Maybe we need to upgrade the installer too?
August 20, 2013 3:35 PM   Subscribe

The house we bought years ago came with an existing home theater system, speakers wired into the walls, TV installed above the fireplace, components tucked away in a cabinet, all cables hidden away in the walls. It has been pretty awesome, but some of the components have started to fail. We bought a new TV, and the installer is talking about having to open up the wall to run the new HDMI cable alongside the existing cable that is already running through the wall from the TV to the component cabinet a few feet away. We really don't want to cut the wall open if we don't need to, and it seems to us that it should be feasible to use the existing wiring to pull through a new HDMI cable. Are we wrong?

I should add that the existing system was pretty state of the art when it was installed, with a great deal of attention to detail. I'd be surprised if the original installer didn't anticipate eventual upgrades, if that would change how wires were run. But we're not the experts, so we're just not sure if this is standard procedure or maybe this isn't the installer for us.
posted by ambrosia to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
We recently re-wired a good portion of our house, and managed to do a whole lot of it by tying strings to our existing Knob & Tube wiring, pulling that out, and then pulling the new Romex in by those strings.

We had to open the wall up in a few places, where the wire run through the K&T was run through internal bracing in such a way that we couldn't pull it clear of the knobs, but chances are really good that low voltage signal wiring wasn't ever secured in that same way.

So, yeah: If you're going to get rid of the old wiring, I'd totally try taking off the box covers, releasing any in-box clamps, tying a string to it and pulling it out. The worst that happens is that you break it off and end up having to open up the wall, but that's where you are right now.
posted by straw at 3:39 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I guess you can't find any doco or stickers or badges or labels floating around with the name and phone number of the original installer on them? I dunno if there would be like a "control box" or something, but if you had a scratch about you might find a "Proudly installed by Bob's Home Theater Installations" or something that could lead you back to the source?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:56 PM on August 20, 2013

Best answer: In a good quality installation there is a fair chance the existing cables are zip tied in place in the wall. You lose nothing in trying to use them as draw wires but I wouldn't have any great hopes of success of I was you.
posted by deadwax at 4:05 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Unlike tube and post wiring where the wire is strung through the tubes and is free to move your current tv cabling is very likely to be stapled or tied to the wall framing in at least one place.

While you have the wall open it would be a good idea to run a conduit from your tv location to your receiver location there by negating the need to ever open the wall again.
posted by Mitheral at 4:26 PM on August 20, 2013

Response by poster: Is there any way to tell if a conduit might have already been run without cutting open the wall?
posted by ambrosia at 5:50 PM on August 20, 2013

Is there any way to tell if a conduit might have already been run without cutting open the wall?
If you take the faceplate off one of the boxes where the wiring terminates (and maybe also pull the device), you should be able to see conduit terminated into the side of the backbox. If you just see wiring sticking through a knockout in the box, there is probably no conduit in the walls.
posted by misterbrandt at 8:31 AM on August 21, 2013

Response by poster: deadwax and Mitheral nailed it- there is now a gaping hole in the wall, revealing both zip-ties and staples, so that's that. Thanks everyone!
posted by ambrosia at 10:40 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older What guitar is this?   |   How do I grad school: management skills edition Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.