Surround sound systems add depth and power to the home viewing experience, but some people are hesitant to install them due to concerns about wiring the speakers. Specifically, there can be uncertainty about how to route wiring from the receiver to the surround speakers.
Fortunately, running speaker wire in a carpeted room room makes the job a lot easier. Below is a step-by-step guide to routing speaker wire via baseboards.
1. Lay out the path of the wire
Before you begin cutting wire and pulling up carpet, take a few moments to lay out the path of the wire along the baseboards. Selecting the exact path is largely a matter of preference and finding a suitable route along the wall with no intervening doorways or other obstacles.
However, keep in mind the longer the speaker wire runs from your audiovisual equipment to the speakers, the more electrical resistance the sound signals will encounter. Increased resistance can alter the sound quality as it is played by the speakers. Therefore, try to keep the route as short as possible for best sound quality.
Once you select a suitable path, use a tape measure to determine the overall length of the wire. Measure the distance along the baseboards as well as the distance up the wall to the speakers. Add a few extra inches to the totals to provide a margin of error.
2. Begin the wire routing process
After you have made a determination of how to lay out the wire and have cut the separate wire strands to length, the next step is to attach the ends of the wires to the A/V receiver. Each of the two surround speakers will be fed by a pair of wires, so four strands will be attached to the A/V receiver and routed along the baseboard.
Next, drop the wires straight down to the baseboard and gently pull up about three inches of carpeting from the wall. You may need to use a pair of pliers to grasp the carpet, but be sure not to rip it or damage the baseboard.
Once you have pulled back the carpeting, you will notice the tack strip that lies approximately an inch from the wall and also visualize a narrow gap beneath the baseboard. The tack strip is a thin strip of wood with several sharp tacks pointing up; the tacks hold the carpet in place.
3. Route the wire
The wires will be placed in the gap between the tack strip and baseboard, so begin tucking the individual wire strands neatly into place. Tuck the wires underneath the baseboard, if possible, to provide maximum protection. However, the most important objective is to keep the wires from encountering the tack strip; the sharp tacks can puncture the wires easily.
Once you have tucked the first few inches of wiring into the gap, push the carpet back into place before pulling up the next three inches. Be careful not to stick your fingers with the tacks when pushing carpet back down.
By alternating between pulling up carpet and tucking wires, you will be able to keep most of the carpet attached to the tack strips at the same time. This will prevent the carpet from losing its taut installation and requiring re-stretching as a result.
4. Finish the wire routing
Continue the process of tucking wire strands into the space between the baseboard and tack strip until you reach a point directly below the first surround sound speaker. At that point, route the appropriate pair of wires directly up the wall toward the surround sound speaker and attach it to the speaker.
Next, continue routing the remaining pair of wires to the second surround speaker. Repeat the process of stopping beneath the speaker and routing the wires directly up the wall to the speaker.
If you're concerned about doing any wiring work, don't hesitate to call a residential electrician.