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How To Run Cable Wires Through A Wall? Follow These Safety Tips!

Have you ever wondered about the safety and logistics of running cables through your home’s walls? Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just curious about the process, understanding the right way to do it is crucial.

Use a stud finder to identify wall structures and a flexible drill bit for insulated walls. Avoid running cables near electrical lines and use fish tape for routing. Ensure compliance with safety standards, particularly avoiding the use of in-wall power cables for permanent electrical fixtures.

This guide helps you explore running cable through walls while ensuring electrical wiring safety. We will cover key aspects like dealing with insulation, fireblocks, and compliance with electrical codes.

Key Takeaways

  • Safety of Running Cables: Avoid in-wall power cables for safety and code compliance. Use appropriate tools like a stud finder for locating structures and a flexible drill bit for insulated walls.

  • Dealing with Wall Structures and Insulation: Navigate fireblocks using a flex bit or by cutting and patching drywall. Ensure minimal disruption to the insulation using fish tape or rods.

  • What to Avoid: Keep cables away from electrical lines and light fixtures to prevent interference and hazards. Avoid using damaged or inferior-quality cables.

How To Safely Run Cables Through A Wall

Power Bridge with HDMI cables running through

There are some important things to remember when you want to safely run cables through a wall. You may want to just go for it! Cut two holes in your wall then feed the wire between them.

But let’s be smart and have a solid plan before doing anything.

  1. Know what is behind the wall before you run cables.
  2. Avoid running power cables inside walls!
  3. Avoid running cables next to electrical lines.
  4. You can run low-voltage and other cables in bundles.
  5. Inspect your cables before you run them.

Know What’s Behind the Wall Before You Run Cables

Man using a stud finder to mark studs on a wall

The starting step of running wires in your wall is figuring out what’s behind it. Even though some DIY enthusiasts suggest the method of tapping the wall, it’s fairly inconsistent unless you have a trained ear.

Get yourself a decent stud finder (on Amazon), it will be useful to safely run cables as well as for future projects. If you want a really nice stud finder, check out the ProSensor 710 (on Amazon).

Use the stud finder in the area where you plan to run your cables. Note the distance between the studs, and any other out-of-the-ordinary readings. These random readings might be a small pipe, electrical wire, or maybe a misreading from the stud finder, depending on the type of wall and where it is located in the house.

Are there any studs running horizontally across the wall? These are called fireblocks. If encountering a fire block, a bevel cut with a flex bit is the easiest way to drill through it. This is recommended if the bottom access hole isn’t too close to the ground.

You might also cut holes in walls directly over the fire block, drill through, run cable, and then patch it up, a great way to hide wires. Both methods work very well, but cutting the drywall is definitely more work because you will need to mud the wall, and sand, and then repaint the area.

For insulated walls, using a flexible drill bit is the most efficient tool for creating a pathway with minimal disruption. Guide cables through using fish tape or rods, ensuring the insulation stays intact to maintain thermal efficiency.

Avoid Running Power Cables Inside Walls!

Power Bridge in wall cable management and power system

It is strongly suggested to avoid running power cables through any walls. This refers specifically to power cables for televisions, receivers, etc., not actual electrical wires (Romax).

Wiring installation safety regulations vary, allowing homeowners to work in some regions while mandating licensed electricians in others. (Source) It’s actually against Article 400.8 in the NEC (National Electrical Code). You should not run power cables through a wall as a substitute for permanent wiring, ie wired outlets.

It can be done, but if a fire results from this, then the insurance company may find a reason not to cover the damages. If you want to run cables safely, and you need to get power to your television or other devices but need an outlet.

Then hire an electrician to professionally install a new outlet. Or you can use a simple device called a Power Bridge (on Amazon) to install a semi-permanent outlet yourself (it coincides with NEC regulations and is safe to use).

Or if you know what you are doing, install a real outlet yourself. Yes, it is a little more work, but it will be a much better method to safely run cables while still following the NEC regulations.

Avoid Running Cables Next to Electrical Lines

Low-voltage cables and electrical lines should not be close to each other. It can cause interference in the signals being sent to the electronics connected.

Any uninsulated contact between an electrical wire and a low-voltage cable can cause serious damage to the equipment or even a fire! It is suggested that you maintain at least 6 inches between electrical and low-voltage wiring.

However, most cables are shielded pretty well now, so an inch or so will probably be perfectly fine. Remember this also applies to light fixtures.

If you are running speaker wire to in-ceiling speakers, then make sure the wiring is an acceptable distance from the lighting fixture. Some lighting fixtures will produce a lot of EMI (electromagnetic interference) which can also cause issues with low-voltage cabling.

You Can Safely Run Low Voltage and Other Cables in Bundles

You can bundle different types of cables, such as HDMI, Starlink, coaxial, Ethernet, camera, and speaker wires together when running them through walls. We have related articles on running speaker wires from inside to outside, as well as outside underground. As long as the cables are well insulated, there should be no interference between any of the signals.

Make sure you are using high-quality cables. If they are cheap cables, then you could run into problems with interference and other issues in the future.

Go ahead and spend a little extra on those cables to make sure you don’t have any issues in the future.

Inspect and Test Your Cables Before You Run Them

Don’t even think about running ragged and torn wires. Simply ensure the cables are in good condition before you run them through the wall. No cuts, tears, etc. Use clean, good-quality cables, and you should not have anything to worry about!

It’s also a great idea to test the cables before running them through the wall to ensure they work. This will give you the peace of mind that once you get the cables through the wall, you won’t have to pull a cable out because it’s not working.

Related Questions

Is it safe to run cables through a wall? It is perfectly safe to run most cables through a wall! The only cable you absolutely should not run through a wall is a standard power cable that plugs into an outlet.

Can you rewire a house without removing drywall? It is possible to rewire a house without removing drywall. It calls for using existing outlets and switches as access points and special tools like flexible drill bits for threading wires. It’s also important to note that it’s necessary to connect using the right tools and techniques.

Running Wire for TV and Devices – Use a Power Bridge or hire an electrician for TV power solutions. Bundle low-voltage cables like HDMI and Ethernet together, ensuring quality and insulation.

Fred Overdorf

Tuesday 3rd of March 2020

I just want to run an extension cord (4”) straight through my clothes closet wall to get a 15 watt fluorescent light in there. Is that OK ?

Jonah Matthes

Tuesday 3rd of March 2020

Hi Fred,

If it is a standard outlet extension cable then this is technically a fire code violation. You can do it, but I wouldn't suggest it. Extension cables should never run behind or through a wall, period.