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How to Install an Ethernet Jack for a Home Network – Part 3

How to Install an Ethernet Jack for a Home Network.

An old work wall box is installed in the drywall to wire and mount the 2nd Ethernet jack. This project is continued from How to Install an Ethernet Jack for a Home Network – Part 2.

Install an Ethernet Old Work Wall Box

The outlet will be located in the corner of the room. This location was chosen because it was close to the entertainment console and the wall cavity was readily accessible from the ceiling crawlspace. The electrical box dimensions were marked on the wall. The level is to ensure the outlet is plumb (true to vertical). The hole is cut by hand with a drywall jab saw. Tip: Saw on the push stroke to direct the dust into the wall cavity to minimize the mess on the carpet.

I used an old work electrical box in this project because I had one left over from another job. An old work low voltage mounting bracket would be a better choice and more convenient here, especially if installing several Ethernet drops or other low voltage home theater wiring.

Ethernet Outlet Box Opening Marked on the Drywall

Ethernet Outlet Box Opening Marked on the Drywall

The opening is cut in the drywall and the outlet box fitted as shown:

Fitting the Old Work Electrical Box in the Drywall

Fitting the Old Work Electrical Box in the Drywall

Fishing Ethernet Cable Inside the Wall

Working in the crawlspace between the 1st floor and the basement ceiling, I needed to run the cable down the wall to the opening for the new outlet. This problem is I needed to drill a hole through the horizontal bracing between the wall studs to the reach the basement floor level and the outlet box.

The solution is a six (6) foot long by 3/4 inch diameter drill bit! This is a Greenlee D’versibit Flexible Drill Bit that costs around $50.

72 inch Long Flexible Drill Bit

72 inch Long Flexible Drill Bit


The drill bit is placed between the basement wall studs:

Fishing Ethernet Cable: Drill Bit between the Basement Wall Studs

Fishing Ethernet Cable: Drill Bit between the Basement Wall Studs

The drill is attached and a 3/4 inch hole drilled through the 2×4 bracing.

Hole Drilled through the 2x4 Bracing to Fish Ethernet Cable

Hole Drilled through the 2×4 Bracing to Fish Ethernet Cable

Being a resourceful Handyman and building upon the crescent wrench technique, I went back to my tool box, got a 1/4 inch socket wrench extension and duct taped it to the Ethernet cable. This provided a heavy pointed weight to fish the Ethernet cable through the hole in the wall bracing.

Fishing Ethernet Cable: Duct Tape Cable to a Socket Wrench Extension

Fishing Ethernet Cable: Duct Tape Cable to a Socket Wrench Extension

The socket wrench extension dropped easily through the hole:

Fishing Ethernet Cable in a 2x4 Wall

Fishing Ethernet Cable in a 2×4 Wall

Back at floor level, I reached inside the wall and pulled the cable through the opening cut in the drywall for the new Ethernet outlet.

Fishing Ethernet Cable to Install an Ethernet Jack

Fishing Ethernet Cable to Install an Ethernet Jack

The cable is fed through an old work outlet box. An old work outlet box has wings that automatically flare out and grab the inside of the drywall when box is mounted and the screws tightened. Notice that I broke off the wire cover because it would pinch the Cat 5e cable and either kink it (causing signal loss) or possible break the light gauge wires.

An old work low voltage mounting bracket is a better choice than an outlet box because there’s more room to reach in and pull cable.

Install an Ethernet Wall Jack: Old Work Outlet Box

Install an Ethernet Wall Jack: Old Work Outlet Box

The kit for wiring up the new Ethernet jack consists of:

  • Two port wall plate
  • Blank insert
  • Ethernet jack
Ethernet Wall Jack Wiring Kit

Ethernet Wall Jack Wiring Kit

The new jack is wired as before and snapped into the wall plate.

New Ethernet Jack and Wall Plate

New Ethernet Jack and Wall Plate

The wall plate ready with the jack and blank insert.

Wall Plate with Ethernet Jack and Blank Insert

Wall Plate with Ethernet Jack and Blank Insert

The wall plate is mounted to the outlet box with the provided screws. Notice the cordless drill is set to a low speed and low torque value of “3″ for a gentle touch.

Mount the Ethernet Jack Wall Plate

Mount the Ethernet Jack Wall Plate

The Ethernet jack upstairs is connected to the NetGear desktop router and a laptop is used to verify Internet connectivity and LAN connection speed (Start –> Control Panel –> Network Connections –> Local Area Connection).

Home Network Ethernet RJ-45 Jack Speed Test

Home Network Ethernet RJ-45 Jack Speed Test

Lastly, a standard Ethernet cable is plugged into the new RJ-45 wall jack and the Xbox 360. My son reports the Xbox Live performance is much improved and very pleased.

Multi-Room Ethernet Wiring Solution

As a follow-up to the original article, a reader asked what the wiring would look like for Ethernet jacks to several rooms. The following diagram illustrates the multi-room solution:

Ethernet Home Network Wiring Diagram

Ethernet Home Network Wiring Diagram


Local Area Network (LAN) Connection Diagram

The cable or DSL modem is connected to an Ethernet Switch to distribute the broadband internet service to a wall plate with four Ethernet jacks serving different rooms in the home. An inexpensive 5-port NetGear FS105NA Ethernet Switch is shown with a four position wall plate. Wall plates are available with 1 to 12 jack positions.

