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I'd like to run CAT6 cable between 3 rooms which are separated by concrete walls. What are my options? I'm looking for the least intrusive way.

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Is there a basement below, or attic above that can be utilized? –  Tester101 Sep 8 '13 at 12:07
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Well no attic, but above the ceiling, all the other pipes and wiring of the house run through there. The issue is running it up the wall to that area, ideally I want to have it totally concealed but the only way that I can see is to do the "wall chasing" that @Eli Iser mentioned below. –  Fayyaadh Sep 8 '13 at 14:16
    
Is it solid concrete or concrete block? The latter has hollow spaces in the middle of the blocks. –  bib Sep 8 '13 at 19:44
    
If you are prepared to drill through the wall, then i would recommend just crimping the RJ-45 connectors after you have installed the cat6 cable. –  Hightower Sep 9 '13 at 17:38

2 Answers 2

Concrete walls typically have conduits where all wiring passes (edit: as pointed out by @alx9r, this might not always be the case. Sometimes wiring is cast directly into the concrete). This allows you to add additional wires to the same conduits, but doesn't help if you need to pass a wire between two places that don't have a conduit already in the wall.

Whether or not you can use the existing conduits is both a matter of convenience (are there existing conduits from and to the place you want to run the Ethernet cabling) and of wiring code - is it allowed to run Ethernet (low voltage) cabling along side other cables - high voltage (110/220 V), phone lines, TV coaxial cables, etc.

If there are no existing conduits you can use, you'd need to consider several options (all pictures from Google Images):

  1. Run the cable along the walls, often by the skirting boards. The cable can be attached with clips to the wall. This method is easiest, cheapest and fastest, but people often don't like cables running visibly around the house and if the cables aren't properly secured they might be a tripping hazard.

    Cable along the wall

  2. Run the cables in plastic channels that are attached to the walls. This is similar to number 1, only that the channels help hold the cable better and are probably more aesthetic.

    Cable channel

  3. Run new conduits in the wall. This is done by carving a channel in the wall (called "wall chasing"), placing a plastic conduit in the channel, mortaring the conduit in place and patching up the channel on top of the conduit. As can be imagined, this is hard work (especially for long distances), very dirty (especially if grinding disc cutters are used to score the channel) and must be done carefully to avoid hitting other cables and pipes already in the wall. However, this will give the best aesthetic result.

    Wall chasing

If a conduit is used, fishing the new cable through the conduit is done either using preexisting cables in the conduit or with a fish tape. The new cable is attached to the preexisting cable or the fist tape (after pushing the fish tape through the conduit to the other side) and then pulled until the new cable is fully in the conduit. From my experience, if you have cables already in the conduit, it is much easier to pull them completely out and then fish the entire bundle (old cable/cables together with new Ethernet cable) back into the conduit.

Finally, Cat6 doesn't give that much of a difference in the common house over Cat5e - the extra shielding is useful with lots of cables running close together and for long distances. For home use spans are usually much shorter than the maximum 100 meters defined for Ethernet and there are only a few cables running side by side. However, Cat6 is much stiffer than Cat5e, making it quite challenging to fish it through conduits.

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Hi, I think I want to avoid options 1 and 2, I'm definitely aiming for a really clean look, so having cables running alongside skirting or having trunking all over the house is not ideal for me. I'd have to see if there's existing conduits, I have no idea what the setup is in this house (moved in a few years ago), is there an easy way to check if there's existing conduits that I can use? –  Fayyaadh Sep 8 '13 at 10:03
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Existing conduits typically terminate at outlets - power, telephone, TV, etc. Tracing where exactly they are going is difficult. Some stud finders can locate power lines, but I'm not sure how reliable they are, or if they can find low power cables. –  Eli Iser Sep 8 '13 at 10:36
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@Fayyaadh You shouldn't run cat6 cables alongside power cables anyways, the interference will be too strong. I too would recommend the surface raceways (#2) - they actually look pretty clean. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 8 '13 at 18:02
    
"Concrete walls typically have conduits where all wiring passes." There is a lot of construction where electrical cables are cast into concrete without conduit. I think that statement is rather misleading. –  alx9r Sep 8 '13 at 18:37
    
@alx9r all the construction I've seen uses conduits, but I will amend my answer. Thank you. –  Eli Iser Sep 9 '13 at 4:39

I faced exactly the same problem, and solved it through a PowerLine Adapter system, based on 500mbs/1Gb Ethernet port powerline units, and heavy encryption - all centrally and remotely controlled. Home power meters are probably preventing packet hopping what additionnally prevents infiltration. This option is more expensive but much more comfortable and certainly the least intrusive.

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If you have multiple phases you need to bridge across them, which might add to the complexity of the solution. –  Eli Iser Sep 9 '13 at 11:28
    
In my opinion it's not really complicated (powerline phase coupler - if necessary)and has the ultimate advantage of covering the whole of the house circuitry providing full flexibility for future uses (e.g. a NAS somwhere in the basement) –  Wingman Sep 10 '13 at 9:12

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