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  • #2192464

    Cat5 Wiring Problem


    by egray ·

    I recently wired my house in North Florida with riser-rated cat5 cabling. The cable was pulled through the walls, across the attic, to an 8-port switch in an unfinished bonus room above my garage.

    Everything works fine during the warm months, but when the overnight temperature drops near freezing, everything seems to stop working (yes, it does get a little cold in North Florida). Basically, it works during the day, but stops working at night. The switch is your typical home networking type (i.e. cheap), but I’ve also tried it with an old 24-port HP AdvanceStack 10base-T hub I had laying around at the office, but the problem persists.

    Any ideas?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3096699

      Thats Weird.

      by baketown83 ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      I thought that equipment runs better when its cool. But then again you did say near freezing. I will ask a few of my contacts and see what they say.

    • #3092879

      Check those cables again

      by mjd420nova ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      The cable lengths will shorten in the cold.
      connectors become intermittent. check if
      the switch is still working in the cold.
      Check the power supply to see if it has
      quit if it’s powered.

    • #3092788

      Continuity, Continuity,….

      by overcharge ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      Best way to solve the problem is a $30-100 continuity checker. Sounds like you have a break and the expansion of the wire during the day is giving you contact and opening it at night when the cold contracts the wire.

      If you had any hard pulls, or kinks, I’d be looking there.

    • #3092649

      Could it be moisture related?

      by choppit ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem


    • #3107223

      Check your lights

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      if your cable run goes by floresents that would only be on at night, this could cause issues.

      Can you ping at night time?

      Total loss or just drops some?

      You don’t have any splices do you?

      have you taken a cable tester to the lines?

      unless it is electrical at one end or another, it would have to be moisture. Electricity actually travels FASTER when it is cold, so the freezing shouldn’t bother this, unless they are exposed to the elements. lines outside are in conduct? conducts are dry?

      • #3107182

        Sounds more like a condensation problem

        by sleepin’dawg ·

        In reply to Check your lights

        This could be alleviated by proper ventilation of the space. Rather than conduct, I think you meant to say contact. Make sure all contacts are clean and there are no shorts across contacts caused by condensation. The space needs either proper insulation and/or ventilation. Try insulating the contacts to eliminate any possibilities of shorts.

        There could be faults in the wiring insulation which only show up when the wires contract in the colder temperature causing a short at a point the wire come into contact with any metal, i.e. like where the wire runs through a metal stud or metal joist. The runs of wire should be loose and not pulled taut.

        [b]Dawg[/b] ]:)

        • #3107069

          Or better yet

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Sounds more like a condensation problem

          just go wireless for the whole thing and not worry about bad wires!

          A wireless card for your pc’s isn’t expensive anymore.

        • #3093560

          but they’re

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Or better yet

          more expensive equipment
          (could be a wash as wires cost money too & time to run)

          not as fast as cat5
          less secure

          (insert old geezer rant:)
          back in the old days, when cat5 cable was solid core, if you sharply bent a segment of the wire you instantly destroyed it, i.e. it was looped and you pulled the loop tight. we had a cal-tech student intern crawling around in the ceilings of our plant installing the stuff, who didn’t quite get this, and it wouldn’t work unless he was careful. cold weather contracts metal so bends where it cracked slightly would open. less of a problem with todays stranded wire but it is still metal, not a polymer and can micro-crack if you bent it too much or stretched it too tight.

          the common mode noise reduction is supposed to eliminate or greatly reduce introduced noise such as from flourescent ballasts but especially if you didn’t terminate the ends correctly, you’ll still have data transmitting OK but no common mode noise reduction and ‘zap’ when flourescents or other noise source go on.

        • #3093460

          cost and speed

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to but they’re

          wireless card $50 to $80 usd.
          Access point as low as $30, up to $150.

          The flexibility of moving a system anywhere you want is a bonus.

          A much better solution than having to pull all new cables, because unless he has the use of a $10K tester, he is never going to find the spot that is causing the problem.

          If you go right along a main power line of across a flourescent light, you will pick up all kinds of noise.