I personally use an 8-port NetGear FS108P Ethernet Switch with four Power-over-Ethernet Ports for my Panasonic Network Cameras as illustrated below. The NetGear Switch is connected a Linksys WRT54G WiFi router so I’ve got the bet of both worlds, wired and wireless networks.

Ethernet Home Network Diagram with PoE

Ethernet Home Network Diagram with PoE

This is a photo of the my home network equipment on a crowded shelf. From left to right are:

  • Comcast cable modem
  • NetGear WNDR4500 WiFi router
  • ISY-99i Home Automation Controller
  • NetGear Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • NetGear Skype WiFi phone base unit
  • Vonage VoIP phone adapter
Home Networking Gear - Cable Modem, WiFi Router and GigE POE Switch

Home Networking Gear – Cable Modem, WiFi Router and GigE POE Switch

I’m really in need of a structured wiring panel. Please see the comments section below for addition information about structured wiring panels.

Hope this helps,

Bob Jackson

Copyright © 2014 HandymanHowTo.com   Reproduction strictly prohibited.

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83 Responses to How to Install an Ethernet Jack for a Home Network – Part 3

  1. JAY March 2, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Good write-up! I have a modem/router combo unit and I hope to network my house by summer-time. I don’t have a switch but I don’t think I need one. Do you think it would work with just the modem/router unit?

    • Bob Jackson March 2, 2010 at 9:06 am #

      You don’t need an Ethernet switch like the Netgear FS108 that I used unless you need:
      A) More Ethernet ports (8, 16 or 24 ports) for connected devices. Most modem/routers only have 4 available RJ-45 ports.
      B) Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) for things like network cameras, etc.

      You can always start with a basic modem/router combo and add an unmanaged (e.g. the FS108 like I have) or managed (if your traffic management needs warrant it) Ethernet switch. It’s very easy to grow the network, so no need to worry.

  2. Zach T. March 31, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    Awesome write up! Be sure to use Cat5e Plenun Sheilded cable though if you are running them near duct work in the walls. It’s best to just use it everywhere in the walls too. I’ve bean meaning to do the same, but I’m still planning out the wired network layout throughout the house and finding the budget. You should purchase a small server cabinet with shelves to manage your cables and devices. They’re cheap, shelved, easy to hide cables/power strips with, usually contain cooling fans, and can even be purchased cheaper if you know of a local Datacenter or IT Company that houses any networking/server equipment. They should welcome someone wanting to purchase their uneeded equipment.

    • Bob Jackson April 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

      Thanks for mentioning Cat5e Plenum Cable, however, some explanation is needed before we go off confusing people about stuff most of us don’t need:

      * HandyManHowTo.com is written for the Do-It-Yourself / Homeowner.

      * Most homes do not have plenum airspace as may be found in a commercial office building in the ceiling area or with raised floors.

      * Plenum cable is very expensive and most often found in commercial installations.

      * The typical 2×4 wood- or metal stud drywall wall construction found in most homes is dead (non-circulating) air space. Standard Cat5e cable can safely be used here or in attics.

      Your advice is well taken. The point here is a “best practice” is don’t run your Cat5e cable inside or next to an air duct, rather choose a different wall cavity for cabling.

      Thanks for reading,
      Bob Jackson

  3. Gary May 10, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    I too am a novice at installing a wired network. I was about to buy a
    RJ45 crimping tool but apparently this tool is not required.

  4. Mark June 4, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    Thanks for the detail step by step on doing your own network. I do have mine set up but am on the process of upgrading/remodeling and needing some info on installing jacks before going to hardware store to get. I’m now sure I can do this with no problem. My modem/router will look a look better with less wires and holes in the walls……LOL

  5. Adan July 7, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Great write up! Really liked the picture you took with the drill and 6 ft. drill bit! Thanks!

    In response to Gary’s comment:

    Crimping tools are not really needed unless you are creating new, complete ethernet cords from existing wire, or repairing the ends of existing ethernet cords.
    So if you are going to buy lots of wire and intend to use it externally (visibly indoors), I would suggest buying a crimping tool. You’ll needed it to create a connection from a device to the wall plate. Otherwise, just buy another ethernet cord.

  6. Justin July 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Is their a way to check jack continuity (or jack to jack continuity) ?
    I’ve seem testers to test terminated ethernet cables but I’m still unsure on testing jacks or in wall installations.

    • Bob Jackson July 14, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

      A simple way to test for continuity between any two ethernet jacks is to plug an Ethernet switch into the first and your laptop into the other. If the Link LED is illuminated, you have continuity.

  7. Marc September 10, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    I am planning to do the same thing for the same reason, but I’m not a handyman. You make this look easy, but I know my limits. I’m only going 50 feet, but not sure I’ll be able to pull it off.

    • Bob Jackson September 11, 2010 at 8:42 am #

      You can do it. Practice the techniques and plan ahead. Get a 2ft x 2ft drywall repair panel for $4 at Home Depot or Lowes to practice the cuts and wall outlet installation. Punch down a couple of Ethernet jacks on a short length of Cat5e cable and test that it works. Snip off the ends and do it again. The rest is just grunt work, crawling around the attic or basement pulling cable. Take care to stay away from the house electrical wiring for safety and to avoid interference.

