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Our house is full-brick. Double-brick on the exterior walls and single-brick for every internal wall. It was built in 1979 (I guess they liked to do things properly then).

We've only ever had the opportunity once of adding new electrical items to the single-brick walls (like a heated towel rail, new light switch and powerpoint), when we were renovating as the electrican had to chase a huge chunk out of the wall, lay the cables, and then the hole was filled back up and painted over. That's a pretty major operation.

Is there any other way that we can add or modify the electrical items inside a single brick wall? We now want to run CAT5 and we've got all the external walls done, but not the internals.

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Not sure I understand, can you clarify a few things: are your internal walls a single layer of brick, or a single layer of brick on each side of traditional studs? Do you have gypsum board over the brick, or are all the internal walls literally painted brick? How accessible is your attic? –  richardtallent Aug 8 '10 at 7:38
    
@richard - single layer of brick, with render slapped ontop of it. No attic, but the roof space is very accessible. –  Mark Henderson Aug 11 '10 at 21:18
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1979 or 1879 for the house? –  Bryce Aug 10 '12 at 14:10
    
@Bryce - 1979... why? –  Mark Henderson Aug 11 '12 at 4:02
    
1979 is really new... it did not seem like an era where things were done properly. Where is house? –  Bryce Aug 11 '12 at 5:35

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You could do something with trunking on the surface - either put in skirting with built-in trunking or try to find some trunking that matches your skirting and put it just above... Then run all your cables through that.

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Hey that's a good idea, I like it. We don't have any skirting at all at the moment, but we want to go to floating floorboards in the near future, that could be the perfect time to do it. –  Mark Henderson Jul 23 '10 at 4:21

I highly recommend using Wiremold for this kind of project, but it depends on the aesthetics that you are going for. 1/2" EMT when bent properly gives a really neat look on exposed brick. Using a pipe bender takes a bit of skill and practice, but can be an art form on it's own.

I really don't like the idea of channeling into brick (or block) because:

  • It never looks the same again, even when you paint it
  • It weakens interior walls, which might be more prone to crumbling / falling in an earthquake prone region than they otherwise would.

500 series Wiremold should be all you need to do the job.

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Was your builder far-sighted enough to run the utilities in conduit? If so then you may be able to run CAT5 through the conduit if there's enough room remaining.

It may also be possible to run the CAT5 through the floor voids, then remove the baseboards / skirting and chase a short distance up the wall beyond.

Alternatively, if the CAT5 is for computer networking, consider wireless. I've just bought a new 802.11n hub and found it brilliant at going through masonry, even with regular 802.11g clients.

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Floor is 2' of concrete, so nothing's going to happen there. There was ONE place (phone jack) with conduit, but other than that no. I work in IT so WiFi is not fast enough for what I do really. What takes 45 minutes to transfer over wifi takes about 15 seconds over Gigabit ethernet (House is not designed well for wifi reception either) –  Mark Henderson Jul 22 '10 at 6:13
    
(I think most of us here at the moment do have an IT angle, I bet the standard of language goes down when that changes!) And yes, I'm familiar with the way that rebar seems to be a perfect Faraday shield for WiFi signals. –  Jeremy McGee Jul 22 '10 at 19:19

If the places where you want CAT5 are also places where you have existing CATV (RG-6/RG-58) or telephone cables, the answer is simple:

  1. Securely connect a fish tape to the old cable at the wall.
  2. Pull the old cable and feed the fish tape through the wall.
  3. Connect the new CAT5 cable and pull the fish tape back.

If you've switched to VOIP or cell phones, you won't miss the old telephone wiring. If you do still need that land line or CATV cable, just connect both wires to the fish tape. It'll be a tighter fit but should be fine.

Four tips on doing this:

  1. Tape is cheap. Overdo it. Lots of loops and use the tape to ensure there's nothing at the connection to the fish tape that can snag. Making a loop in the original cable is the best way to do it.
  2. Disconnect the old wiring at the network interface outside while working on it, for safety reasons.
  3. If you need to keep the old cable, use the opportunity to pull new wiring for it as well. Upgrade RG-58 to RG-6, upgrade old two-pair telephone wiring to another CAT5, etc.
  4. If you don't own a proper fish tape, buy one. It's a flat metal wire that's a breeze to feed through walls and won't break. Tried to use twine and other types of rope several times, lost a few cables in the middle of walls. Not fun.
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There are many options for running data cabling on the exterior of a wall.

Basically it sounds like your options are limited to some type of surface-run raceway or conduit. If you're set on surface mounted raceways I would honestly look at the stuff made by Panduit - everything I've used from Wiremold (generally what you find at home improvement stores) is pretty ugly imho.

It all boils down to cost and aesthetics. Personally I think using EMT would look the best for running on the exterior of a brick wall (I love the industrial/exposed services look), but there are many other types of raceways and cable trays you could use.

However if you're penetrating through a slab (running between floors) or any kind of fire barrier - you'll need to ensure whatever you're using is code compliant for running through a fire break. EMT would be code compliant - unsure about any other cabling raceway types... but every commercial building I've ever worked in uses EMT to run wiring between floors.

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A photo would help. One option it to take baseboards off and cut a cat5 grove into each one.

For the brick, you can chase along mortar joints between brick, then repoint and paint. The cat5 cable is thin enough to not make a major deal of it.

If the cat5 is coming from the attic, chase the brick down to a doorway. You'll find a gap behind the door jamb molding. Then chase the wire next to a floating floor or behind a baseboard.

Or just give up and go wireless with channel bonding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_G_(wireless_networking)

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