Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 40 Old 08-21-07, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread

Please use this thread to for any questions or discussion relating to the
In-Wall Retro-Wiring for your Home Theater and
Guide to Splicing Speaker Wire threads.

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post #2 of 40 Old 08-21-07, 08:54 PM
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread

Wayne, what a timely article. I was just in my attic day before yesterday, and came down dejected telling my wife there was no way I was going to be able to install wiring in the walls. I'm going to study your article and give it another go.

Thank you for taking the time to share these useful techniques.

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post #3 of 40 Old 08-22-07, 08:12 AM
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread

Great article Wayne. Just a few things to add:

One, they make long, flexible, extendable auger bits for drilling holes in cross bracing and ceiling/floor plates. I couldn't find it this morning, but there's an installer kit that has the three auger bits, each 18" long and 2 extension shafts for a maximum of 9' or so. It virtually eliminates the mini-patches in drywall to get around sill plates.

Two: I played around with a couple of the magnet pull kits and they work well. They are expensive ($100 or so), but they allow for pulling wire through the walls with just one kit, albeit very similar to what you have mentioned here.

Three: While some people would like to use fully enclosed boxes for their low voltage wires, code allows for low voltage to go in open boxes, which are basically wire guides and a place to screw the front plate. They are cheaper and easier to install than the full boxes (because they are smaller and open).

Finally, I always like to pull a very thin wire or nylon cord along with the bundle in order to allow me to pull another wire later, if need be. All my conduit and in-wall pulls have a cord with washers on both ends (so the far end doesn't get "lost" accidentally inside the wall). If I want to run a network wire, I just remove the washer, tape on the cable and another pull cord. Then pull it through and tie off the new pull cord. It's great for upgrades or redo's which seem to happen a lot with me

Great writeups!

Edit by Wayne Pflughaupt:

Here are a couple of sources for extension or flex bits. The flex bits come in various lengths, so you need as much overhead clearance as the bit is long. For limited headroom situations, the extension sections will be a better option, even if you have to “stack” two or three of them. Neat tools, if you don’t mind paying the price.

Couldn’t find a picture of a low voltage old work box, but here’s a regular nail-on box. An old work box will look similar, but with the fold-down tabs. They all seem to be orange – must be an industry thing.

Another option, sometimes a bit harder to find, is a bracket that merely frames the hole:

Personally I would only use the low voltage options where there will be some kind of cover installed.
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post #4 of 40 Old 08-22-07, 08:34 AM
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread

Ditto that. Great work, Wayne. Another good idea that I used to employ when I did this stuff is to use a toy crossbow pistol to shoot a string across attic spaces to pull wires. Works great in drop ceilings and when you need to get across duct work or hard to reach areas.

Edit by Wayne Pflughaupt:

If you or a friend are into archery, you can use a real one!

Looking for me, just google my username. I have used the same one for most sites for many years.
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post #5 of 40 Old 08-22-07, 12:42 PM
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread

Timely is right as far as this article goes. After being in our house for almost 2 years, I finally got the surround speakers set up a few months ago. I went out and got CL3 cable to run through my walls/ceiling and am in the process of finishing up the research to do this. Plenty of space in my attic, but the cross braces. That was a headache I was not looking forward to. Wayne, thanks for the help with the crossbraces!

Pix will follow when I get all this done - most likely when it cools down a bit here in LA. Not going in my attic if I can avoid it while it's 103 outside.

Mark Santora
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post #6 of 40 Old 09-21-07, 02:14 PM
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread

I did retrofits for a living back in the 90's for an A/V/security company.

One the best tools to have when doing this is a 50' "fish tape", (about $18.00 at Home Depot) which is essentially a small coil of 1/8" stiff spring steel that can be pushed through a small hole in the wall or ceiling to another location such as an attic or distant location such as a cut-in speaker hole.
It's indispensable for running wires up an insulated outer wall, and hard to access attic areas near top plate/gable junctions.
Be sure to cut a 3' length from the coil to use for fishing inside wall cavities and retrieving hard to reach fish-tape runs in attics.
(you can use a standard pair of wire-cutters to bend the tape back and forth to snap off a short piece, or to easily form small hooks for attaching wires.)
To avoid banging into small obstructions, make a gentle bend (4" in 12" hook downward is good) near the end of the tape to allow it to slide over joists and pipes.

It's advisable to initially pull lengths of 4-conductor phone wire between access points, then use this wire to pull the larger wire bundles.
Have someone push the wire bundles as you pull them,(keep the run tight and straight to avoid coiling and snagging; if it snags, have them pull it back slightly then retry the pull) and pull very slowly if there's a chance that the wires will contact other wiring, foil air ducts, etc... behind the walls and ceiling. Low voltage wire casings can very quickly burn through vinyl romex casings if dragged over them rapidly(!)

Another tip is to taper the connection (about 6" of taper is sufficient) to large bundles of wires that must be pulled across roof joists etc... saves a lot of frustration and snagging.

post #7 of 40 Old 09-27-07, 05:59 AM
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread


Just want to thank you for the extensive and very helpful post on wiring. I wired a ceiling mounted projector used the pvc push rods to install the various cables. The distance was about 14 feet through webbed trusses.

I took a bit of a risk and did not screw the sections together as you suggested, however. I used the 1/2" copper couplers and used PVC glue on one section of PVC pipe to help hold them in place, I then just relied on friction to keep the second female section in place. The glue seemed to bind the copper sufficiently to keep it secure.

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post #8 of 40 Old 11-26-07, 09:59 PM
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread
Wayne - I've been waiting for part 4 (and partially part 5) of this artical for a while now, and a friend asked me about running surround speaker wires in existing insulated and vapour-barrieredwalls just today.

She said she has procured the "big 'horkin speaker wire"... (her words).
Their place is a single story home w/o a basement, and no attic space above the HT - the ceiling above the HT is just a very well insulated (but innaccessable space), which only leave running the wires in the wall as being an option. To further complicate it, at least one run is on an exterior wall where a vapour barrier will become an issue. Any tips on how to run a wire from baseboard level up to surround height through a wall in between existing drywall (sheetrock) and a vapour barrier that they'd like to remain as in-tact as possible?
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post #9 of 40 Old 11-30-07, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread

Sorry to leave you hanging, Ben. Parts 4 and 5 have been posted.

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post #10 of 40 Old 06-18-08, 04:50 AM
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Re: Retro-Wiring your Home Theater questions / discussion thread


I'm in the process of installing a few inwall speaker cables for in-ceiling speakers (multi-zone). It is a duplex type house and there is another family living on top of me. The bigger problem currently I have is that concrete ceiling. Is there any way to install those ceiling speakers on that concrete roof. And how can I pull the wires from the groundfloor to the first floor through the concrete cieling.

Any feedback is welcome..



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