  8. Joseph Kankowski January 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    I want to run an ethernet jack in my living room wall. Problem is, its an external wall, meaning there is insulation in it. The wall is about 11ft to the ceiling, and im not sure how to get all the insulation out. Would there be someway to just get the cable through the existing insulation?

    • Bob Jackson January 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

      If you want to run the Cat5 cable across the ceiling and drop it down the wall to a new Ethernet jack, you’ll need a wire fish stick like the LABOR SAVING DEVICES 81-130 Creep-Zit” Green Fiberglass Wire Running Kit (LABOR SAVING DEVICES 81130).

      Push the wire fish stick upwards through the outlet box hole in the drywall to the attic along the craft paper face of the insulation. Working in the attic, you’ll have some tricky – but doable – effort to poke the fish stick up through a hole drilled in the 2×4 wall top plate. Once the fish stick is pushed through the hole in the top plate to the attic, attach the Cat5 cable to the stick and pull the stick and cable down and out to the room below.

      An easier approach may be running the Cat5 cable along the baseboard around the room to the location where you want the outlet. If the room is carpeted, the Ethernet cable will tuck nicely out of sight between the baseboard and carpet. If you have wood or tile floors, consider pulling off the baseboard to tuck the cable behind the baseboard at the bottom edge of the drywall, replacing the baseboard when you’re done.

  9. Joseph Kankowski January 27, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    Just a note; the insulation type is not paper, it’s loose insulation

    • Bob Jackson January 28, 2011 at 8:03 am #

      The fish stick will punch through loose (blown) insulation.

  10. Joseph Kankowski January 30, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Thanks for the help, im all ready to go. But now that im converting some machines from WiFi to ethernet, how will i share MS workgroups with the still wireless machines?

    A little ascii diagram to help understand what im getting at
    modem->8 port switch->wifirouter/wired jacks

    Bottom line: i need to get the computers on the 8 port switch to be able to access MS workgroups with wireless clients. Any ideas?

    • Bob Jackson January 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

      You need to slightly rearrange the network connectivity in your diagram from:

      modem->8 port switch->wifirouter/wired jacks

      to

      Modem — (WAN port) WiFi Router (LAN port) — 8 Port Switch — Wired Jacks

      See the “Ethernet Home Network Diagram with PoE” image above which illustrates this network configuration.

      The WiFi router is the default gateway, DHCP server and router for all LAN devices. The 8 port switch cannot be between the router and modem. Connect the 8 port switch to a LAN port on the WiFi router and you’ll be fine.

  11. Brian Arsenault February 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    First off, thanks for sharing and taking the time to help.
    Question;
    When choosing a route to run the cat5 wire, can you route the wiring above and over a florescent light, and if so, can you run the cat5 wire in close proximity to electrical wires?
    Question;
    Is there a loss of signal if you kink the cat5 wire or dress it to a panel at a 90 degree bend?

    Thank so much

    • Bob Jackson February 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

      Unshielded Cat5e should be kept at least 6 inches from household electrical wiring. Fluorescent lights can cause noise because the ballast may operate a high frequencies in the kiloherz (kHz) range. Screen shielded twisted pair (S/STP, S/FTP) Cat5 cable is available for noisy environments.

      Cat5 cable is subject to crosstalk if kinked because the twisted pairs can be flattened, causing the pairs to untwist. The TIA/EIA-568-B.1-1 cabling standard states:

      10.2.1.3 Minimum patch cable bend radius
      The minimum inside bend radius, under no load conditions, for 4-pair UTP patch cable shall be 6mm (0.25 in). The minimum inside bend radius, under no load conditions, for 4-pair ScTP patch cable shall be 50 mm (2.0 in).”

      UTP is Unshield Twisted Pair, meaning the common Cat5e cable that I used in this project, should be bent no smaller than about the size of a pen or pencil.

      ScTP (screened twisted pair) is shielded cable which requires a bend radius no smaller than 2 inches.

  12. Justin February 10, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    I couldn’t help but notice that you have used Leviton ethernet-port inserts to fit into an On-Q wall plate. Leviton is sold @ Lowe’s, and On-Q sold @ Home Depot (at least here in Springfield, Mo)

    My question is (since I am doing this myself, but on a single-story house and I’m coming up from the under-house crawlspace into the wall as opposed to dropping down from the attic) do those two companies make interchangeable parts? Leviton seems to be much more expensive than On-Q so it’d be nice to go with the cheaper. Thanks!

  13. Justin February 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    Sorry! Leviton is sold @ Home Depot, On-Q @ Lowe’s. Also this is an awesome how-to! Thanks for taking the time to document for us!

    • Bob Jackson February 10, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

      The wall plates were beside the Cat5e jacks on the store display and fits perfectly. Cat5e jacks and plates are standard stuff. Until you asked, I never gave it a second thought.

      I’m glad you found the wiring tutorial helpful.

  14. Ray Drevojan February 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Thanks Bob for your step by step instructions on the Ethernet wiring.
    I appreciate all your efforts to inform “all us grunts” on the proper
    hook-up of our home networks and devices. This website is a valuable
    resource! Thanks again,RD

  15. roy March 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    Hello,
    Thank you very much for this instruction,I am wondering if you can tell me what’s name of that blue outlet box,where i can get it?
    Thanks.

