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I'm going to mount my 47" LCD above my fireplace. I'm not looking for arguments against this decision. I'm looking for wiring solutions. The diagram below should help explain the situation.

|     |     |    | |   |   |   | |    |     |     |
|     |     |    | |   |   |   | |    |     |     |
|     |     |    | |   |   |   | |    |     |     |
|     |     |    | | p |   | m | |    |     |     |
|     |     |    | |   |   |   | |    |     |     |
|     |     |    #################    |     |     |
|     |     |    ##             ##    |     |     |
|     |     |    ##             ##    |     |     |
|    P|     |    ##             ##  m |     |P C  |
  • | = stud
  • # = fireplace brick
  • P = existing power outlet
  • C = existing cable outlet
  • p = new power outlet
  • m = new media outlet

Essentially, there is an existing power outlet on either side of the fireplace and a cable outlet on the far right side of the fireplace. I'm intending to put my non-TV media equipment on the right side of the wall and the television above the fireplace. This means I need two things above the fireplace: power and HDMI. I don't want to just run an HDMI cable in the wall. I'd prefer to have some sort of conduit to simplify replacing the cable or having a second (with one of these on each end: http://amzn.to/xYaxMn). I only need to drill through two studs that are 6" apart above the right side of the fireplace in order to access the vertical space where I want the other end. For the power, I need to drill through two 6"-spaced studs above the left-side of the fireplace, but then another 2 full-height studs.

There are a couple of caveats:

  1. This is an externally facing wall, which means there's insulation. I'm assuming this will make things more difficult.
  2. I'd like to refrain from cutting more holes in the wall than is necessary for the outlets (to reduce drywall damage/repair).

I've considered a couple of options:

  1. Cut the openings for the outlets above the fireplace, and use a flexible drill bit to drill through the studs above the fireplace. This minimizes dry-wall damage, but how difficult is this with insulation in the wall, how can I feed the conduit through those holes, and how would I drill through the full-height studs on the left for power?

  2. Cut a wide section of dry-wall (4" high?) from the desired media outlet to the right until reaching the gap above the desired lower outlet. This results in some dry-wall damage, but would allow more control for drilling holes in the studs and running conduit. This still doesn't solve the problem of getting through the full-height stud for the power. For the power, I would need to extend the cut-out two studs further.

What should I do?

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+1 for the excellent ASCII diagram – DA01 Jan 11 '12 at 3:31
It's also worth pointing out that hanging a fireplace above a TV isn't a great idea: the TV can be harmed by the heat; it's hard on your neck; and the image quality can suffer because of off-axis viewing. The best height to put a TV at is eye level when sitting. But don't just take my word for it. – gregmac May 7 '14 at 15:03

I agree with @DA01 that it'll basically be impossible to fish horizontally through studs and insulation, without having to cut open all of the sheetrock. Then you have to deal with sealing it all back up air-tight, and patching the drywall and repainting (at least the entire wall, and maybe the entire room, depending the paint match).

So a couple alternatives:

Use a wiremold type product to surface mount the conduit:

enter image description here

There are lots of different brands, and it can be paintable. With planning, you can minimize where you see it.

Build up the wall using cabinets or a false wall, so you can run wire in behind, on top of the existing wall.

Could be as simple as just a drywall section sticking out, or some built-in cabinets or some brick work. Cabinets of course have the benefit of being able to build in other components such as your A/V gear and speakers.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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Good call on building out the wall. In fact, you could even use some form of paneling (such as nice cherry plywood or the like) where it floats from the surface but open in back. That lets you easily run wires but remain visually out of site. Ikea uses this technique in a lot of their AV cabinetry systems where the TV mounts to a panel within it rather than the wall itself. – DA01 Jan 11 '12 at 8:08

If it's sheetrock, I'd bite the bullet and cut out a section. Then you can easily remove insulation, drill studs, insert smurf tube and fish everything through easily. With the smurf tube, it should be easy to re-fish future cables as needed. (though with any luck we'll finally have wireless HDMI sooner or later...)

Yes it means you need to patch, tape, mud and paint when done, but that's likely easier than having to try and do it behind the wall as you go.

And I know asked us not to mention it, but I can't let it pass for the sake of other readers...be sure you really want it there. TVs above the fireplace look great in magazines, but typically lead to really sore necks in reality.

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Don't forget patching up the vapour barrier as well. – gregmac Jan 11 '12 at 7:47
Yes...good point, gregmac...if the exterior wall has a vapor barrier, you'll need to patch that as well. In addition, you'll want to make sure your electrical and low-voltage receptacles are fully sealed. – DA01 Jan 11 '12 at 8:06

I mounted mine above the fireplace also . I have an attic. I actually ran all the wiring in the attic . Although near the wall of course is the area where there is no clearance due to the pitch coming to the soffit at this point. I made use of my wiring rods. I cut and installed the receptacle into the ceiling. I have a console next to the fireplace for cable box, surround sound amp, PS3 ,DVD, etc. I used the afore mentioned flat trough for the wiring from the console to the TV. I have seagrass wall covering which I also applied to the wiring trough running the grain in the same direction. It blends very well.

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To share photos before you have the rep, see the steps in the faq. – BMitch Jan 28 '13 at 12:58

It was mentioned by someone else and this is an old question but I wanted to specifically call out the option to make a service cavity.

You could fir out your existing wall with horizontal 2x4s laid sideways (shallow direction) attached with screws directly over the drywall. Be careful not to use extra long screws. Code requires electrical wire to be 1 1/4" back from the surface of the studs so use screws that will not reach into the old wall further than 1.5" (1/2" drywall plus 1"). Of course, do that at your own risk since the electrician on the job might have done who knows what.

The perk of the service cavity is that you have lots of room to fish whatever you want and should be able to fish things easily in the future. The horizontal battens can work well to provide access to the typical height you want your connectors at (behind tv level or traditional outlet height). You get to leave your insulation, vapor/air barrier, and existing drywall alone. In an older home, there can hazards associated with disrupting old drywall (asbestos, lead paint, etc).

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I moved the wiring for my rear speakers from the wall to the ceiling, when I bought new surround speakers. I just cut a 1" channel to span the corner, rather than try to drill through the headers. With all the changes I have made in my 3 houses, I have gotten very good at sheetrock "invisible mending". Getting the wall smooth enough is easy, then I brush on the paint, and use a mini-roller to add texture. The hard part is to match the paint, if you haven't saved any.

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