Fishing wires for security system

When I wired my house I completely forgot about a security system and underwired but that is the norm.

So I have access to my crawlspace and attic and I'm going to have to fish some wires through the walls, etc, is there a web site or a tutorial some where it lists helpful hints, how to's, etc?

same boat. Have you looked at wireless? The equipment is more expensive than wired contacts, but you'll save a ton of time. Depending on how valuable your time is, you might forego any wiring. NOTE: not every contact/sensor has to be wireless. One option might be to install wired smokes, occupancy sensors, glass-breaks, etc in the floor or ceiling where its easy to get to, and install wireless door/window contacts.

If you go with an ELK, also, consider distributing your input expanders to reduce the amount of fishing.
Take a look at:

The Training Department - I took a retrofit class from the Author of this series and found the information very helpful.

Also, Labor Saving Devices had put out some good videos but I can't find them now.

EDIT: Found the LSD video HERE.
Two cautions on wireless... reliability and "install-and-forget".

I hardwired everything I possibly could, and needed wireless for 3 windows. Those 3 windows have been the biggest pain in my @#$%... more work than the rest of my house combined. I believe the transmitters are right on the fringe of good reception, so they work most of the time, but not everytime, etc. I'm rewiring where the receiver is located to get a better signal... but it's been a pain.

Second item - remember these need batteries every few years. Not a big deal with 3 or 4... PITA when you have 40+.

Retrofit wiring is a challenge and takes a lot of time, but I LOVE when I'm done, and it works, and I never have to touch them again! Good luck!

<edit: just checked out that video - looks awesome and would have been a great timesaver for me! Price isn't cheap though, but probably would have been worth it in time saved! >
There are five foot, flexible drill bits available so that you can drill down to a crawl space or basement or up to attics from windows and doors. I use them alot when installing systems.
Just another option that occured to me.

I took another look at the Training Department web site and they also have the Retrofit Video available for iPod and it's $100 less at $149. Even if you don't have an iPod, you could watch it using iTunes which is of course a free program.

Also, if you get stuck on something, post a picture on Cocoontech. There are a ton of people here with retrofit experience and would like to help.

Good Luck,


Edit: Found an even more economical solution for $39 here.
When I was retrofitting my house I had to get very creative to get wires where they needed to get.

Remove trim and make any holes behind the trim where you can. Replace the trim and touch up with some caulk and paint. (Use a razor knife to cut the caulk from the wall surface first, this will prevent the paper face from pulling off. This solves the issue of repairing drywall.

Try to run any wire from the basement to the attic in walls that run perpendicular to the floor joists. The studs should be in direct bearing over the floor joist. Locate the 2 studs on either side of where you want to run your wire. Use a 1/8" drill bit and drill through the floor next to the trim and through the ceiling. ( be careful not to get the carpet fibers wrapped around the drill bit) Get a wire coat hanger and shove it through the holes.(this makes it easier to find the holes in both locations.

In the attic you will be able to see the top plate of the wall.(pull back the insulation) Drill a 3/4" hole in the center of the plate, go to the basement do the same thing, except here you will not be able to see the bottom plate. If you look carefully you may be able to see the sets of nails where the bottom plate was nailed to the sub-floor. Drill between them.

Back in the attic use some string with a fishing weight tied to the end of it, drop it into the hole.(before you take your string to the attic measure and mark 8' or 9' on the string that way when you drop it ijnto the hole you know it you have hit bottom or not)

In the basement take a long drill bit attach a long zip tie to the end pluu it as tight as you can. Shove it into the hole as far as you can. Spin the drill bit as you move it in a circular motion in the hole. Imagine trying to touch all of the interior surfaces of the wall. If you pull the drill bit out the string should be wrapped around the bit and zip tie. Attach your wire, go back to the attic and pull away.
This can aslo work for running sensors that wall mount. Make a hole big enough for the weight drop in the weight use the drill with zip tie to catch the string.

I used about every trick in the books to get my house done. If you need more help just ask.

One last hint, Try to stay away from exterior walls the insulation complicates things a whole lot more.
I have installed a 12 zone audio system in a two story house built (all but two rooms) on a slab. I can truly get a wire any where if it is humanly possible. Hard wired systems will alway have the edge on wireless systems due to range and maintenance issues. Its not that hard to do if you have the following:

18" drill bits

6' drill bits

file to sharpen them (and ability)

glow sticks 6'

Grabbit pole 18'

small Gage wire coat hanger

knowledge of house construction and the knowledge of where the tip of a 6' bit is when 5' is buried in the wall.

and 25 years of drilling through or missing the wires, water pipes, drains, roofs, insulation, sofas, ming dynasty vases, Sheetrock (the side you were trying to miss) ...You get the idea.

Quick tip: If you need to drill a hole through the floor at the base or shoe molding to locate a wall to drill up into. Get a piece of the wire used to hold up insulation in a crawl space. Its 16" long and when chucked in a drill you can drill it through the floor at edge of the room. It is long enough to be seen and keeps the chuck of the drill from scrubbing the wall. Have fun!
I read recently that a ball-chain (you know, like the pull chain on an old hanging light socket) is an excellent way to fish top-down through walls where holes through blocking may not line up well enough for a plumb-bob-style line. The gist is that when you drop the ball-chain into a space, it will curl around and spread out and with a little movement, eventually find the hole and fall through.

My take on it is that since the ball-chains can be made of ferrous metal, you can also use a magnetic parts retriever (or similar) to meet halfway, retreive it horizontally, etc.

Excellent info: