How can I find the Time Warner Cable "cable" in my new house?
February 9, 2016 6:14 AM   Subscribe

The TWC guy just came to install my high speed internet, but he couldn't find the place in the wall to plug it in.

Just moved into condo (own). The condo was remodeled before my moving. There are a bunch of electrical outlets and "fake" outlets. (Fake light switches that I guess give the option to add more outlets or something. The guy removed a couple of the fake outlets to see what was behind them and he said they were electrical and not cable. there's one outlet I found that he didn't try and I removed the plate- but I have no idea what the TWC cable would look like anyway. I see a large black wire with a bunch of colored wires in it. I'm assuming this is electrical also?

The cable has to exist here somewhere because others in the building have it. THe remodeling maybe moved it or hid it somewhere- but I'm not sure what the thing would even look like behind the wall. I'd like to find it before setting up another appointment for installation.
posted by rancher to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Can you knock on a couple of neighbors' doors and see where theirs are?
posted by Rock Steady at 6:19 AM on February 9, 2016

This is something the building manager or property manager should be able to tell you (frankly TWC should know this too from their own records but they are generally pretty useless so whatever).

You should know how to contact the property management people anyway, because they're who you'd call if something more serious went wrong with your place (sewage backup, leaking pipes, etc.)
posted by Wretch729 at 6:19 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

That outlet is electrical. The cable is going be a single round wire about 3/8" thick.

To find it, I would suggest (a) contacting the complex management or condo association, or (b) checking with neighbors who have the same condo layout and asking where their cable outlet is. Look around the outside also; sometimes the cable is just tacked up along the siding and then goes into the wall (and probably straight through from that point). But then, if the cable appears to be buried in the wall, you don't want to start cutting into the wall to find it. Perhaps you could find out who the electrician was on the remodeling job and see if they know.
posted by beagle at 6:20 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I wanted to avoid property management coming in because quite frankly my place is an absolute mess; boxes and crap and dirt everywhere and no furniture. And that probably won't change for a few weeks. Unlike the cable guys the property management people are people I see frequently. I'll get over my embarrassment if I have to, but would like to avoid it if possible. Is it possible that when the previous owner remodeled he 'did' something to the cable? Due to the remodel my apt layout is different from my neighbors.
posted by rancher at 6:23 AM on February 9, 2016

Find out where Time Warner connected the cable -- generally, the cable goes from their connection, through a wall, and appears inside the house on the interior-side of that same wall. Cable companies generally don't run cable very far at all, and if they do it's surface-mounted (not hidden inside the walls). Also, check near your circuit breaker box; generally if anyone did internal wiring inside the walls, it comes to junction points near the rest of the building wiring.

(As for 'fake' light switches -- in many apartments the bottom outlet of an outlet pair is always-on, and the top is run by a nearby switch. )

Edit: Cable wire looks a lot like the cable wire you use to connect to the back of your tv/cable-box: about the diameter of a pencil, and the end has a central stiff copper wire, with a mesh copper 'shield' around the outside, so it looks like a single wire.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:30 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Look around the floors and walls of your living room. These traditionally were near the floor but as people started mounting TVs they put them higher. It is possible that there was a TV mounted to the wall and the previous owner covered the holes with drywall.
posted by k8t at 6:38 AM on February 9, 2016

Do you have an attic? If so, you might go up there and look for the cable that beagle mentions. If you see a cable like that, then follow it until you see it turn downwards into the wall. See if you can find a wall plate in that general area.

Walk around your condo, look for cables that look like the cable. It's possible you'll see one running on the outside of the building, and can guess where it goes. (It's possible this cable will be painted)
posted by gregr at 6:50 AM on February 9, 2016

Search for coaxial cable for images of what it would look like. Consider having your RE agent who sold you the house call the previous owner and ask. Also, ask TWC to just put in a new install. Let them go from the box on the street or in the complex to your place. Start again. My guess is that the previous owner had it running along the baseboard and did not have it in the walls so when they remodeled, they removed it and covered the hole from which it was coming out of. The way I would try to find the previous install would be to follow the wires from the outside.
posted by AugustWest at 7:12 AM on February 9, 2016

What sort of condo is this? Free-standing house type? Glorified apartment in a large building? Did the TW tech actually confirm that there's a cable drop coming into your condo?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:45 AM on February 9, 2016

Definitely get over your embarrassment about the boxes. You bought the place and can do what you want in there, the property manager doesn't care, they've seen worse, and they will totally understand you just haven't unpacked or decorated. The property manager will know precisely where your cable outlet is supposed to be and will be able to help you solve this mystery better than us.
posted by beagle at 7:46 AM on February 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Just google image search coaxial cable. It is a round plug with a little hole in the center.

I've let my place turn into an absolute mess when I knew it was a short-term stay and I had to move in a couple months - no furniture, completely gross, but I let management in because I had to. I suspect they have seen much much worse in terms of gross people. I couldn't live without internet, so personally I would just get over being embarrassed by it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:48 AM on February 9, 2016

If the previous owner sheetrocked over the cable outlets, you'll need a tone generator and a receiver to figure out where to cut a hole in the wall to find it. You open up the box on the side of the house where the cable wire is connected outside, inside of which you should find a splitter with 2 or more wires in addition to the drop from the cable company connected to it. Disconnect the "inside" wires in turn, connecting the alligator clips on the tone generator to the center conductor and the outside of the metal connector and turn it on. Then, after verifying the receiver "hears" the signal next to the generator, you go inside and listen for the tone inside the house. Once you find the wire, you trace it to the point where the signal stops and that's where the other end of that cable line is.

I'm surprised the TWC person didn't have the equipment to do this himself. If TWC refuses to do it, an electrician or low voltage wiring installer should be able to do it for relatively cheap.
posted by wierdo at 12:26 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

If no one who has lived in your specific unit has ever had cable, the answer to your question could be: no where.

Late last year, I was in a situation such as yours (recent remodel, other tenants had cable, couldn't find mine). Turns out that in the 90+ years my apartment had existed, no one had ever had cable. So, the TWC dude drilled a hole through an outside wall and put in a drop.
posted by sideshow at 4:01 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

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