I've seen some similar posts but not necessarily addressing my particular situation.

Our house has an unfinished basement , main floor, and second floor. We have our router set up next to our TV on the main floor. There are outlets covered by face plates that all have CAT 3 wiring in all of the bedrooms on the second floor.

I would like to wire CAT 5e for my second floor office. There is an existing plug in the perfect spot by my desk, but I would have to run the wire. I'm not sure exactly how this would work.

The router on the first floor does have a PVC pipe in the wall right beside which leads to the basement. I get that I could make use of that, but I'm not sure how the run would work from the basement to the second floor.

When I took the face plate off the office outlet, the CAT 3 wire looks like it is coming down from above, so I'm assuming it is in the attic.

How would one run the wire in this situation?

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    It varies. If you find a conduit (you are calling them pipe, perhaps someone even used pipe rather than proper conduit, which is gray) running from the basement to the attic, then you'd use that. If the conduit you have goes both up and down, but you've only noticed the down part, you'd use that in the up direction. Go look, nobody on the internet can see how your particular house was wired. If it was done with conduit, thank your deity of choice or the person who did that, living or dead. Otherwise it's either possible to follow the other wire paths without tearing things open, or it isn't. – Ecnerwal Mar 31 at 19:42
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    Ripping drywall is always an option, and sometimes the only one. If wires are coming from the attic, go in the attic and see where they come from. – Ecnerwal Mar 31 at 19:42
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    You may be able to pull Cat 5e cable from the office to the attic using the existing Cat 3 cable. Can you find the cable in the attic? If so, either tie the new cable to the old or tie a sturdy cord to the old cable and pull it up to the attic. If you used a cord you use it to pull the new cable up or down. Is there an open vertical space from the basement to the attic, e.g. alongside a plumbing drain/vent pipe? You may be able to fish a cable to the attic down to the basement alongside the pipe. Tip: If you always pull a cord alongside a cable then next time will be easier. – HABO Apr 1 at 2:35
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    Since you have Cat3, do you also have coaxial cable run throughout the house? There are devices that can use that cable for hardwired Ethernet. Search for moca Ethernet adapter. – Tim B Apr 1 at 2:55
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    @GeorgeAnderson I’m in the US, and had very good results with moca with both Comcast and now Verizon Fios, which is why I raised the alternative. – Tim B Apr 1 at 17:47

As others have said without seeing you house there is no way to answer this question exactly. Some techniques that might be useful.

  1. You have an unfinished basement (this is a great start as it allows you to move horizontally below the ground floor.

  2. You don't mention it but you probably have a loft space that allows you to move horizontally above the 2nd floor. When you find the right wall simply drill a hole in the top plate and drop a weighted string down and you can pull a cable.

  3. In terms of vertical runs look for where existing utilities already run the length of the house. Think air conditioning ducts, toilets, plumbing etc. I'm not suggesting you run in the ducts/pipe but there is often a space beside the duct/pipe you can use.

Something you fill find useful,

  • fish tape (ridged metal tape you can use to push/pull something at a distance)
  • weight and string (for dropping into cavities).

Ultimately it comes down to exploring the options in your house.


Have you considered WIFI? Does your main router have WIFI? If not, would you be willing to upgrade the router or add a WIFI router? You can then get a WIFI "dongle" for your office. A more sophisticated approach would be to get another WIFI capable router for your office and put it "bridge mode" with the other WIFI router. Then it looks like a hard wired connection to anything in your office that you attach to it (like a desktop PC, Printer, Scanner, etc.)

In setting up the Facebook live feed for my church (given CV19, not meeting in person), we determined it would be very difficult and/or unsightly to run cables where needed. It works GREAT! I didn't personally set it up, just proposed the concept and then let others with more technical expertise than me install it.

Of course, it all depends if you can get good signal between the desired locations, but from what you said, it sounds like potential alternative.

EDIT: YES, YES, I know this doesn't actually answer the question...just wanted to offer this as an alternate approach.

  • How do you take advantage of 800Mb and 200 microsecond latency? At home? What are you doing, if you don't mind the question, that exploits the performance? – jay613 Apr 1 at 11:26
  • @SteveSether It really depends upon the user's needs. I prefer hard wired myself and that's what I have in my home. But the church is on the historical register so we had limited options due to that as well as a very challenging architecture for running cables. For us, WIFI was a good option and works well. Running a hi-res FB live feed isn't exactly a light weight use either, but it has been working very well for us for at least 6 months. – George Anderson Apr 1 at 12:45
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    Wired is always better when it's an option. Sometimes (like @GeorgeAnderson's church) it's not, then WiFi is an excellent choice (amazing how good a choice is when it's the only one:D). Wired is not only faster, but more secure. – FreeMan Apr 1 at 14:41
  • I don't disagree with most of what has been said, but again, it depends upon the user's needs. A gamer or high frequency stock trader, WIFI might not be good enough. When my wife first got a ROKO streaming device and connected it using WIFI...and using Steve's language, "it sucked". Fortunately there was an ethernet port just behind the TV and I connected it to that. Worked much better. But for simple web site visits, email, chat, even online applications, WIFI is usually sufficient. Bridge mode is remarkably effective. – George Anderson Apr 1 at 15:37
  • one more thing: When I built my house 15 years ago, even then everybody was saying, "don't bother wiring it for ethernet, everything is going wireless" I'm very glad I didn't follow that advice! But I also have WIFI for laptops, phones(rather than using "data"), visitors, etc. I've never been able to install a new printer via WIFI....always had to plug it into the network. At work, WIFI printers were always problematic....we got to the point of making sure they were all connected to the wired network and even assigned hard IP addresses to them. – George Anderson Apr 1 at 15:45

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