I have been bought a surround sound system for Christmas and would like to have it all cabled in behind the walls. What happens if anything goes wrong with the cables? What would you suggest to use to hold the cables and how easy is it to do, is it safe to constantly have the system hooked up to power? Is there any alternatives?
Speaker systems generally use ‘Extra Low Voltage’ (E.L.V. under 50 Volts AC). The speaker audio cables can be flushed into walls but should be kept separate from the 230 Volt mains cables within your house.
Installing speaker cables in standard plastered walls would require chasing/cutting just wider than the cable. The cables can then be fixed with plastic cable clips direct to the wall, filled and decorated. A wider chase can be made allowing for a metal or plastic capping to be fitted over the cable, which protects it from the cement or plaster that is used to fill the chase. Galvanised nails must be used to secure any capping fitted over the cable to protect it from the cement or plaster used to fill the chase. Galvanised nails are essential as normal nails will rust and bleed through the plaster to the painted surface above.
If your walls are dry lined with plasterboard or are stud partition walls, then you may be able to pass the cables part of the way inside the wall, but be wary of obstructions such as wooden noggins. Holes would then have to be cut in the boarding to pass the cables round the obstructions, meaning that repairs may be difficult.
There are many types of walls that cannot be cut without permanent damage, such as straw and some plasterboard walls with honeycomb inside. These walls can still have cables installed but you may find it cheaper to employ a professional to install them for you. The system should be tested before plastering or repairing walls to make sure the cables are okay. If they are damaged at a later stage, they would require repair or replacement.
An alternative to flushing the cables into the wall, would be installing a miniature trunking system around the room, normally square and white, but there are now various choices of shape and variation of colour, even a wood effect is available.
Most electrical items such as televisions, DVD players, Sky / Freeview boxes and stereo systems have standby systems that allow them to be left on while still using power. Remember that it’s green to turn off your equipment when not using it; it will last longer and it is safer to turn off at the wall or unplug completely.
Original questions from Simply Spalding and answers provided by Kelvin Goulden