the wires. Still probably requires a few drywall holes, but those should be easily patched by any contractor.

    edit - It would be helpful if you just sketched out roughly the floor layout of the apartment, and where you want ports and where the modem will be.

    Jebus314 on
    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    edited October 7
    Thanks guys! Replies below.
    mts wrote: »
    What do you mean by renovation?
    Presumably you own the place. Is all DIY banned? I would imagine running network cable would not fall under that clause since it is not handled by electrician but that seems extreme. I get things like electrical where it could burn the complex down, but everything?

    It's a co-op, which means legally I don't own the place, I'm just a renter. Anything that involves work deeper than the wall surface requires submitting a renovation plan, and hiring a licensed specialist. E.g., Technically I can't even swap out a light switch without approval, even though I know how and have done it a lot of times. Yes, it's as crazy as it sounds. Most people just go ahead and swap that light switch. Last person who tore through the walls in the complex took almost two years from initial renovation plan submission to final job completion.

    I think the last person who lived in the unit just routed cables around the doors and THROUGH doorways. That is, closed the doors on the ethernet cables, since I can't find signs of holes to pass the cables through. Not my preferred solution.
    That_Guy wrote: »
    You could always do adhesive backed, surface mount conduit. It's easy to install and comes down easy when you move out. I've had to do some wiring jobs in antique houses where it would be quite impossible to start opening up the walls to run cables though. You can use drywall screws to better hold the conduit in place if your walls aren't flush.

    Huh. That just leaves routing them through the walls. Maybe I can get the contractor to drill a few inconspicuous holes towards the floor to route the conduit through.
    Hevach wrote: »
    The easiest way to run anything through walls is if there's existing conduit, use fish tape to pull it through. There's not always conduit, though, and running anything through studs without it ranges from almost impossible to fuck-this-shit. The magnet suggestion won't work, unfortunately, because the holes to run wires are in the center of the stud, and the magnet will hold your wire against the wall. The studs are vertical, which will mess up the RC idea.

    Nope, no existing conduit. I removed a few panels and took a look. It's just wires running in the walls.
    Hevach wrote:
    Anyway, the easiest way is a 1/4" spade or augur bit hole right through the wall, run a wire through and seal around each side. You'll want to cut the end off and install a new one for this. A cleaner version of this is to install junction boxes on both sides of the wall between the same two studs with ethernet jacks and a short cable connecting them. This basically turns the wall into an end-to-end connector, connect the router to the wall jack and devices on the other side.

    The former is more doable given the contractors I have available to me.
    Hevach wrote:
    A method for apartments that will preserve your security deposit would be wifi. Wifi in apartments is an epic pain in the ass, because everyone else also has wifi and probably isn't paying much attention to what channel they're using. There's a few steps you can take to alleviate it, though.

    I'm leaving wifi as the last resort. If all else fails...
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    You'd have to get very lucky for the coax to have been installed during the initial building of the complex for it to be routed nicely. But if it is you might be able to use the coax as a lead wire, but only if it makes only 1 or 2 turns. If it's a long run that turns a lot of corners it won't be possible.

    The coax was a later addition for sure. I'm still trying to figure out what leads where, and it's getting a bit annoying.
    Jebus314 wrote:
    As someone above mentioned you can do exterior conduit. They make some that is just flat and sticks anywhere on the wall (although usually either near the ceiling or floor), but they also make some that looks like molding. So you can replace baseboards or crown molding with something that has empty space behind it for wiring purposes. Vertical runs in the wall should be very easy wherever you want to put the actual port.

    I think this is what I'm going to run with. Some variation of exterior conduit.
    Jebus314 wrote:
    edit - It would be helpful if you just sketched out roughly the floor layout of the apartment, and where you want ports and where the modem will be.

    Once I can find out where the fios box is going to sit, I'll probably do just that!

    So I googled a bit, and it looks like cable raceways are what I want. The baseboards and crown molding unfortunately can't go (wife likes them), but I could probably run the raceways slightly above the baseboards. Poke segments of raceways through holes drilled into the walls and seal up the gaps, leaving conduit I can slide wires through.

    Akilae on
  • AiouaAioua Ora Occidens Ora OptimaRegistered User regular
    If you're just going from one side of the wall to the other that's super easy to do with proper wall plates.
    Since it's low voltage you don't need a whole box behind the plate, just one of the frames that attach to the drywall. Install those both sides, stick a short length of (plenum-rated) cable in there, punch down some jacks and screw the plates on.

    Better than just drilling a hole and trying to fish a wire though.

    life's a game that you're bound to lose / like using a hammer to pound in screws
    fuck up once and you break your thumb / if you're happy at all then you're god damn dumb
    that's right we're on a fucked up cruise / God is dead but at least we have booze
    bad things happen, no one knows why / the sun burns out and everyone dies
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Often times apartment complexes have access panels in the wall See if yours does. Sometimes they have conduit for coax and may have splitters.

  • TOGSolidTOGSolid Drunk sailor Seattle, WashingtonRegistered User regular
    TNTrooper wrote: »
    use those Powerline adapters.