          Speed, 10/100 vs 54. The ONLY time this would matter is copying large files from one system to another (talking GIGS). When your bottleneck is a 3 meg cable modem (or slower) if you were on a 10baseT network you would never no the difference.

          The only REAL overhead is the additional software running to make the wireless connection will take about 3 megs of ram.

          You also have more network overhead than on Ethernet, but again it is still much faster than what your internet connection is, it won’t impact him.

          The other choice is to run new cables for each system that drops off.

    • #3107200

      Maybe tight cables or contracting wires

      by deadly ernest ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      If it only heppens when cold then it could be that the cables have been drawn too tight and the contraction caused by the cold is breaking connections. I would check tension on the cables and recheck the quality of the connections at each end make sure they have sufficient copper in the crimp points and crimped properly.

      Another thing I would try is to place insulation around the cables where they go through walls and are most exposed in the attic and between buildings if they do.

      Also check that the power supply to the switch is not affected by the cold. The freeze may stop the power point from functioning, this would then stop the switch

    • #3107191

      Narrowing your search

      by sys-arch ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      Continuity is certainly a possible culprit as is condensation on the equipment. When you lose connectivity is it to all devices in the house? Is there only one port that loses connectivity?

      To narrow your search, if you have a laptop (or can borrow one), move it from cable to cable checking for connectivity. If you have a non-portable computer (or one you don’t want to move, you can get a long piece of Cat-5 (or higher) cabling to extend connectivity from another cable in the house to your computer. Just don’t exceed a total length of around 85 meters (around 275 feet) from your computer to the switch.

      The fact that you used riser-grade cable means you have solid-core (sigle solid conductor) cable. This doesn’t do well terminated in RJ-45 plugs; instead it is meant to be punched down, usually on the back of an RJ-45 jack. It is also stiffer than the stranded cable usually used in patch cords (short runs from your computer to the outlet in the wall.)

      The best way to terminate the cable is on punch-down style connectors. This involves a trip to Home Depot or your local computer supply shop for a few face plates and RJ-45 jacks. In the upstairs room, you can put several jacks in one faceplate (up to six or eight depending upon manufacturer) or purchase a short punch-down block that also has RJ-45 jacks. Then you run short Cat-5 (or higher) patch cables from your switch to the wall jacks upstairs and from your wall plates downstairs to your computers. The face plates also will make the installation look more professional and add to your home’s resale value.

      Here’s a link to do’s and dont’s for cable installation. Use these to check the computer wiring in your house.

      Home Depot carries Leviton-brand products among others. You can also pick up inexpensive cable testers (really continuity checkers) for telephone and ethernet cable there as well. Or you can order through your local cable supply shop like Graybar or online through your favorite computer supply store.

      If you have a good friend in the cable-making business, they can usually make a few patch cords for you for little or nothing. If you choose this route, make sure the cables are tested as least for continuity. These are not as trustworthy as store-bought, pre-certified cables.

      On a final note, make sure you wiggle the cable coming out of the plug when you are testing. This will expose many loose crimp or poor punch-down problems.

    • #3107099

      Narrowing it down

      by egray ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      All of these ideas are great. This gives me a few things to go on.

      To answer a few of your questions… The cables are punched down on both ends, jack on one end, distribution board on the other. I have a Leviton Structured Wiring box for LAN/Cable/etc, but the LAN wiring is all I’ve done so far. I ran the wiring while the house was being built early last year, so it’s not pulled tight (in fact, I have 20+ feet extra per run). However, I did make the patch cables from the same wire, so that would be something to look at. The laptop idea is sound, but the problem doesn’t happen in one place. I have 2 pc’s, 1 wired laptop, and one wireless laptop… all share the same problems.

