When it comes to internet technology, the worldwide trend shifted quite some time ago from dialup to an “always on” broadband connection. Nearly every home that is built in North America these days comes with an integrated data network. That means the data cables typically are Category 6 (Cat6) or Category 5e (Cat5e). They are run through the home’s walls and then connect to jacks on both ends. Typically, the cables are run back into a central location, and from that point can be patched into other equipment or the network.
However, what if you have an older home or one that never had any network cables installed in it? Wireless networking is an option, but several downsides come with wireless networking that many people are not willing to deal with. Compared to wired, wireless transfer rates are lower and are much more susceptible to interference. Latency time of at least 100ms is introduced into the connection by wireless communication, which for gamers is unacceptable.
Fortunately, in a majority of houses, it is not very hard to run network cabling. In this article, I will be explaining what is needed to do this task and the steps that need to be done to complete the job professionally and quickly.
Supplies and Tools
To run networking cables, you first are going to need to have a few supplies and specific tools. A majority of the tools are times that many people already have. To do the job right, you are going to need the following:
- Keyhole saw (or drywall saw)
- Drill bits and a keyhole saw
- Measuring Tape
- Pulling string (an inexpensive string that works great is mason line)
- Fish Tape (cable snake, etc.)
- Scissors or knife
- Assorted screwdrivers
There are a few materials that you will also need to buy. All of them can be purchased either online or at a local hardware store. You will need the following:
RJ-45 Keystone Jacks (Those are the outlets that are going to be attached to the walls)
One spool of Cat6 or Cat5e cable (they are usually sold in 1000 foot roles, which is plenty for one home)
Keystone wall plates that have enough holes in them for the number of jacks you are planning to install
Single-gang wall boxes (you will need one for each place you are wanting to have an outlet)
For each place you are planning to install an outlet you will need to buy one keystone jack. A majority of retailers sell new tool-less jacks. You won’t have to use a punch-down too, so get those if possible since it is easier to use them.
First Step: Make Your Plan
Before you start doing any work, first look around your house and plan out the exact locations for each jack you want to install. It is very important to do this first since you will want to buy the right amount of supplies and also it can save you a lot of work later on.
Another thing you need to do is determine where your central location should be. That is the place where all of the cable runs will lead back to. It is where your internet connection and network equipment will be.
Identify Walls and Start to Drill
Inside the attic is where the next step occurs. You need to find the top of all of the walls you are planning on installing a network jack in. You can do this using a measuring tape and the fixtures located in the same place in the attic and in the room. For example, the air conditioner vents.
The top of the wall is typically a 2×4 and stands out from your sheetrock ceiling. After you have identified the top of the wall, drill a medium or small hole for running the cable down. Do that in each of the locations where you will be installing network drops.
Fr your central location, most likely you will need to drill a bigger hole since several cables are going to be running through it.
Cut The Holes
The next thing that you need to do is find the areas where you are planning to install each of the jacks and cut holes into the drywall for mounting your gang boxes. Before you start to cut, use the box’s face to trace its size and use your level to ensure everything is straight.
To cut holes, drill into the middle of the marked-off rectangle, and use your keyhole saw and cut around the edges. The edges can be sanded if you want to have a smooth final look.
You might need a two-gang wall box at your central location, which is bigger and allows for more ports. You need to decide on that before you start your installation process.
Next pull the cable runs to each of the jack points, starting at the central location. Put the box of cable right outside of the new hole you just cut into the wall. “Fish” down the wall from the attic with fish tape until you can see it through the hole inside the wall.
You can either run a pull string or the cable can either be attached to the fish tape directly. I recommend the pull string since one continuous piece can be kept going as you are pulling the cable runs.
Pull the cable up through our wall and then run it across your attic to your new drop’s location. Make sure you pull around another fifteen feet for running down and wall and over to the jack. Drop your cable down in the hole that your drill at the top of the wall. If there is a lot of debris in the wall or it is thin, the fish tape can be used to run the cable down the wall and into the cutout below.
After you have finished one run, the cable should be cut off at the box, then re-attach the cable from the bock over to the pull stringand begin your next run. Continue to do this until you have cables running to all of your planned jack locations.
Mount The Wall Boxes
Find the cable in the hole that you cut in the wall. Pull some of the cable from the wall and then run it through an opening in the back part of the gang box. Put the gang box in the new hole and then tighten the screws in the lower left corner and upper right corner to tighten it down. That will secure the box into place.
Once you have installed all the gang boxes, the boxes should be mounted into the walls neatly and have raw cables hanging from them. Follow the instructions for your specific keystone jack model and connect an RJ-45 keystone jack to the end of each of your cable runs. Make sure to follow either the 568B or 568A wiring standards. It will be noted on your jacks.
After all of the jacks are connected to the ends of the cables, the keystone jack can be snapped into the wall plates and then the wall plates can be screwed into the gang boxes that are in the wall.
Congratulations, you are finished installing network wiring inside your home.