Question Cable(s) from loft to lounge issues, running out of ideas


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Dec 16, 2003
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I need to run a minimum of 5 Cat5e cables from my loft to the lounge and it's proving to be very frustrating.

I'm having a plasterer come in to plaster the wall where the tv and cables will be situated. He said I can butcher the wall for the speaker cable and network cable and he will make it good before he plasters.

1) I originally drilled a hole in the timber on the outside wall where the timber meets the plasterboard. I was hoping to drop the cable down to the ground floor but I think I can only get half way down as something is blocking it

2) again on the outside wall I saw an old TV aerial routed behind the dot and dab plasterboard. I made a hole at the edge of the plasterboard but can only get a few cm down before I hit what I presume is plaster for the dot and dab.

So now I am thinking of alternatives.

3) could I remove a breezeblock in the loft and route the cables down the cavity? I could then drill holes big enough to feed the cables through at the 3 points where I need them (in a line vertically). The removing of the breezeblock is to try and navigate through the cavity wall insulation so I can feed fibreglass rods down the cavity to the lounge. I'm not sure how prohibitive the insulation will be, but I have a feeling I might not get very far.

4) route the cables externally. Want to avoid this really as I live on the corner and people walk past. The cables would need to be routed down this wall as that's the side of the lounge. Something doesn't sit well with me doing this, for security or if someone wanted to maliciously cut the cables. I guess I could use steel conduit but probably not very straight forward.

Any tips/hints I could try from someone who has done this before?
Option 4 in steel or option 2 seem like you're best bets.

If it was me doing the job I'd do option 2 and cut out the dot n dab with an sds chisel, then plaster the patches. As long as the plaster is good after repainting it shouldn't really be noticeable, but it won't be perfect.

If it was option 4 you'd have to do some steel work (plastic conduit would be acceptable and easier to work with, your choice), just be aware you can't run 230v cabling along side communication or data cables in the same containment.

Honestly I'd do option 2 if it was my own home.
When installing cables through hollow / plasterboard walls. It's often necessary to notch around studs / obstacles. Rather than chasing into the plasterboard, just drill holes large enough to allow the cables to "jump" over the studs. This will also allow you to drill / notch the studs slightly if installing large cables, or multiple cables together. Then you just have some holes to fill along that wall. :smashin: You can do this same type of thing with dot & dabbed plasterboard; drill holes to get around the solid plaster. You can usually tell where it is solid by tapping the wall. :censored:

You might be able to drop wires down the cavity wall... but I don't think I would be trying that any time soon. :censored: If you do manage let us know. :D

Agreed dan, what I meant was when you hit a solid bit of plaster I prefer to chase it out rather than swerve around it.

I'm an electrician so I apply the "perscribed zones" regulation even though the cable isn't a mains voltage cable. Mainly because if the cable takes a straight route vertically or horizontally then your much less likely to drill/cut into it in future when doing something else. You know where it comes from, goes to, and it takes a straight vertical or horizontal route, so you can guess to within a few cm where it will be inside the wall.
Ok thanks for the suggestions. To clarify, I wasn't particularly clear with the plasterer comment. The cables have to come down from the loft to the lounge, in between is my bedroom which is decorated so I wouldn't want to be cutting out the plasterboard in there.

If I could get the cable half way and then start cutting in to the plasterboard in the lounge by the ceiling then that wouldn't be an issue. I might try and drill a bigger/longer hole in the loft just to get me started or move my hole a few cams across just in case I've hit a big lump of plaster. Is there likely to be a stud/timber in my way separating the first floor and ground floor or will I have a straight path down?

As for the cavity wall, I know it's not best practice but when googling I found a lot of suggestions recommending it as long as power cables aren't being run. I saw lots of mentions of network and satellite cable. Not a good idea?

If I can't get option 2 going then I think my only choice is the external route.
To get through a whole bedroom wall without hitting anything in method 2 would be hard to do, amazingly skill full or lucky as hell. If you do then put the lottery on straight away because it will be your lucky day!

