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CAT 5 Cable Installation Precautions

[Q] What are some precautions to take when installing CAT 5 Cable?

[A] Without question, the first and most important precaution would be the selection of the actual cable itself. There are a ton of cheap brands of cable on the market, and an uneducated salesperson would be quick to tell you that all cable is the same. Even the big retail electronic stores will carry cheap cable in fancy packaging that is not worth buying, so choose wisely

The next thing to consider is the location where you will be running the cable. There are some obvious warnings to cover here, so Let's name a few places NOT to run your cable:

  • On or along the floor in a manner that will leave the cable exposed to foot traffic or wheels rolling over it.
  • Behind any "permanent" fixture, preventing access to the cable in the event it requires upgrading or repair in the future.
  • In close proximity to electrical conduit or other high-voltage electrical sources. This is not only a performance issue, by a major safety consideration for any install. A general rule of thumb calls for at least 18 inches of separation between electrical and data lines, but you will need to check local codes and other applicable regulations.
  • Any area that is likely to see temperatures lower than -4 degrees fahrenheit, or higher than 150 degrees fahrenheit. These refer to sustained temperatures, not a single occurrence. Most of the high-quality CAT 5 material will operate within the temperature range previously mentioned.
  • Any location that will violate local, state, or federal regulations regarding the installation of cable in your specific situation, or otherwise be considered unsafe or illegal for any reason. An example of this would be running a cable from your house over to a neighboring residence so that they can share your high-speed Internet connection through a router. In many cases, this is illegal because the DSL or Cable service is sold to a specific client at a single residence. Use common sense on this one.

Last, a few things to consider during the actual install:

  • Mark junction box locations carefully, and do not drop the cable into the desired location until after the hole is cut. You can damage the cable otherwise.
  • When pulling cable through drop-in ceilings, you must be sure to prevent the cable from scraping along sharp edges. To prevent this, you should have a partner help guide the cable from the roll or spool, keeping it clear of the ceiling framework at all times. If you are forced to do this work alone, there are commercially available "edge-guards" that you can place over the edges of ceiling framework to protect the cable as it passes over it. These will usually have some type of roller system to allow for smooth cable movement without snagging.
  • Plan ahead. Look at the installation location and try to imagine changes in the future. Make sure that you allow for movement of furniture, installation of new equipment or appliances, and of course, expansion of the network.
  • Take your time. Every rushed install will most likely have something wrong with it. Get it right the first time.

RELATED FAQ QUESTION: What is the maximum length for CAT 5 Cat 5e Cable?

Keywords: Cat 5, Cat 5e, ethernet, RJ45, patch cable, crossover cable

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