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I Installed My Own Coax Cable to Move My Router to the Basement (and You Can Too)

Like in many houses, our cable modem had been running from a shelf in our living room for the past several years. That spot just happened to be the least intrusive spot for us to put it that was near a coax outlet. But the location wasn’t ideal. I wanted to move our cable modem and router to our basement mechanical room to get it out of the living room and to have more room for additional equipment near the router. But our basement didn’t have any coax outlets! I learned to run coax cable myself so I could move all our networking equipment to the basement. I’m glad I did, because I love the new setup and it wasn’t hard to do!

My router on a shelf in the basement

It’s really nice having our networking equipment in the basement mechanical room. It might not be a big deal to have a single modem/router combo on a shelf somewhere, but I’ve already added some equipment to my home network and I want to add more in the near future. I currently have a cable modem, a separate TP-Link wifi router, and a Pi-hole. And I’m planning to add a NAS. Having a dedicated space for all this networking equipment in the mechanical room in the basement is a big benefit because it gives me plenty of room to expand and keeps our living room looking nice.

I was a little intimidated by running coax cable myself for the first time, but it turned out to be very easy to do, and you don’t need many special tools. The hardest part for me was finding a good location for the cable. Ideally, you could run the cable through an attic or crawlspace to get where it needs to go. I didn’t have access to either of these from our basement mechanical room, so I chose to run the coax cable along the house exterior. This is a pretty common practice in the area where I live, and our house already had some exterior coax so it wasn’t a big deal for me to add another exterior cable.

Coax cable tools

Here are the tools and supplies I used:

I was fortunate that I didn’t have to drill directly through an exterior wall, but you might have to. If you do, there are several good YouTube videos that can teach you how to drill it and seal the hole properly. The rest is pretty easy. I used a cable clamp every several feet to hold the cable in place. I left a service loop (a few feet of extra cable) at both ends in case I need it later, and then I cut the cable and crimped a connector on both ends. I chose not to use a wall plate in my mechanical room – fewer connections along the cable mean less potential signal degradation.

Crimping coax cable

Learning to crimp the cable was also easier than I would have expected it to be. The coax cable stripper gets the cable stripped to exactly the right length, and then you just peel back the braid and crimp the compression connector. You can learn to crimp coax in 5 minutes on YouTube if you’ve never done it before.

I happened to have a free port on an existing splitter near my exterior cable box, so I just connected my new cable to that. If you don’t have any free ports, you’d need to either disconnect an existing cable or get a bigger splitter to add your new connection.

I wanted to make sure my new coax cable didn’t have any signal problems and was at least as fast asmy existing setup, so I ran a speed test with my cable modem plugged directly into my laptop (to eliminate wifi slowdown) on my old and new cables. My new cable showed nearly identical speeds to my old one, confirming that there weren’t any problems losing signal along the new cable. Hooray!

Installing my own coax cable was a great experience that turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. While this blog post isn’t a step-by-step guide to installing your own coax cable, I hope it can be an encouragement to you if you’re thinking about it. There should be enough information here to give you a good overview of the process, and you should be able to fill in any missing details with some YouTube videos as long as your comfortable with some basic handyman skills around the house.


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About the Author

Mike Kasberg

👋 Hi, I'm Mike! I'm a husband, I'm a father, and I'm a senior software engineer at Strava. I use Ubuntu Linux daily at work and at home. And I enjoy writing about Linux, open source, programming, tech, and other random topics.