    • Bob Jackson March 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

      The blue box in the first image is an “old work” wall box that’s widely available in the electrical section of home improvement stores – Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

  16. Shawn March 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Why do you need the outlet box? Can’t you just run the ethernet directly to the wall plate, and screw the wall plate into the drywall?

    • Bob Jackson March 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      The wall plate has small machine thread screws that won’t hold well in drywall. The outlet box is easy to install for a professional looking job and also provides some support for the cables.

  17. Victor April 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    WOW, this is a great article. I’m so nervous about doing this job, i have a one story house with a crawl space attic and I am going to “attempt” to install these Ethernet jacks in every room including 2 in the basement. Wish me luck i am going to need it.

    Thanks again!

    • Bob Jackson April 21, 2011 at 4:18 am #

      Good luck! I’m sure you’ll do fine.

  18. Peter Pickering June 8, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Great “How-to” article. Just what I needed to get started but I have a couple questions.

    First of all, I have 7 cable outlets in my house and one is in the basement. I was thinking of setting up my network base there. My question is, will it be ok to use a cable splitter with one line going to the modem and the other to a tv (plan to finish the basement down the road)? Will I lose speed by splitting the cable connection?

    I did think about running another separate cable line from the attic to the basement but I want to avoid doing that if I will not lose much speed by splitting the cable connection. What do you suggest?

    Peter

    • Bob Jackson June 8, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

      Seven coax cable outlets in the house means there’s one or more splitters. Each splitter results in a huge loss in signal strength, for example a 2-way splitter cuts the signal strength over 50%. Below a certain threshold, a weak signal means poor cable modem performance – lot’s of resets, signal errors and slow Internet speeds. You could add an RF amplifier but that amplifies both signal and noise. If the cable modem is behind a bunch of splitters, it’ll be driving the RF upstream at maximum transmit power which also causes noise and signal errors.

      The correct way to connect the cable modem is on a 2-way splitter at the beginning of the line, which may be at the coax drop outside the house in a weather proof box (service entrance) or the first cable split inside the house. See Structured Wiring How To for a nice diagram of a cable modem connected at the beginning of the line with a 2-way splitter.

      Use quality splitters and RF coax cable. Poor components or low grade cable can be a problem.

      Lastly, log into your cable modem diagnostic web page and verify the RF and performance levels are within spec. Your cable company Customer Care personnel can remotely verify the cable modem performance levels and tell you if there’s a signal quality problem.

  19. Erik Schwebach July 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    My home was prewired for ethernet, all the rooms in the house come down to a “network interface device” in the basement. There are no ports in the NID in order to run a patch cable from the NID to my router to make all the ports live. So I decided to install a 4 port jack next to it. I took the Cat5e cable marked “study” where I want to move my computer, removed it from the NID, and installed a Levitron plug just like you did in the how-to. I then ran a patch cable from the router to the port I just created, but no-dice. I don’t get a signal. Am I missing something I should be doing? Thanks for the help and the how-to was very well done.

  20. Erik Schwebach July 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    The box in my basement may not be called a Network Interface Device, I think that is outside my home. I am not sure what it is called but all the cat 5 cables from my home terminate there.

    • Bob Jackson July 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

      I think what you’re referring to as a NID is really a Cat5e patch panel. Is this so? If not, please e-mail a photo to bob [at] handymanhowto.com and we’ll go from there.

    • Bob Jackson July 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

      Or better, your “NID” is probably a structured wiring panel. Does it look similar to one of these Leviton panels?

  21. Erik Schwebach July 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    It looks more like the Cat 5e patch panel. It is all punch down with no other ports on it. Thanks for your help.

    • Bob Jackson July 2, 2011 at 8:33 am #

      The “NID” is just a Cat 5e patch panel that’s there to organize the cabling (structured wiring): each Cat5e cable is punched down on the back to match a single RJ45 jack on the front. If you replace the 4-port wall jack in this diagram with the Cat5e patch panel in the basement, it should match your situation.

      You’ll need to install a Ethernet switch in the basement wiring panel to light up the Ethernet drops to other rooms in the house, as illustrated in the aforementioned diagram. Use short patch cables to connect the Ethernet switch ports to the patch panel RJ45 ports and label each patch cable.

  22. Erik Schwebach July 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    The problem is there are no ports on the patch panel, that’s why I just removed the cable marked “study” and installed it in the 4 port wall jack and then plugged my router into that jack. So in the diagram I have a router instead of a switch but everything else is the same. I just don’t know why it isn’t working. Is the switch required? The only other thing I can think of is that the cable is mislabled.

    • Bob Jackson July 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

      > The problem is there are no ports on the patch panel
      Hmm, that doesn’t sound like a Ethernet patch panel, rather some other type of punch down block. Can you e-mail a photo of the basement panel and cables? Send it to bob [at] handymanhowto.com. Include any markings or labels that state the manufacturer and model #’s.

      > that’s why I just removed the cable marked “study” and installed it in the 4 port wall jack and then plugged my router into that jack.
      Please confirm this is your network connectivity path – which should work just fine – a switch in the basement panel is not required:
      cable modem — patch cable — (Internet port) router (LAN port) — patch cable — wall jack — Cat5e cable drop inside the walls — 4 port jack in basement — cable drop from/to the Study — wall jack — patch cable — computer

      I’d like to see your basement panel to better understand how the cables are being terminated.

