I'm a new homeowner, having recently moved into a 1920's house. I'd like to run Ethernet conduits throughout the house. The basement runs the full length of the house and its ceiling already hosts electrical and plumbing infrastructure. I should be able to go straight up from there without having to drill horizontally through any studs. I'm relatively well read on pulling and terminating the cables themselves and don't think I need any advice there.

My current plan is for one conduit to run up from the basement to a wiring closet / server room for the connection to the ISP, and then several conduits down from there and into each of the rooms I want to connect.

I'm looking for recommendations for these parts of the process:

  • What materials and parts (i.e. junction boxes, wall panels) to use for this process
  • How to lay out the conduits
  • How to secure the conduits to the inside of my walls and the basement ceiling
  • What tools I'll need for all of this
  • Where to keep service loops, since I don't think a standard wall receptacle will allow compliant turn radii for solid core cabling.
  • Anything else major that I may not know I don't know!
  • 3
    Why conduit and not just run the cat5/cat6 Ethernet cable bare without protection? Unless you anticipate needing to pull new cable on a regular basis, there is no need (in my opinion) to run Ethernet within conduit unless it's for physical protection. Unless you want it to look nice, zip tie or velcro tie the Ethernet runs to existing infrastructure and be done with it. If you feel the need to run conduit anyway, I suggest using ENT (aka smurf tube) due to its flexibility and ease of pulling cable within it. Inside walls, no need to secure to vertical studs if walls are already closed up.
    – Milwrdfan
    Sep 26 at 20:46
  • In regards to your topology, assuming your incoming ISP line is in the basement - run one incoming line from the ISP to your interface location/firewall upstairs, then just one one back down, and put a dumb network switch in the basement to distribute there. Lots less cable and work than trying to bring multiple cables down, just to distribute through basement rooms. Or just have your network interface and firewall in the basement, and run one cable upstairs to then distribute via network switch upstairs. Only you know exactly what you have, so the specific topology is up to you.
    – Milwrdfan
    Sep 26 at 20:51
  • 2
    Final comment, if you aren't trying to squeeze max performance, then going with a WiFi solution might be the most cost-effective and easiest to just have an access point centrally located (or depending on physical arrangement, a couple, one up and one down), and not do wired distribution at all.
    – Milwrdfan
    Sep 26 at 20:53
  • 2
    @Milwrdfan Wired is better than WiFi in so many ways. WiFi is inevitable these days for smart phones and many other devices, but in an open basement you do wired where you can. Sep 26 at 22:22
  • 2
    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact, I agree that wired is superior (which is what I have in my house for all non mobile device connections), but without knowing the specific needs of the OP, I wanted to make sure that a WiFi option was at least considered (if even later dismissed due to other requirements/desires).
    – Milwrdfan
    Sep 27 at 2:40

2 Answers 2


One more important point: Even with a high-quality tool made for the purpose, getting a good connection from wire to a crimp-on RJ45 plug can be difficult to achieve by hand. It is much simpler to use punch-down connections. For home use that usually means using a punch-down jack on both ends of the wire, and then connecting to the switch or router using a short commercially-made Cat5 or Cat6 jumper cable.

You can get panels that hold a row of punchdown-attached jacks neatly and manage the cable coming into them. But since I wasn't concerned about making it pretty or packing a huge number of connections into my network corner, I just used cheap 2-jack baseboard housings, lining them up on a convenient board and labelling them to keep things vaguely organized.

  • 3
    4, 6 & 12 (at least) versions of the same "surface mount" housings are also made, though if you have 12 to do, a 12-port patch panel may cost less than 12 jacks and housings for them. And, professionally or commercially we always terminate to jacks or patch panels - it's more reliable. I hardly use my crimper.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 27 at 0:11
  • 2
    I know one person who voluntarily uses crimp-on plugs. Only one.
    – keshlam
    Sep 27 at 0:31
  • 4
    I have the tools for punchdown jacks. Planning on terminating them in a wall panel and using patch cables from there to my rack. Seems a little nicer than hanging wires for eventual resale value of the home (hoping to live here for at least a decade though.)
    – Mystagogue
    Sep 27 at 1:51
  • 1
    If you know what you're doing, you can punch-down using a thin flat-head screw driver, but it's of course riskier and sometimes you just don't have the working space to do that.
    – Nelson
    Sep 27 at 6:19
  • 1
    Crimp-on plugs for solid-core cable, and ordinary hand tools, don't belong together. To get a reliable crimp you need a special plug for solid-core cable and a lot of pressure, generated by a hydraulic tool which is NOT CHEAP!
    – nigel222
    Sep 27 at 9:21

Service loops would most conveniently live in the wiring closet, or else somewhere in the basement.

ENT (smurf tube) is a relatively good choice of conduit type for ease of installation. If you want to get fancy and waste money you could try to track down orange, but blue works just fine and can be had at most home centers off-the-shelf. If you have greater than average concern for rodent teeth, FMC works otherwise similarly for greater cost. EMT also works well, but takes a bit more tooling and learning to install correctly. Hardware is the same as using the conduits for normal electrical use, other than the option existing to use low-voltage rings rather than junction boxes. But you can use junction boxes if you'd prefer to.

If you want to run multiple conduits with assigned directions, you can. Stock pro approach is run one big conduit where you have things going up and down to one location, and then break that out to individual conduits where they are going different places (in a suitable junction box, or not, depending on how much you want your LV conduits which don't need junction boxes all buttoned up where going between different conduits. Again, rodents may influence this choice.)

If your "wiring closet/server room" has aspirations, the cables would just come out of a LV pass through plate, spin around for a service loop Velcro-ed® to the wall or on the top or bottom of the rack, and then be terminated into a rack mount patch panel in your rack. If it's more pedestrian a 12-port keystone wall-plate in a 2-gang box or LV ring will do. If you want to hide your service loops you can put them between the studs and use a 2-gang LV ring, rather than a 2-gang box (LV cables don't require an actual box.)

At the other end, 2, 4, or 6 port keystone plates on 1-gang boxes or LV rings are normal. You can blank any unused keystones.

  • One big conduit between the server closet and basement seems like a great idea. I was leaning towards solid PVC or similar over smurf tube since it'll be exposed on the ceiling of the basement. I think smurf tube for what's in the walls seems reasonable, assuming there's a good way to join the two types of tubing.
    – Mystagogue
    Sep 27 at 1:47
  • If you're really going straight up, sticking with PVC should not be hard. Most of the effort ENT would save by being bendy you'll be spending to have PVC across the basement ceiling. Oh, another thing - label the cables at both ends, in some nice unambiguous (but short) manner. A, B, C..., or 1, 2, 3..., or A1, A2, A3...
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 27 at 2:04
  • Yep, definitely going to label stuff. I should point out again that I am not looking for advice regarding running the cable, purely on installing the conduit and necessary panels.
    – Mystagogue
    Sep 27 at 2:08

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