The Best of the “Worst Install Mistake” Contest - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
Baselworld is only a few weeks away. Getting the latest news is easy, Click Here for info on how to join the newsletter list. Follow our team for updates featuring event coverage, new product unveilings, watch industry news & more!

Forum Jump: 
  • 1 Post By bigredishott
  • 1 Post By Protan
  • 1 Post By barber76
Thread Tools
post #1 of 13 Old 10-17-2012, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
espodo's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 85
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 19
The Best of the “Worst Install Mistake” Contest

Back in June, we ran a contest where we asked AVS members to share their worst home theater installation mistakes ever for a chance to win an Epson projector. The responses we got were both hilarious and heartbreaking, often simultaneously. There were tales of smashed plasmas, fried, smoking electronics, electrocution, pets and children causing destruction, and of course, lots of faulty wiring.

This “EPIC FAIL” thread was one for the records, and we thought it too good to slip quietly into the archives without highlighting some of the best/worst stories from members who were brave enough to share. So, for the permanent record, here are some “worst install mistake” tales we thought were worthy of highlighting. Just think of these bonehead moves the next time you make an embarrassing, costly error, and you will be consoled. Because its good to remember: it could always be worse...

The winning story was submitted by JakeRobb. It's hard not to feel bad for the poor guy after reading this maddening play-by-play:


Took delivery of my new Denon AVR-2313ci last Friday. In the weeks leading up to that, I had been gathering parts to install a pair of outdoor speakers to mount under the soffit out on my deck, to be connected to the receiver as Zone 2. In addition to the speakers themselves (Polk Atrium 4's), I bought wire, outlet boxes, banana plugs, banana-plug wall plates, and glow-in-the-dark fiberglass flexible fish rod.

I started by drilling and cutting one of the holes in the soffit for the right channel outlet box, and then running the wire through and into the attic with the fishing rod. So far so good -- I crawled into the attic and pulled the wire up the rest of the way, leaving the other ends coiled up near the top of the living room wall, to be finished later. Then back out to the deck, where I drill and cut the other hole. Here I'm closer to the adjacent side of the house, and the roof pitch makes it quite a bit more difficult to pass the fish rod through into the attic. So I get out my drill and make a hole through what I thought was a roof rafter. The drill goes through no problem, and I pass the fish rod through. I hear a funny scraping sound as I do this, but I just think that the metal end of the fish rod is touching the underside of the roof.

Mistake #1:

As it turns out, the ceiling in my dining room (adjacent to the deck) is a few inches higher than the soffit, and the hole I just drilled wasn't through a rafter -- it was through the dining room wall. That scraping sound was the fish rod against the textured plaster on the ceiling. So now I have a 5/8" hole conveniently going clear through the wall, and the fish rod is going from outside the house right into the dining room. There's a nice pile of plaster dust on the floor. Whoops!

So I laugh it off, pull the fish rod back through, plug the hole, and patch it up with some plaster. I'll have to admit what happened to my wife when she gets home later (this got me a thwack on the head, Gibbs-style for any NCIS fans present) and we can paint over it in a couple days when the plaster has fully cured.

Moving on, I found a better way to route the cable (not through the dining room wall this time) and got that speaker wire run into the attic and over to the living room wall. Yay! Now it's time for the hardest part -- locating the correct section of wall through which to pass the wires, and then actually passing them. I decided that since I was already doing plaster work, the easiest way was to drill a small hole in the ceiling from the living room, right near the wall, push the fish rod up through that hole, and then crawl up into the attic to locate it. So that's what I did, except I couldn't find the fish rod up in the attic. I clearly hadn't drilled far enough. So I went back down to the living room and used an 18"-long spade bit (the same one I used to drill through the dining room wall) to drill farther. About 6" in, I encountered another surface to drill through, just like I expected. I kept going, and eventually got to a point where the drill chuck was flush with the ceiling, and the entire 18" bit had a clear path into the attic. I pulled the drill out.