      • Bob Jackson July 4, 2011 at 9:12 am #

        Erik – thanks for the photos of the basement wiring. I see the problem. The Cat5e cable in your home wasn’t installed for Ethernet, but for the phones.

        Here’s what you have:
        * A phone wiring 66 punch down block.
        * Two tan colored Cat-3 cables from the phone company into the top of the 66 block. Only 2 wires from each Cat3 cable are punched down, to support two phone lines.
        * Several blue Cat5e Ethernet cables from the various rooms with only 2 of the 4 pairs are punched down to the 66 block. This matches the two pairs from the Cat3 phone lines.

        A phone line requires 2 wires (tip & ring). The two Cat3 cables make up two phone lines (2 pairs for 4 wires). The two phone lines are carried over 2 pairs of the Cat5e cable to the phone jacks in the other rooms. Notice how the unused Cat5e wire pairs are wrapped around the cable.
        66 Block Cat3 Cat5 Phone Wiring

        Closeup of the 66 block phone wiring:
        66 Block Cat3 Cat5 Phone Wiring Closeup

        If you disconnect a blue Cat5e cable from the 66 block, you’ll deactivate the phone jack in the corresponding room. You can confirm this by opening up a phone jack in one of the rooms and see that it’s Cat5e wired to the phone jack.

        I didn’t see the 4 port jack you wired up and where those Cat5e cables were (re)located. Did you remove those Cat5e cables from the 66 block? If so, how is that Cat5e cable terminated at the other end in the upstairs room?

        The builder wired your home for only for phone lines, this isn’t a data capable installation.

  23. Erik Schwebach July 5, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    I had a feeling it was set up for phone but I thought I could make it work for ethernet as well. I don’t care about phone in the study. Here is what I did:

    * Removed the ethernet cable for the “study” from the punch down 66 block, installed a levitron cat5e port to the end.

    * In the study I opened the wall jack, it had two cat5e ports with wires from the one cat 5e cable leading to both ports (set up for phone?). I removed the 8 wires from the 2 ports and applied them to one of the ports just like I did in the basement. Now the cat5e cable is terminated with a cat5e port and snapped into the wall plate.

    * Snapped the cat5e port in the basement into the 4 port wall plate and plugged the router into it using a patch cable.

    Thanks, Erik

    • Bob Jackson July 5, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      I’m pleased you got it working by disconnecting the Cat5e cable marked “study” from the 66 block in the basement and punching it down to an RJ45 jack, then rewiring the wall jack in the study for Ethernet.

      > * In the study I opened the wall jack, it had two cat5e ports with wires from the one
      > cat 5e cable leading to both ports (set up for phone?).
      Right, the wall jacks in the study were setup for two phone lines which is consistent with the two tan-colored Cat3 phone cables going into the basement 66 block.

      For a phone line in the study, you can always buy a cordless DECT phone for the kitchen (or where ever there’s a live phone jack) and place a DECT phone extension in the study.

  24. BugMagnet July 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    I only skimmed the comments, but didn’t see any alternative mentioned to the blue box. A better choice is a low voltage box such as made by Carlton, available at home depot for under $2:

    http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100160916/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053&superSkuId=202891090

    The back is totally open making fishing wires easier and less problem crimping ot sharply bending the CAT5/6 cable.

    • Bob Jackson July 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

      The low voltage box is a good choice. I have a new Cat5e drop to install and will post photos.

  25. William V. August 24, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    Thanks for the web site, Bob!
    I am getting ready to run some cat 6 from my router to several rooms and this has helped me.
    I ordered parts from http://www.monoprice.com
    Again thank you for taking time to do this site!
    regards,
    William V.

  26. Mark September 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Great review! I’m curious, is there a difference for Cat 5e and Cat 6 when selecting the keystone used? I want to run Cat 6 for future proofing but I don’t know if I need specific keystones. Thanks!

  27. Isaac October 24, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    Ugh, I am so sick of the wifi in my room! My PC is brilliant but the wireless internet dongle completely lets it down. I wish you were my dad Bob.

  28. Kevin October 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Great article, i found it very helpful. I just ran 3, 60 foot runs of Cat5e frm my router to entertainment center by dropping wires from the main floor down to an unfinished basement. During the run, all three wires cross over 2 air ducts. I did not buy plenum wire. In this situation, do I need to use plenum wires and what is the risk if I just use regular Cat5e riser wire.

    • Bob Jackson October 31, 2011 at 4:22 am #

      Plenum wire is needed when cable is run inside an air duct – a rare situation outside of commercial buildings where the entire crawlspace is the duct. Search the comments in this series for more details. Your situation where the cable simply crosses the air duct is fine with standard cable.

  29. Duane January 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Do you run multpiple computers on the same domain? I have a Netgear wireless router to a Netgear switch but can only see those computers that are hooked directly to the wireless router or using the wireless signal. Would this be a setting in the Netgear wireless router or does the wiring need to be some form of a cross over type?

    Thanks

    • Bob Jackson January 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

      I’m running a “flat” LAN network – all devices are in the same subnet and no VLANs. If your switch is plugged into a LAN port on the WiFi router then you should be good. I assume you have a simple unmanaged switch. Check your router DHCP lease table to see if the switch devices are pulling an IP address. You could have a bad Cat5e cable, too. Use a standard Ethernet cable – a crossover cable will not work. Also check the Netgear Support Site.