    I've used these in a couple apartments now and they're fucking fantastic. Definitely would recommend as a no fuss, no muss solution to getting internet to different rooms.

    ZMkKzv8.png
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    you won't be able to run wiring through the walls by your unqualified self; that way lies madness

    if you don't want to do wireless and don't want to do powerline, good ways to run conduit are under carpets and behind baseboards. Pull them up, stick your cable down underneath with adhesive, put'em back. Unless you have really ornate baseboard it should be pretty easy

    NREqxl5.jpg
    do you lack faith, brother?
    or do you believe?
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    crown moulding actually has a big gap behind it, but you would have to take it down to set it up

    camo_sig.png
    Shadowfire
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    You can't run wiring through the wall without punching holes. You don't have to tear out the wall completely, but you do have to punch a roughly 1 square foot hole every 12-16 inches so that you can drill a hole through the 2x4 framing and route the wires through.

    For apartment complexes, you usually find that coax is routed the most stupid way possible. So punched straight through an exterior wall straight to where the box is, and then stapled along the outside wall. You'd have to get very lucky for the coax to have been installed during the initial building of the complex for it to be routed nicely. But if it is you might be able to use the coax as a lead wire, but only if it makes only 1 or 2 turns. If it's a long run that turns a lot of corners it won't be possible.

    As someone above mentioned you can do exterior conduit. They make some that is just flat and sticks anywhere on the wall (although usually either near the ceiling or floor), but they also make some that looks like molding. So you can replace baseboards or crown molding with something that has empty space behind it for wiring purposes. Vertical runs in the wall should be very easy wherever you want to put the actual port.

    Lastly, if it is only 1 or 2 rooms you can sometimes run through the ceiling between beams, as long as the beams go the same direction you want to run the wires. Still probably requires a few drywall holes, but those should be easily patched by any contractor.

    edit - It would be helpful if you just sketched out roughly the floor layout of the apartment, and where you want ports and where the modem will be.

    If you know what you're doing you can usually run wires with no access holes. Got a chimney? Run wires along side. Drain pipe? Wires! Electrical wires in a chase? Wires! Recessed lighting? Pull those cans out and run some wires!

    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    You can use a wooden spoon and stuff wires between the floor trim/molding on the wall and the carpet. It works okay. I use a rug over the hall where it passes a door frame/hall but you could run it under the carpet and get a tiny ridge if you tunnel it with a dowel.

    Shadowfire
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    In my old house i went in through an airduct. that worked pretty well

    camo_sig.png
  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    mts wrote: »
    In my old house i went in through an airduct. that worked pretty well

    This can work wonders, but if they're hot air ducts, make sure the wires you run are rated for heat. They do make heat shielded versions of everything from romex to speaker wire, but not just anything will be safe.

    TOGSolid
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited October 9
    100% you should not be running wires in a property you do not own without the owner's consent. Full stop.

    Depending on where you live, what you are doing is a misdemeanor offense. It's also something that should be done by the landlord at their discretion.

    Either run lines from your existing ports around the baseboards or contact your landlord. Literally anything else is the worst goddamn idea I can't even.

    Enc on
    ShadowfireAngelHedgie
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    Hevach wrote: »
    mts wrote: »
    In my old house i went in through an airduct. that worked pretty well

    This can work wonders, but if they're hot air ducts, make sure the wires you run are rated for heat. They do make heat shielded versions of everything from romex to speaker wire, but not just anything will be safe.

    Yea, I used a return duct so it wasn't an issue.

    camo_sig.png
  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    edited October 9
    Uh guys, I do OWN the apartment. But due to legal distinctions between what ownership means when it comes to a co-op, this means I don't own the apartment directly. I technically own shares of the co-op that allows me to live in the apartment. It's not a common ownership structure in a lot of the U.S., and seems to be a uniquely NYC thing. In the eyes of NYC law, I am usually referred to as a "tenant", but I am by all means a homeowner of an apartment who is also the tenant/renter of the building. I have all the rights of a homeowner combined with the protections of a renter. I can legally do whatever I want to the inside walls, provided the work will not change the structural integrity of the apartment, and that the work is done by a licensed professional, after having been approved by the co-op board. So I can't just roll up my sleeves and do my own work, as much as I would love to.

    My goal is therefore to do what I need to in order to get the apartment wired up, short of tearing out the walls cause we don't want to deal with the board approval on that. Drilling hole in wall = Easier co-op approval cause the board does not see that as structurally risky work that also needs a licensed electrician. Ripping out walls to install all sorts of cables and outlet panels = Much more difficult cause now the board needs to send in their architect to ensure you're not ripping out anything structural, and to ensure the electrical work is done up to code.

    So after talking to my contractor a bit, I think the most doable is to install either brush plates or jacks, depending on how involved I want to be in the process, on both sides of shared walls to get cables from one room to another. I can then use raceways to run cables around the rooms to wherever they are needed.

    Thanks for all the input guys, it was very eye opening seeing how people have tackled this problem!

    Akilae on
Sign In or Register to comment.