      Now for the stupidity…

      I have a tone/probe kit, but I haven’t even thought of using it. Laziness, really… that and it’s really friggin dark (and cold) when it happens. I’ll string up a couple of lights when the temp drops again and run a few tests. The idea that I would screw up the wiring is inconcievable! (hehe)

      Thanks again

      • #3093525

        not just a toner

        by fbeechwood ·

        In reply to Narrowing it down

        You my want to test each wire in each cable.
        Don’t rely on a toner to tell you if all are working.(I live in Miami and it gets cold here too!)spend the extra time and I think you will find the problem is contration. you did use a harrris or allentel impact punchdown?? if it was one of those push it in levitons you may not have completley punchit down. (had that happen when one of my techs wired anew drop. She thought it was to expensive to buy a 50 dollar pnchdown)
        Anyway, good luck !
        I hope we are all being helpful to you.

        • #3093449

          cold (snicker)

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to not just a toner


          what does someone living in snowbird land know about cold? ;\

          Don’t you love it when people try to save a buck and end up wasting TONS of time AND money in the long run? Something to be said about doing it right the first time!

          It KILLS me all the people that have been asking me to “upgrade” their p150 so they can run xp. Sorry, won’t touch it! $400 usd later and you still have a piece of crap old computer that I will get the blame for. Replace it and throw the old one away or donate it to charity for a tax write off. (they still send old pc’s to kenya and the like.)

    • #3093505

      Check pairing and wiring scheme

      by a50mhzham ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      Amen to using a REAL spring-loaded punchdown tool from Harris or AT&T that hits the 110 connection with a real satisfying THWOCK. Just pushing the wire into it won’t do. But here’s two more gotchas that always creep up on do-it-yerselfers.

      1. Pairing / Wiring scheme. Did you know that you can wire up a cable or a run that rings out perfectly with a toner, lights-type tester, or ohmeter, yet still won’t carry 100mb Ethernet traffic? Why? Because even though every pin is connected to every pin, 1 isn’t a pair with 2, and/or 3 isn’t paired with 6. Didn’t follow either the EIA/TIA 568A or 568B wiring colors on the punchdowns, consistently at every drop? If you wired to 568A color sequence some places and 568B in others, then I can see a really marginal link that works only when everything’s perfect.

      2. Cable length: Try for limiting all runs to 100-180 feet each. Yeah, I know you can go 100 METERS (that’s over 320 feet) but do you have a Cisco Catalyst 5000 switch chassis with dual redundant power supplies and all the attendant over-engineering that went into it? Nah, didn’t think so. Be conservative.

      • #3093455


        by jdclyde ·

        In reply to Check pairing and wiring scheme

        would either work or not work, not fluctuate.

        Now if he clipped a wire when he was stripping it back (see it all the time) then that could be his problem.

        the 100 meters was for the 10baseT, and it was a timing issue. I doubt he would have gone anywhere near this in his house? For ONLY $600 USD, you can get some really cool ethernet extenders that will give you a mile easy! 😀 (of course, the speed drops down to at least 16mbs)

        We have to take it at face value that both of the switches he tried are good.

        One last idea about the crimping process. I agree having a quality crimper is NOT optional. When I first got hired into my current position, when they would make a cable, you would regualarly have to cut and end off and recrimp it because you didn’t get a good crimp. Turns out it wasn’t pushing the pins straight down and so one or more pins would miss the wire. Took a close look, but I spotted that (after about a month of figuring this wasn’t normal….) B-)

      • #3093192

        Pairing and wiring scheme

        by egray ·

        In reply to Check pairing and wiring scheme

        Yea, I’m guilty of using the cheap Leviton punch down thingie. I had a older Harris tool, but it was misplaced during construction… along with a spool of plenum cable, three hammers, a set of screwdrivers, 2 ladders, and two really nice folding sawhorses. Gotta love sub-contractors.

        As for the pairings, I used EIA/TIA 568B throughout the house. Although I’ve managed servers and workstations for years, I’ve never really done any wiring. A mistake could have very well been made in my haste to finish up things.

        Cable length shouldn’t be a problem, as my house is only about 85 feet wide. The cables only run up about 12 feet into the attic, then roughly 75 feet max to the bonus room.

    • #3093440


      by leonardw ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      Perhaps Electromagnetic Interference is causing it?
      you said it occurs at night, when lights and other electrical components are utilized more?

      at work, 2 network cables ceased to work after the lights came on, just rewired it and it worked fine.

      let us know.