Mistake #2:

When I pulled the drill out, I saw sunlight. I had drilled through the roof. OH CRAP. I'm REALLY not looking forward to telling my wife about this one!

The hole in the roof ended up being incredibly useful. I ran a 10' length of fish rod up through the hole in the ceiling, leaving one end on the living room floor. I went outside and confirmed that a foot or so was coming through the roof. Then I went up on the roof with my drill and my trusty 18" spade bit (really good track record with this so far, wouldn't you say?). I pulled the fish rod through to the roof and set it aside, and then put the drill down through the hole I had just made, but putting it at an angle so as to make a hole into the wall cavity rather than into the living room itself. The drill went through cleanly, but given my past results I was a bit nervous. I pulled the drill out and ran the fish rod down into the hole. It went all the way in pretty easily, leaving a foot or so sticking out of the hole in the roof.

I went around to the side of the house to check for a gaping hole in the siding. There was none! What a relief! Now it's time to go in to the living room and cut the outlet hole in the wall, where I'll hopefully find my fish rod. I make a starter hole with the drill (1" spade bit this time to make room for the sawzall blade), and then open it up to match the size of my three-gang outlet box. Then I reach inside and feel around, what do you know -- my fish rod is there! Hooray! I wrestle with it a little and get it coming out of the hole and into the living room, then go outside and look to see how much of it is still sticking through the roof. Just a few inches, perfect. Back into the living room, I pull the fish rod down that much plus two inches, with the plan being that the end should be sticking up in the attic, easy to find and tape the ends of the wire to it. Then I head up into the attic and find exactly what I was hoping for. I cram myself into the tiny space between the ceiling joists and the low-pitch roof, scraping the back of my head on the roofing nails, and struggle to tape the wires to the fish rod. I get that done after a few minutes of fighting with it and trying not to breathe in too much fiberglass insulation, and then head back down to the living room. I expect this to be my last trip into the attic, so I collect my light, my tape, etc. on the way out.

Back into the living room, I pull the fish rod down. There's more drag than before -- a good sign. I keep pulling, and eventually I have two 12/2 speaker wires coming out of the wall and into my hand. At this point I let out a cheer loud enough to scare my dog.

From there it's a simple matter of mounting the outlet box, putting banana plugs on the ends of the wires, connecting them to the outlet plate, and creating a couple short patches to run from the outlet plate to the binding posts on the receiver. Four steps left: mount the speakers, plug in, test, and then get up on the roof and patch that hole, because there's a thunderstorm in the immediate forecast. I plugged the hole in the roof with a short piece of dowel rod of the same diameter as the drill bit, and sealed it off with silicone. Once the silicone has had time to cure, I'll slather over it with some roofing tar. That'll be good enough to hold for a couple of years until I need a new roof.

In the meantime, having music on the deck is the best thing ever, and totally worth a couple of holes in the house.

Honorable Mentions:


How about wiring speakers to each other as opposed to the receiver, then spending 40 minutes scratching your head as to why there is no sound! There’s too much of a mess of wires in the back, and evidently I wired an output on the receiver of one speaker to the other as well, so it didn’t look like anything was missing. Labeling cables before plugging them in helps, I guess. I will just stop there.


We built our house new in 2001. I had a room designated as the "Home Theater" room and told the builder that I would run all of the speaker wire and cables need for audio & video. I spent many hours finding the right cables I wanted and the lengths that I needed. I had everything installed and good to go. I gave the builders specific instructions not to touch my wiring, etc. The builders complied with my request. What I failed to do was to make sure I had breakout boxes for my cables and notes to the builder on where to leave an opening in the dry wall. Of course this led to the dry wall being put up and the paint job completed and all of my work was covered up! Initially I was furious with the builder, but how could I be since I did not communicate correctly what was needed. I had to spend extra time and money having the drywall cut to reach the cables that were hidden and I felt quite foolish when all was said and done. Lesson learned for future installs, all is well now, and I have had 10+ years enjoying my handy (or not so handy?) work.