  30. Trey January 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Great tutorial!!! I am planning to run cat 5e cable at my house soon. I will be running cat 5 from the main floor down to a unfinished basement. My question is about the different type of Cat 5e cables. What is the difference between CM (in-wall rated) and CMR (riser rated)? I looked on monoprice and didn’t know which one to buy.

    http://www.monoprice.com/products/subdepartment.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10233

    Any help will be appreciated.

    • Bob Jackson January 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Riser cable is also known as “plenum” cable. Please see my answer dated April 1, 2010 at 6:36pm in the comments section to another reader’s question on this topic.

      The short answer is you don’t need plenum or riser rated cable for pulling cables through walls. Riser cable needed for it’s fire-resistant properties when pulling cable within air conditioning ducts or plenum spaces.

  31. Trey February 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Thanks Bob for the info about the cat5 cable. I have bought the cable but have another question to ask. My house already have coaxial cable installed in several of the room. The cable is running to the main floor to the basement. In the living room, I want to pull the cat5 cable through the same hole that the coaxial cable currently run through. The problem is that the hole is too small to run both the coaxial and cat5 cable and need to be enlarged. Is it ok to use a drill with a bigger bit to enlarge the hole or do I need use a different tool to do this?

    Thanks, again.

    • Bob Jackson February 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      The coax cable would need to pulled back into to the floor hole to safely drill the hole larger, otherwise the coax cable would be damaged. What I would do is drill a new hole about 1/2 inch away from the old one and fish the Cat5e through it.

  32. Paula April 18, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    Hi Bob
    my question is we have a boiler (newer style) but I assume all the copper pipes are pretty standard. Anyway having a boiler we have all these nice little paths threw out our house between walls and threw floors in the past we have used a couple of these spaces to run our coax cable threw and haven’t had any issues but would I be able to run
    an ethernet cable up in the same way, it would near touch or lets say it would contact the hot copper pipe what kind if any ethernet cable should we use we would need about 50ft to do what we need or is this just a bad idea. any advice would be great. after reading on your site I am sure I could do it like you did, but if I could cheat it would be so much less work but I dont want to harm anything in the process we have checked those coax to see if there has been any damage and they look good and have been working great for seven years thanks Paula

    ======

    Sorry Bob I forgot to add: in this install the ethernet cable would be touching or very near the pipe for approx 4″ and as I am thinking it may be possible to get a barrier of insulation between the pipe and the cable not alot the hole threw the floor has a liitle space to work with would this maybe work? thanks again Paula

    • Bob Jackson April 19, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      By “boiler” do you mean a contemporary residential gas or electric hot water heater as opposed to an old style stream heat radiator?

      The maximum operating temperature rating of standard Cat5e cable is 140 degrees F (= 60 degree C).

      If you have a contemporary hot water heater then running standard Cat5e cable next to the pipes is OK, especially if you set the heater thermostat to 120 degrees F like I do in my home. I find that 120 deg F is plenty hot with minimal danger of scalding.

      However, the steam pipes with an old style steam boiler & heat radiator system can get quite hot, well in excess of 212 degrees F. This exceeds the 167 degree F max temperature rating of plenum rated Cat5e cable. If this is your situation, then you’ll need to figure out another way to fish the Ethernet cable through the walls.

  33. Paula April 20, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    Thanks for your response by “Boiler” I mean Steam heat with base board
    radiators not the old cast type but the newer finned aluminum and the boiler is not that old this type of heating is best for families with lots of enviornment type allergies. Living in Minnesota requires much heat several months a year.
    Yes the pipes do get very hot so I guess we will need to drill a couple of new holes to get the job done.
    I do still wonder about pipe insulater to get that temp down around the pipe and hole I will have to investigate this
    Even as a women I do know a water heater from a boiler Thanks again

  34. Mike April 27, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    Hi Bob,

    I just finished running cat6 through the attic and onto the balcony. Your site made the job very comprehensible! Thanks for all of your hard work and the great job documenting everything!

    Mike

    • Bob Jackson April 27, 2012 at 5:36 am #

      You’re welcome and thanks for writing to me!

  35. Tony June 9, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Thanks for the article, and for keeping an eye on comments.

    My situation is a bit different: the house is already pre-wired, and has Ethernet jacks on the main floors. The cabling all runs into a cabinet downstairs, but these Ethernet cables are “unfinished”. My assumption is that they are here to be plugged into a router/switch. My question is: should I turn these ends into Ethernet plugs or jacks (I.e. male or female)? My gut is to make them male, so they can plug into my router.

    Thanks

    • Bob Jackson June 9, 2012 at 6:46 am #

      You could terminate the Ethernet cables with plugs (male) in the structured wiring panel. The better method is to install an Ethernet patch panel. The Tripp Lite N050-012 Cat5e Wall Mount Patch Panel 568B – 12 Port is a good product.

      The “unfinished” Ethernet cables coming from the various rooms in the house are punched down to the back of the patch panel, which correspond to the RJ-45 jacks on the front of the panel. You then plug in short sections of Ethernet patch cable between the panel and your router. The patch panel organizes and simplifies cable management.

