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We just purchased a house and I want to run low-voltage cables (Cat6 + RG6) from the basement to the attic. I have a good route up a 10"x18" chase currently occupied by only a few water pipes, which leads to a second-floor utility closet from which I can run directly to the attic.

The problem is that getting up to the chase from the basement requires running the cables under the duct of a bathroom exhaust fan, and from the side of the wall where I currently have access, I don't think I'm going to be able to successfully pull the cables without inadvertently damaging them on a support bracket or ending up with too small a bend radius.

I can get access directly under the chase in order to pull the cables and ensure they clear the duct and have the proper bend radius, but such access from below will require cutting a hole in the ceiling at the back of a shower stall in a basement bathroom. Given the location, I have some concerns/questions:

1) Is this a really bad idea? Since I haven't cut it yet, I don't know yet what water/moisture-proofing measures are in place--my view from an inspection camera suggests there is nothing but drywall--but I don't want to create a world of pain for myself if making this hole is going to be hard to patch.

2) Since I would like the option to run additional cables in the future, I was thinking of putting an access panel in the ceiling rather than just patching the drywall. Are there products that would be appropriate for this environment, or is that asking for trouble as well and I would be better off cutting and patching drywall?

I hope I explained my situation clearly enough.

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Although there's many un-vented bathrooms, I believe that ALL should have a sufficiently sized fan to ventilate the moisture out after showers, etc. I run my own drywall repair business and I've seen hundreds of bathrooms with serious mold issues from NOT having a vent fan.

That said, fans are the only thing they normally do to circumvent moisture problems, other than using moisture resistant drywall, which is usually blue or green, and is only moisture resistant, not moisture proof. I've seen this fall apart and mold too. But you won't be disturbing any moisture proofing by cutting into the ceiling.

To repair it really depends on your skills and the size of the hole. Honestly, I've seen hundreds of attempts by amateurs and less than 1% done well. BUT, it's possible, with the right guidance and practice. Drywall repair is truly an art, but even an amateur can pull it off if you're willing to practice spreading mud on scrap rock, and in buying the right tools.

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I've used a circular access panel made for boats (water tight) in a ceiling above a shower. Works very well, doesn't let moisture in. The link is a textured one for boat decks, but The smooth (non-textured) look best.

Basically run clear caulk around the rim and in the screw holes. I framed some wood backing in there between the joists to mount the rim to. A few years on, all working well. I open it a few times a year as it's the access panel for a valve to an exterior faucet.

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A plastic access panel would do fine. Humidity isn't really a concern if you ventilate well, which you should anyway. You could use some thin foam tape to seal it if you like.

The key to a successful drywall repair is to use a good sealing primer before you paint. Most problems come from folks paining directly over drywall, and the moisture causes delamination over time.

There's usually no moisture barrier installed on ceilings.

  • Thanks. The ventilation is limited to the one small fan over the sink, with none in the shower, so I think the foam tape would be a smart move. – clang May 17 '17 at 22:58
  • It's as much about time as volume. A digital timer is a must in damp climates. 2 hours after showers is not too much, except maybe in the dead of winter in the north. – isherwood May 17 '17 at 23:10

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