      • #3093400

        Not a lighting problem

        by mjd420nova ·

        In reply to emi?

        Only happens when cold… Works okay all summer
        even at night. Got to be temp related.
        Buy a can of circuit cooler and spray each
        connector when every thing is working. The
        faulty connection will promptly go bad…

    • #3093395

      Reply To: Cat5 Wiring Problem

      by user223 ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      Im guessing its more thermal than connectivity…Go to GreyBar or somewhere on the net and get a small wall mount cabintet (some out there are very cool looking too) to put it in. It may insulate it just enough to level out the temp changes. Test the theory with a box or something…bet it will work for ya, though..

    • #3093303

      Network spec’s or server oriented?

      by execom ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      I would like to know the basic outline of the network. If you have a server, etc. The ability to ping one computer or if they all (how many) are unable to be pinged. You could have a cable that has a wire that is cracked/broken but making contact during warm (expanded wire) temp’s and then losing contact (shrunken wire) during cooler temp’s.

    • #3133139

      Two suggestions to problem

      by nscavone ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      Sounds strange – two things, maybe three;
      1 – do youthink it could be that when you turn on the heat the temp gets too hot in the room there to allow the switch to work? If a heating duct is there it could raise the temp to a very high level.
      2 – Power, think that the extra electricity usage during the cold evenings is causing a low wattage brownout on the line? Seems unlikely as I know the power drain is probably small but you never know.
      3 – any possible electrical interference from lights or other equipment that the cables may pass over that are on during the evening and not during the day?

      Hope it helps

    • #3133080

      The question is where does it occur?

      by x-marcap ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      Does it happen that none of the wiring reaches the hub successfully, or do you have multiple machines on a network to check it out?

      Temperature when cold makes me think it is at a junction somehow. If it died when it rains, it would be better…



    • #3077917

      Seriously Doubt It’s Temperature Related

      by rkuhn040172 ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      From my personal experience and not recommending this but it does work, I have not only wired my entire house but also my neighbors.

      I live in central Indiana which is much colder right now than Florida and I have no issues.

      My house wiring is CAT5e from a closet in the garage, up through the attic, down the walls, and into the interior rooms.

      My neighbors (this is the not recommended part) are simply CAT5e buried under the lawn without any kind of shielding or protection…simply CAT5e buried under the grass about 6-9 inches down (not even below the frost line).

      One neighbor is 270 feet away! And this has been working for 2+ years.

      My thinking was that CAT5e is so cheap (I buy it in 1,000 foot amounts), if a cable were to break/stop working, I’d just rerun it.

      We pull about 40-45Mbs with all PC’s running software firewalls, through a switch and a patch panel. Turning off software firewalls results in about 85-90Mbs…shows how inefficient they are.

      I know this by using Chariot? software’s product called QCheck.

      If I were you, I’d look for reasons other than temperature. I know my garage has at times dropped below freezing and all my wiring, equipment, etc runs just as normal…probably shortening their life expectency but nonetheless, everything in my closet is 2-3 years old and no problems yet.

    • #3075125

      Back to Basics

      by skeith ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      A). Reterminate your cable ends.

      B). If you are using an RJ-45 Female to Female coupler change it out for a wall type female connector.

      C). Inspect for nails being driven into the cable for picture or shelf hanging.

      D). If all else fails buy a voodoo doll.

    • #2865498

      Condensation may be the problem

      by nicktol ·

      In reply to Cat5 Wiring Problem

      Try wrapping a large trash bag around the switch at night, for a temporary troubleshoot. The damp Florida night air may be causing problems in your switches. They are both too small to generate a lot of heat that would help keep the componenty inside clear of settling moisture. Remember to use a large bag, even the smallest of gear needs some air to breathe. I would recommend the cheap unit, if it has no fan it will be perfect for this experiment. If you can try this on a weekend night, try your connections periodially as long as you can stay up. If it works, look into some type of DVR case or other enclosure that can help regulate the atmosphere around the switch.

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