  36. ayaan June 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    hi bob this is ayaan,

    one part of the cable has been crimped on the mount wall like it has coding 8712-4536 some thing like that i want to know that the other end of the cable is going to connect to the switch right so that part should be in straight coding or rollover coding .

    cheers
    ayaan

    • Bob Jackson June 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      Both ends of the Ethernet cable are wired identically to the RJ-45 jack.

      Punch down both ends of the Ethernet cable following the color code for the T568B standard on both ends as described Part 1 of the project.

  37. Rick M. July 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Bob, I have a similar problem to Eric, in that my entire house is wired for phones with Cat 5e cable and I want to hijack it and use it to get wired internet access in my basement. The problem is of course that at the 66 punch down block, only two pairs of wires are connected and like in Eric’s place, the other two pairs of wires are unused and wrapped around the cable. And the cables coming in to the 66block are not labeled, so I can’t easily tell what room they come from. What I was hoping I could do was connect all eight wires to an RJ45 plug at an outlet upstairs near my router, and again to an outlet in the basement near my TV. But then I know I have to do something at the 66block to get the unused two sets of paired wires connected. But I’m at a loss how to do that. Am I going to have to hire a network setup type technician? by the way, I have no phones connected to any jacks in the house. I have a VOIP wireless phone base station directly connected to the modem/router, and the other phones are wireless so all the hardwired phone jacks in the house are available. what do yo think?

    • Bob Jackson July 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      Based on your description, the Cat5e cable is wired to the phone jacks. Two pairs pairs of wires were used to provide two phone lines, which are the 4 wires punched down on the 66 block. (Recall a phone connection requires two wires for the Tip and Ring connections.)

      Phone jacks are often wired in daisy chains and branches. Ethernet cable must be wired as a point-to-point connection with no breaks or splices. If your existing Cat5e serves more than a single phone jack, then you won’t be able to use it for a LAN connection and will have to fish a new run of Ethernet cable.

  38. Rick M. July 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    Not what I wanted to hear. Doesn’t sound like I’m going to be able to get this one done. Thanks for the advice though.

  39. Austin July 19, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I’m looking at installing some of the logitech outdoor nightvison cameras around my house, it says they only need the ethernet plug to power and run them. So does that mean I need a ethernet switch or can i just use my router?

    • Bob Jackson July 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      You will need an Ethernet switch with Power over Ethernet (PoE) ports to power the cameras.

      When choosing a PoE Ethernet switch, you’ll need to:
      * Choose a switch with an equal number of PoE ports as there are cameras; i.e. 1 PoE switch port per camera.
      * The PoE switch must output at least 7 watts per port for the Logitech camera.
      * Verify the total PoE wattage (“power budget”) of your switch is not exceeded for all powered devices.

      For example, let’s say you have 4 cameras pulling a total of 28 watts (= 4 * 7 watts). You’ll need a switch with 4 PoE ports rated for at least 7 watts per port and 28 watts total. Something like the NetGear GS108PE would work as it provides a maximum of 15.4 watts per port and 50 watts total across all ports.

  40. Austin July 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Hey thanks that makes sence. the links were also very helpful. i’ll be buying the netgear. Thanks again!

  41. Neil R. December 9, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Hi Bob,

    I have 3 pre wired Ethernet ports in three rooms in my apartment. I linked up a netgear switch to the cable box and ran CAT5e patch cables from the switch to the patch panel. The problem I am having is that only one of the Ethernet ports on the patch panel seems to be working. I made sure the switch was working by plugging in my laptop directly. I got a perfect signal.

    Is there an easy way to get these other two ports working? At one point when I plugged in my PS3 and Roku box in separate rooms to the wall ethernet port the netgear switch showed a solid green light, the one which is working shows a flashing green light. I was unable to get internet though for those two devices. Now the light doesn’t come on at all. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Neil

    • BobJackson December 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      Hi Neil,
      Have you tried using a different patch cable? Use a known good patch cable to connect the laptop to the RJ-45 wall jack. It could be bad patch cable in the other rooms.

      No joy? Check the Ethernet jack wiring by removing the wall plates in the two bedrooms to view the back of the RJ-45 jack. Take note if the jacks are wired according to the 568-A or -B standard and the individual wire conductors are making contact on the punch-down pins. Confirm the same wiring format and good connections are made at the patch panel.

      While you’ve got the wall plates out, plug-in your laptop with a known-good patch cable see if you have Internet connectivity. Wiggle the Cat5e cable punched down on the RJ-45 jacks to see if there’s a flaky punch-down connection or broken wire. If so, rewire the RJ-45 jack.

      If you still can’t locate the problem, buy an Cat5 Ethernet cable tester:

  42. Jeff January 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Bob, great write up. A couple of questions… I’m trying to create a home structured wiring system with Cat6 and I’m not sure what items I’ll need to get everything working. In the past I’ve only needed the four ports on my wireless router, but I’m moving to a hybrid system of hard-wired connections at 6 or 7 different locations in the house as well as wireless. I’ll be using Comcast internet and I have the modem. But where do I go from here? I just can’t picture in my head or on paper how I need to run cables and draw this thing out. I’d appreciate some insight.

    Thanks!

    • BobJackson January 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      The network configuration you need is:
      Comcast Internet — Cable Modem — WiFi Router — Ethernet Switch — Cat6 cable drops — wall jacks

      See this network diagram for an example.

