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I'm wiring in an ethernet cable using an existing outlet in the wall. I've run the cable in the wall and through the floor. It's now sitting underneath my living room floor. The wire sits between two floor joists. I need to run the wire parallel to the floor joists. I have a basement that is half finished. The wire is currently sitting in the ceiling of the finished part of the basement. In the unfinished part, there is a opening between the joists that I have access to. If I run an inspection camera the length of the joists, I can see the able sitting there.

I need a way to grab the cable and pull it through. The wire of the inspection camera isn't sturdy enough. I'm hoping to do this without spending a ton of money and without making holes. This is just a small project.

Originally I was going to try and replace a coax cable by attaching the ethernet cable to it and pulling it through, but the coax cable ended up letting go of the ethernet cable (I don't want to talk about it.)

Here's some ascii art showing my situation:


Top view:

 ◄───── unfinished basement ────► ◄──────── finished basement ────────►

 ◄───────────────────────── floor joists ─────────────────────────────►

┌────────────────────────────────┬─────────────────────────────────────┐
│                                │                                 xxx │
│                           ┌──► │                       cable ──► xxx │
│                           │    │                                 xxx │
└───────────────────────────┼────┴─────────────────────────────────────┘
                            │
                            │     ◄────────────── 24 feet ────────────►
                            │
                            └─── I have access between the joists here
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  • You’ll most likely have to make holes. But if you have some pull rods, you might be able to hook the wires onto the rod and pull the wire through. But if you want to do that you should tape a loop in the end of the wire first so that you have something to grab on to. Mar 31, 2022 at 16:18
  • Unclear where you are trying to get the cable to. Pulling it back to the unfinished side, or pushing it somewhere else?
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 31, 2022 at 16:21
  • @Ecnerwal Pulling it back to the unfinished side.
    – Kyle
    Mar 31, 2022 at 16:29
  • 3
    Using the coax as a "pull string" is a great idea... until it decides not to work for whatever reason. Usually, without any sort of pull string, you'd put a fish tape into the hole in the wall, feed it through the hole in the sill plate, then it's stiff enough to push it through the floor until it's sticking out into the unfinished ceiling area. Strongly tape the new wire to it and pull it back up. While you're pulling this particular cable, it's not a bad idea to pull a "pull string" into the ceiling along with it, just in case you ever need to pull anything else through here.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 31, 2022 at 17:38
  • is the cable right below where you dropped it through the floor? ... do you have a direct line of sight from the unfinished basement to the cable?
    – jsotola
    Mar 31, 2022 at 18:04

2 Answers 2

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A fish rod (preferable) or fish tape (harder to manage - rods are more stable in open spaces) would be typical for this, assuming you are trying to pull the cable to the open side.

Grabbing the cable to pull it (since it's presumably not sitting there with a coil of slack if the coax pulled off of it) is going to be "a challenge" as people who dislike the word "problem" like to say.

You might be better served to pull the cable back, get a fish tape or thin fish rod in there, and then use the fish tape/rod to pull the cable in (from the open basement side.) Otherwise, I don't see much of a way to make this work without cutting a hole in the ceiling near the present end of the cable so that you can attach something to it properly (and since you'd have the hole, pull it through there.) Then patch the ceiling drywall. Or put in an access door.

IF you can push cable from the far end into the ceiling space (depends how close the far end is - i.e. can you remove the box and reach into the wall to push cable through the framing holes?) you might be able to hook the cable well enough for weakly pulling slack cable across the ceiling. Or perhaps you can manipulate a loop of string onto the cable end by watching the inspection camera and fiddling with a fish-rod carrying the loop to the cable end, then pull it tight. I'd expect that to be rather frustrating 24 feet out.

I guess there is a "standard way to use a loop at a distance" which is adaptable. Put a ring end on your fish rod, and poke a loop of small steel cable through it. Tape the steel cable to the rod (lightly) so you can get to the cable you want to hook, and use your inspection camera view to manipulate the steel cable loop over the ethernet cable. Then hold the rod and pull on the steel cable (overcoming the tape) until the loop clamps the ethernet cable tightly against the ring, and maintain tension while pulling the rod and steel cable back to you. Discard the end of the ethernet cable this has been done to, as it's likely to cause unacceptable bending to the wires in the cable where clamped.

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  • A fish rod is the tool I was looking for. I just ordered one. Unless someone else chimes in with some kind of magical answer, I'll accept your answer. Thank you.
    – Kyle
    Mar 31, 2022 at 16:41
  • Come back and tell us how it went!
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 31, 2022 at 16:42
  • Imagine most of the videos made using them took a lot of practice to it look easy. Wonder how many outtakes to get rid of the blue language?
    – crip659
    Mar 31, 2022 at 23:31
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    @Ecnerwal It worked! I got a fish rod with a hook attachment. I taped my inspection camera to it, and fished it through the opening. It wasn't easy and took several attempts, but I eventually pulled the cable all the way through. Thank you!
    – Kyle
    Apr 3, 2022 at 14:19
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Gather tools: string (mason's line works well), tape, inspection camera, fishing rods. Improvise as necessary based on tools available.

Tie a loop in the end of the string, then affix the string weakly to one of the fishing rods. We want to be able to pull the string away from the fishing rod easily. Use the rod to push the string through the wall and through the hole into the fishing space.

Attach a hook to the other fishing rod. Securely tape the inspection camera to the rod, positioned so that the hook is visible in the camera picture.

photo of tools

Feed the hook-ended fishing rod with the camera through the floor joist cavity (or whatever space you're fishing through). Using direct observation and the picture from the camera view guide the hook, grab the loop in the string, and pull it all back to you.

Use the string to pull in the desired cable. A light-gauge cable can often be pulled directly instead of pulling string first.

If "a picture is worth a thousand words," then what's the worth of an animated GIF answering an electrical question? ;-)

animation of fishing process

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  • This is very close to what I ended up doing, but my solution was based on Ecnerwal's answer, which is why I accepted it. Thank you very much for contributing an answer, too. I appreciate it. I gave your answer an up-vote. :)
    – Kyle
    Apr 3, 2022 at 14:21

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