Mark this one under potential Darwin Award candidate -

So I have/had this bad habit of stripping wire with my teeth. (This is known as foreshadowing) Speaker wire stripping is what I had always used them for. But when I finished my basement (bar area / bathroom / spare bedroom) and my sub basement (theater room) I got in this habit of pulling the jacket off the wire with my teeth no matter what the situation was.

At one point in the project, I had been running up and down between the bar area and the theater room, shutting breakers off, turning them back on. Well, I ran back down in the theater room, all the lights were off, and the work lights were on. So I get up on the ladder to continue wiring the can lights in the ceiling. I cut the jacket off some dangling wire and grab the jacket with my teeth and pull.

About 2 seconds later I'm off the ladder, laying on the ground, a little bewildered. Yup, I striped a 20 amp 12 gauge live wire with my teeth and had my butt handed to me for my efforts. I had made the mistake of thinking the breaker was still off for the lights in the theater room because the bar area was also dark. (The lights were on the same circuit.) Turns out I had simply shut the lights off in the bar area and, after being distracted by something else for a moment, had forgotten this minorly important detail. Dark rooms meant the electricity was off, right? Not so much.

No permanent injuries that I know of (My wife might argue some cognitive function was impaired), and the resulting theater was totally worth it.



I accidentally shorted a sub cable that was plugged into an AVR that was on, but the display was off, against the main power sub panel. I fried everything that had HDMI hooked to it (AVR, projector, BDP, DirecTV receiver). A grown man sitting in the middle of a room in tears at 2AM is not a pretty site. The worst part was, two days prior, I had scolded a friend for working on his stuff with power still going to it because he had blown a fuse on an ML sub I sold to him.


I was hanging a TV and pictures and such in the bedroom of our old apartment when we first moved in. I was tapping a brad in the wall and could tell I had gotten through the drywall and had some resistance. What luck! I found a stud. So I gave a big 'twack' with my hammer and it wasn't a stud. It was the freon line to the AC unit in the closet behind. Oily freon gas starting SPRAYING out of the wall. Like a geyser!

And last but not least, we couldn't resist including roodkopje's submission, without which this list wouldn't quite be complete:

I installed a girlfriend in my couch: the worst mistake for my home theater I ever made. Now I am not allowed to upgrade anymore.

In case you missed it, or want to read all the groan-inducing submissions, here's the original contest thread, which is a veritable comedy of errors. Enjoy the blunders!

espodo is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 13 Old 11-13-2012, 02:11 PM
conanb's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Houston area
Posts: 128
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
Liked: 14
Placed new projector on a cheap TV tray to test before hanging from ceiling mount.<br>A few minutes later the TV tray collapses to the floor.<br>New projector sent in for repairs.
conanb is offline  
post #3 of 13 Old 01-04-2013, 06:06 AM
Bespin's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 0
My favorite story was chirpie's. I could not stop laughing the entire time.
Bespin is offline  
post #4 of 13 Old 02-21-2013, 09:14 AM
bigredishott's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
I was helping my old man remodel his living room 20'x10', and he asked me to run the speaker wires in the wall for is Bose. (I know junk but easy for old people) When I drilled the holes through the studs it wasn't deep enough, I also didn't put the metal plates to protect the wire, we shorted out one of the wires hanging the sheet rock with a screw. In the same house I was running a cable wire to a bed room in the basement. I had to drill a hole though all the floor joist along the way. (old house hard wood joist) I stopped paying attention and just kept drilling. Well I start drilling into one joist and sparks start flying !! I just drilled in to the 240V wire to the stove. (The thickest wire in the house and the highest amp circuit) The drill had a plastic shell thank goodness and I had nothing more than a good scare and lesson learned.
oneeyeblind likes this.
bigredishott is offline  
post #5 of 13 Old 10-31-2014, 09:35 AM
AVS Special Member
BizarroTerl's Avatar
Join Date: May 2001
Location: San Jose, CA USA
Posts: 1,861
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 33 Post(s)
Liked: 46
My brother told me this one.