      Your WiFi clients (smartphones, tablets, etc) will connect via wireless to the WiFi router, while your cabled devices (desktop, laptop, IP cameras, VoIP phone adapter, home security alarm panel, etc.) will plug into the Ethernet wall jacks in the rooms.

      I use a NetGear ProSafe GS110TP Gigabit PoE Smart Switch in my home network, running “unmanaged” mode. Just plug everything in and it works!

  43. Jeff January 31, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Thanks Bob. I should be ready to install within a few weeks. I appreciate the help!

  44. Jeff January 31, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    But I’ve got the internet coming into a centralized closet and that’s where I want my switch located. But that’s not where I want to put my wireless router. How do I set this up then? I want the wireless router out in the open in the room, not stuffed away in a closet. Would it be best if I just purchased an access point or two and then tapped into the switch? I’m just really confused, now. I originally thought I could go straight from the modem and upload into the switch and then out to the rooms… But you’re saying that’s not the case, right?

    • BobJackson January 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      The WiFi router needs to be connected to the cable modem because the router is your default gateway/router for all LAN clients. If the Ethernet switch is in the central wiring closet and you want to locate the router out in the open in the same or another room, setup the following network configuration:

      Comcast — cable modem in closet — Cat6 cable — (WAN side) WiFi router in the room (LAN side) — Cat6 cable back to closet — Ethernet switch in closet — Cat6 cable drops — wall jacks throughout the house

      To clean up the Cat6 cables looped to/from the closet and WiFi router, you can install two new Ethernet wall jacks. If the WiFi router will be placed in the room with the wiring closet and you have carpet, there’s usually enough space to press the cables under the baseboard along the edge of the carpet to keep these out of sight to avoid installing new wall jacks.

  45. cyang92 March 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    is there a way you can control which port works by plugging in the ethernet cords in the circuit panel where all the coaxial cords and ethernet ports meet up? like for instance the panel for my coaxial and ethernet is in the master closet and if you find a way to set up the ports there, will you still have to run around in the attic trying to connect it?

    • BobJackson March 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      The Ethernet Cat5e or Cat6 cable must always be run from the structured wiring panel in the master closet to the various rooms and wall jacks because these are point-to-point circuits. The Ethernet wiring runs are commonly called “cable drops”.

      What you can do is selectively enable the Ethernet drops / wall jacks by plugging in Ethernet patch cables for only the rooms where you want Internet connections between the structured wiring panel and your Ethernet switch or router ports. For example, suppose your switch/router only has 4 Ethernet ports but there are 9 cable drops/wall jacks. Plug in 4 patch cords between the switch/router and the wiring panel for only the rooms that you want Internet service.

      These structured wiring tutorials may be helpful:
      * Wiring Panel for Structured Wiring
      * Sample Structured Home Wiring Projects. The wiring diagram is nicely done!

  46. Mikki April 19, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    We have a Mediacom provided wireless modem/router with four Ethernet RJ-45 ports. Our wireless was working great on all devices until we finished our basement. Now we get intermittent connectivity. My husband ran a CAT5e cable and terminated at wall jacks at both ends. We can tone it out but get an orange light on the modem/router when the cable is plugged in. No link lights on the PC Ethernet port. Would this most likely be the pin out configuration?

    • BobJackson April 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      Hi Mikki,
      What is the Mediacom cable modem/wireless router connectivity? I imagine it’s something like:

      Mediacom coax cable — Mediacom cable modem/wireless gateway — Cat5e patch cable #1 — wall jack — new Cat5e drop to basement — wall jack — Cat5e patch cable #2 — PC (no Internet)

      > Our wireless was working great on all devices until we
      > finished our basement. Now we get intermittent connectivity.
      Not sure why your WiFi service was impacted. Try unplugging the Ethernet patch cable #1 from the Mediacom gateway to disconnect the new wall jack and see if this makes a difference. Check your network status by logging into the Mediacom Home Network Manager to verify Broadband = Connected, My Wireless Network is Enabled and what devices (smartphones, computers, etc.) are connected to the network. See the Mediacom Home Network Manager User Guide for details.

      > We can tone it out but get an orange light on the modem/router when
      > the cable is plugged in. No link lights on the PC Ethernet port.
      > Would this most likely be the pin out configuration?
      My guess is the punch-down wiring one or both Ethernet jacks has a problem. Try the following troubleshooting steps and see if the PC in the basement has Internet access after each step:
      1. Reboot the PC in the basement and see if you now have Internet connectivity.
      2. Power cycle the Mediacom wireless gateway.
      3. Try a different set of standard Ethernet patch cables (#1 & #2 in the above daisy chain diagram) between the modem/wireless gateway and the basement PC.
      4. Rewire (punch down) a new Ethernet wall jack upstairs.
      5. Rewire (punch down) a new Ethernet wall jack in the basement.
      6. Revisit the Home Network Manager page to see what devices are detect on your network.

      Have you practiced punching down a short section of Cat5e to check your work? Make a 6 foot section of cable with punch down jacks and test the modem to PC connectivity using that for confidence.

      If you’re still having problems, consider buying a Cat5e cable tester. Scroll up to see my comment dated December 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm for a cable tester product link.

      Let me know what you find the problem.

      Thanks,
      Bob

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