Yes, there probably will be some timber in the way between the lounge ceiling and bedroom floor.

I've never used a cavity wall for running cables, I'm sure its possible, but it may be hard. If its power cables then I'd avoid it completely, again possible, but so is drinking a litre of vodka and driving.

My opinion, Option 2 with a little redecorating if it's not too much. If it's going to tear you up to damage that wall then youre left with good ole' option 4.
As for the cavity wall, I know it's not best practice but when googling I found a lot of suggestions recommending it as long as power cables aren't being run. I saw lots of mentions of network and satellite cable. Not a good idea?

If you can make it work then should be fine. :smashin:

If I can't get option 2 going then I think my only choice is the external route.

If you do decide to run external, you can buy steel armoured CAT5e for external use.


CAT5E External Steel Wired Armoured Cable

Or you could run some black PVC conduit.
I think either way it might look a little strange. :censored:

You could even run some multi-core CAT5 cable, if you can find any. :censored:

What are the CAT5e cables for? Maybe a Homeplug kit would be a better solution?

Network Attached Storage, Network Card, Network Cable, Print Server, Hardware Firewall, HomePlug -

Very good point dan, homeplug kit would work. Or contact Aclass Technology about getting media signals from a to b, Seb has a solution for every media distribution problem.

I think the Cat5e armored would look worse than conduit. It has to be cleated and is more difficult to get perfectly straight than conduit is.
Sensible suggestions from Alex. You will not get cables down a cavity filled with insulation, nor should you. You mess up the insulation, compacting it, and the cables aren't supported and may get damaged, including during installation. There also is a school of thought that cables in a cavity can cause water damage, and possibly breaching building regs?

If you do not want to alter the plasterboard in your bedroom, could you not box the new cables in, in the corner of the room?
Thanks, I think I've read enough to avoid the cavity method. Seems like it might be ok, but does introduce some risk which doesn't seem worth it for some ethernet cables.

So thinking about this some more, in my bedroom (above the lounge) I have a built in wardrobe. I can run the cables down from the loft and hide these from view. I also have access to the floorboards (the carpet is just stuck down) so was thinking of cutting a hole with the aid of a holesaw which I will cut as close to the wall as possible (hopefully there isn't a joist there). I then should be able to get down to the lounge by poking the cables behind the dot and dab. I'm hoping that by exposing the floorboards, I might see an easier route down.

Does that sound feasible? What can I expect to see when I drill my hole?
Using the wardrobe sounds like a great plan. You'd have to suck it and see with what you expect to find. Usually against a wall or very near to you will find a timber. Appart from that I can't say.
^^^^what Alex said. The issue with dot & dab, is finding a big lump of adhesive where you want to run the cables, you'll will have to negotiate around this. The adhesive dries very hard. Get yourself a 100mm hole saw. Tap the wall around the top & bottom, till you found a hollow (i.e. no adhesive) drill holes and keep the cut outs. The bottom hole should be where you want the cables to appear out of and also to be able to insert you nylon rods (which I think you said you had?) about 500mm off the floor. Shove your rods up the gap between plasterboard and brick wall, until you hit some adhesive, tap wall around that point, drill new hole etc etc. You can start at the top or bottom, and may have to run a draw cable. Once you've done, fix a wooden batten behind holes and refix your cut outs and make good. Watch out for mains cables and CH pipes etc.
Happy fishing!
Had 15 mins to work on this earlier and I think I got very lucky. I drilled a 60mm hole in the floorboard of the wardrobe which was probably a bit late but allowed me to have a good luck around.

This is what I saw:

Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet

I can clearly see the plasterboard which forms the ceiling in the lounge. Using some fibreglass rods I was able to feed 3 all the way down to the floor without any blockages or issues. I haven't tried with the network cable but I'm confident I have a good route down now.

Thanks for the suggestions and help, didn't think I'd find a way and really didn't want to go outside.

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