View Full Version : Cat 5 Spaghetti Soup - Help!!

01-11-2009, 10:25 AM
OK, I moved into this house a couple of years ago. Upon inspecting the attic I was pleased to see what looked like Cat 5 wires running all throughout the attic. Finally, I decided that its a good time to hook up some internet to these bad boys. I will post pictures and ask for advice.

You can see the spaghetti that is the mix of wire in the attic in one photo. I took my wall plates down in my office to see how they were wired and it looks as if whoever wired the house for phone used what I only assume is Cat 5 cable (house built in 1998).

1) Can I use these lines to install an access point?
2) As it gets super hot in that attic during the summer, is it a good idea to put equipment such as modems and routers in the attic?

I have wireless but it often fails in the far reaches of the house.

01-11-2009, 10:38 AM
http://www.pcmobilehelp.com/support/images/Inserted.jpg (http://www.pcmobilehelp.com/support/cat5WiringDiagram.htm)

One of my customers has a real nice page on Cat Five wiring
PC Mobile Help

01-11-2009, 11:16 AM
I used to do all my own wiring in IT jobs years ago
2 methods - make the existing wire long patch cords
Or install wall jacks (punch down), & then use patch cords to plug in what you need


Only 4 wires are used (10/100), so you could run the ethernet & phone on the same cable. Most people do not do this as you can have interference. If you ever need gigabit it needs all 8 wires

Myself I would not install equipment in an attic that can get that hot
My router is in the basement, I have patch cords that run up to the 1st floor. I haven't wired the 2nd floor yet

01-11-2009, 01:00 PM
Thanks for the quick replies. Considering that the attic may be to hot to place a modem or router, I may have to re-think my entire project. I can't see any other way of getting the house wired outside the attic. Well, I guess I could re-run all wires but that seems insane.

01-11-2009, 03:08 PM
Do those wires even work with all those knots? :rolleyes:

01-11-2009, 03:31 PM
You could connect the wires together in the attic
Then make runs to the basement or a 2nd fl closet?
If possible home runs are better to where you want them

Yeah, not supposed to tie up wire like that :)

What about a 2nd wireless access point to divide the house up?
Or only wire the area(s) with poor signal

01-11-2009, 05:25 PM
That wiring job probably done by the home owner who didn't have a clue. If you have to splice those wires to, go to HD and get the Ideal connectors that are made to do that with IDC. They use a method to connect the wires without stripping, and are filled with a gel to waterproof the connection. I put in Cat5 for a living, IMHO cat5 should never be spliced, but in a residence (after the fact) ya gotta do what you gotta do. One thought, what about a wireless repeater? I have a Linksys WAP54G and i think it can be used to extend a wireless network. If that works then you could put a new AP near the area the signal fades and be able to pickup the rest of the house. Just a thought.

01-12-2009, 05:18 AM
A second Access point or a repeater just might be the key. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each. The repeater seems to be the simpler solution. What wiring is required for a second access point?

01-13-2009, 07:20 AM
Was the knot to slow down the transfer speed? Ideally the wire should be as short and straight as possible.

01-13-2009, 04:23 PM
I once worked with a guy who claimed (he said he could prove it, I think he was full of it) that 7 (seven ) and only that many knots tied in a length of wire would stop a bolt of lightning! Maybe the original installer was going for that ? :)

01-15-2009, 07:06 PM
I wouldn't put the equipment in the attic even if it were nicely conditioned - unless you have ready access. If you have to check the proper functioning, you want to see the LEDs and, if my network is anything to go by, occasional resets are required or diagnosis is needed if the internet drops (is it me or the telco etc).

I have a WAP54G wireless router and a Linksys range extender. It drops everyday (about 8pm whether it is EDT or EST - who knows why) and even a trip over to the office above the garage is a pain. Go up into the attic? No thanks!

BTW, that photo of the blue Cat 5 wrapped around and around is amazing - perhaps he didn't want to waste it. Or maybe it's some kind of lashing to provide support to the attic's framing.

01-16-2009, 05:13 PM
I would suggest cutting off the excess wire in the attic. Get back to before the hideous bends, knots, crimped edges, etc. Cat 5 (and all other high frequency cables) have a minimum turn radius required to protect performance. That first picture of the cat cable violates most any standard or specification above string and fruit juice cans (kitten 0.2).

The wire from a cat cable must have a limited amount of untwisted wire at the termination. To paraphrase something, "It's the twist stupid". Appears to have been ignored in the photo. Specs are quite clear. If the wire gauge was a bunch larger you could use the wire for low power lighting.

If you can get back to unmutilated cable, put properly installed connectors on and run wire downstairs somewhere using appropriately installed connectors of the opposite sex. Take these new wires to a switcher/router for proper distribution.

Based on the work shown, I would be seriously concerned about the treatment of the wires you can't see. New wires are what I would try if it was feasible. Wireless with sufficient relay or range extending devices would probably be a better move. They guy simply had no idea that he was doing.

Engage in sufficient research to find and cause pain to the idiot that did this.

01-31-2009, 09:46 PM
1) Can I use these lines to install an access point?
2) As it gets super hot in that attic during the summer, is it a good idea to put equipment such as modems and routers in the attic?

I have wireless but it often fails in the far reaches of the house.
From the pictures it looks like you have three phone lines in the house. The pictures show phone jacks wired with the green, orange, and blue pairs. Whoever installed that wire was just using each pair for a different phone line. The rules for phone lines are much more relaxed than if you really need cat 5 standard for computer networking. Unless you plan to stop using your phone jacks or run another cable alongside wherever that one goes, you do not have enough extra pairs to also put an access point or networking on the same cable.

Which standard is your current wireless networking? I just now installed Wireless-N (802.11n draft standard) networking in my house with a Netgear router/access point and D-Link USB adapters for the computers. The range and bandwidth are so much better than the 802.11g wireless that still comes standard on most notebooks and devices with built-in wireless. The router is on a high shelf on the kitchen wall near the ceiling in the center of the first floor. I am right now getting 270Mbps through a wall to the next room even with a microwave running in between.