Building a new home and wanted to prewire for speakers. Told the electrician where to run the wires to. Later visits the site and he checks the work (luckily). The electrician had run wires. One wire to each speaker location. It took him a half hour to impress upon the electrician that each speaker needs two wires, not one.
BizarroTerl is offline  
post #6 of 13 Old 11-05-2014, 07:17 AM
AVS Special Member
steve1971's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Posts: 2,438
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 356 Post(s)
Liked: 365
Worst install mistake? COMCAST!!!! I should have never left Directv.
steve1971 is offline  
post #7 of 13 Old 11-05-2014, 07:53 AM
Advanced Member
action_jackson's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 875
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 193 Post(s)
Liked: 52
I grew up in the 80's where it was common practice to make mix tapes from recordings off the radio. I spent many hours sitting there with my finger ready to record the next song, lol. Moving to the modern age of satellite tv, computers and MP3's, I decided to try my hand at a digital recording. I first took some of my old tapes and transfered them to CD's.

Then I had the bright idea that I would record some song off of the music channel on the satellite using my computer! I first turned off all my components and unplugged them. Then I drilled a small hole through the wall between the living room and my office and passed through a 3.5mm to RCA splitter, connecting the RCA connectors to the satellite output and the 3.5mm to the computer's mic in. I plugged in the satellite, then as I was plugging in the computer there was a loud POP! Sparks shot from the outlet and the computer had a foul burnt smell eminating from it.

Come to find out, when I had been replacing all the outlets in the house, several month prior to the incident, I had wired the outlet in the office backwards. Everything worked fine that was powered from the outlet until it was connected to another piece of equipment powered with the opposite polaritey, then POW! There went my motherboard in the PC and it completely fried the satellite box as well.

That officially ended my days of trying to record music from the radio.

Epson Home Cinema 3010 Projector____Paradigm 9SE MK II Main LR
Yamaha RX-V667 AVR_______________Paradigm CC-270 V.3 Center
Emotiva UPA-5 Amplifier______________Dual Stereo Integrity 18" Infinite Baffle
Sony BDP-570 Blu Ray_______________DIY Sound Group Volt 10
action_jackson is offline  
post #8 of 13 Old 11-20-2014, 07:01 AM
SMMM's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 16
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 2
Oh man, this brings me back.
SMMM is offline  
post #9 of 13 Old 12-01-2014, 12:27 PM
Protan's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Atl
Posts: 26
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked: 13
This weekend

Running a Ethernet wire to my theater( tired of wifi dropping in and out, even with range extender) started drilling through the header to drop the wire down the inside of the wall, and I drilled right through the power outlet wire for my projector, well after rebuilding the outlet, drilled another hole, went right through a speaker wire, so finally after spending 5 hours trying to get back to zero, i drilled a third hole and it worked, I am old enough that I will pay someone next time.
oneeyeblind likes this.
Protan is offline  
post #10 of 13 Old 12-02-2014, 01:59 PM
JTTheatre's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 17
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked: 10
The worst mistake I have made is only pulling one cat 6 cable when I built my home to the projector and not 4. Didn't plan that.
JTTheatre is offline  
post #11 of 13 Old 06-25-2015, 10:50 AM
barber76's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 88
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked: 13
Worst mistake I'me made three days ago installing bathtub sink. I saved ~50$ on doing it myself. Now I have to pay at least $1k for laminate flooring replacement...
oneeyeblind likes this.
barber76 is offline  
post #12 of 13 Old 07-03-2015, 02:35 AM
davegreg's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: 4 Southfork Ct Cockeysville
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 0
Worst mistake I've made was setting up my home theater without instruction.

davegreg is offline  
post #13 of 13 Old 11-19-2015, 05:48 PM
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Space
Posts: 1
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 0
Wow. Those are some amazing stories!
SuperForce is offline  
Sponsored Links
Reply AVS Forum Articles

Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off