Missing speaker wire in pre-wired home - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 14 Old 12-07-2019, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Missing speaker wire in pre-wired home

Hi all, this is my first post to this forum so I apologize if this is in the incorrect forum.
I recently moved into a new house and we discovered that our home was prewired for surround sound, two cable boxes in the front and two cable boxes in the back housed the ends for the speaker wire, which all led to one cable box in the center near the floor for the receiver end. Once we got it entirely set up correctly, we noticed that we had 8 wires unaccounted for (or 4 pairs of positive and negative.)
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I drew up a quick little diagram to show how we have our wires connected.

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The first area I suspect for the missing wires to be located is the ceiling.

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There are 4 light fixtures in the ceiling with a completely separate switch to control the lights attached to the ceiling fan. My issue is that we have 14 foot ceilings, so getting up there with a ladder to root around and check is incredibly difficult. Is there a better way to tell how or where the wires would lead to? Is it common to have a house pre wired with speaker wire that leads to lighting housings?
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post #2 of 14 Old 12-07-2019, 03:26 PM
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Some of the speakers are probably dual voice coil. Do you have any rooms with only one speaker? If so, odds are pretty good those speakers will be the ones with a dual voice coil.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.
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post #3 of 14 Old 12-07-2019, 11:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
Some of the speakers are probably dual voice coil. Do you have any rooms with only one speaker? If so, odds are pretty good those speakers will be the ones with a dual voice coil.
Well the speakers we installed and mounted ourselves, originally they were just wall plates with only a positive and negative end in them (besides the rear left but the rear right speaker wires led to the rear left, then the bundle of four led to the receiver)
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post #4 of 14 Old 12-08-2019, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Max Wagner View Post
Is it common to have a house pre wired with speaker wire that leads to lighting housings?
"Common" is a nebulous term.

From an audio perspective, I'll leave it to the audio experts to speak to the possible disadvantages of putting speaker and electrical wires in the same enclosure or raceway.

From an electrical code perspective the answer depends on the insulation rating of the speaker wire as compared to the lighting wires. According to NEC 300.3(C)(1), you can only have speaker cable in the same raceway or enclosure as a higher-voltage circuit if the insulation of the speaker cable is rated for the voltage of the higher-voltage circuit.

NEC 2008 300.3(C) Conductors of Different Systems

(C) Conductors of Different Systems.
(1) 1000 Volts, Nominal, or Less. Conductors of ac and DC circuits, rated 1000 volts, nominal, or less, shall be permitted to occupy the same equipment wiring enclosure, cable, or raceway.All conductors shall have an insulation rating equal to at least the maximum circuit voltage applied to any conductor within the enclosure, cable, or raceway.


If the lighting is 120VAC lighting, and assuming you live in an area where the NEC is followed, then insulation of the speakers wires must be rated the same as the AC wires. If it's standard Romex, I believe that it will be 600 VAC.

However, if the ceiling fixtures are for LED's or other low voltage lighting, you might be OK, from a NEC perspective, having speaker wires in the same enclosure as the wiring for the lights.

Either way, unless the lighting fixture itself contains a speaker, the speaker wires are going to have to leave the enclosure and be run to wherever the speakers actually are.
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post #5 of 14 Old 12-08-2019, 12:53 PM
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I think it would be unlikely that speaker wires would end in 120V boxes, and poor design even if it were legal. Where is your first photo taken? Could you identify and label (as much as possible) all the wires in that photo? It looks as some might not be proper. In your second and third photos, you have a number of lines drawn to speakers. Have you experimentally determined that those wires, with those colors, go to those speaker locations (by testing them)? You may have to get a ladder which reaches 14 feet, but in your one photo of the ceiling, I see no evidence of any speakers there.

Any possibility of contacting the previous owner?
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post #6 of 14 Old 12-08-2019, 07:00 PM
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Maybe another zone, somewhere else in the house.
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post #7 of 14 Old 12-09-2019, 12:52 AM
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Try outside the house - I would bet there would be a speaker setup for outside on the patio.
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post #8 of 14 Old 12-12-2019, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MTVhike View Post
I think it would be unlikely that speaker wires would end in 120V boxes, and poor design even if it were legal. Where is your first photo taken? Could you identify and label (as much as possible) all the wires in that photo? It looks as some might not be proper. In your second and third photos, you have a number of lines drawn to speakers. Have you experimentally determined that those wires, with those colors, go to those speaker locations (by testing them)? You may have to get a ladder which reaches 14 feet, but in your one photo of the ceiling, I see no evidence of any speakers there.

Any possibility of contacting the previous owner?
When we installed each of the speakers, we tested each wire set and we have it all correctly installed, the picture with the line drawings was to show how I believe each wire is run, but I'm unsure. We get true surround sound with front right and left and surround right and left, the colors just show which wires are leading to which box. Every single wire which leads to a box is connected to the receiver and each was tested to see if each has their own channel, and it does. We just have those sets of 4 wires that are bundled and zero indication of where they go in the house, and I have checked everywhere for cable boxes but couldn't find any.
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post #9 of 14 Old 12-12-2019, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Worf View Post
Try outside the house - I would bet there would be a speaker setup for outside on the patio.
I've checked outside and everywhere in the house for other cable boxes like the ones in the living room, but I can't find any evidence that there's a spot where the wires would lead.
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-12-2019, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DerbyDad03 View Post
"Common" is a nebulous term.

From an audio perspective, I'll leave it to the audio experts to speak to the possible disadvantages of putting speaker and electrical wires in the same enclosure or raceway.

From an electrical code perspective the answer depends on the insulation rating of the speaker wire as compared to the lighting wires. According to NEC 300.3(C)(1), you can only have speaker cable in the same raceway or enclosure as a higher-voltage circuit if the insulation of the speaker cable is rated for the voltage of the higher-voltage circuit.

NEC 2008 300.3(C) Conductors of Different Systems

(C) Conductors of Different Systems.
(1) 1000 Volts, Nominal, or Less. Conductors of ac and DC circuits, rated 1000 volts, nominal, or less, shall be permitted to occupy the same equipment wiring enclosure, cable, or raceway.All conductors shall have an insulation rating equal to at least the maximum circuit voltage applied to any conductor within the enclosure, cable, or raceway.


If the lighting is 120VAC lighting, and assuming you live in an area where the NEC is followed, then insulation of the speakers wires must be rated the same as the AC wires. If it's standard Romex, I believe that it will be 600 VAC.

However, if the ceiling fixtures are for LED's or other low voltage lighting, you might be OK, from a NEC perspective, having speaker wires in the same enclosure as the wiring for the lights.

Either way, unless the lighting fixture itself contains a speaker, the speaker wires are going to have to leave the enclosure and be run to wherever the speakers actually are.
Is there a standard way to demonstrate where ends of wires lead? Around the house there are also wires sticking out of the wall for motion sensors that got painted over, that all lead to a cable box of where to install an alarm sensor, but nothing for speaker wire. In the living room the wires lead to standard outlet boxes with covers on them, and inside was only speaker wire and nothing else.
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post #11 of 14 Old 12-12-2019, 01:47 PM
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post #12 of 14 Old 12-12-2019, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Wagner View Post
Is there a standard way to demonstrate where ends of wires lead? Around the house there are also wires sticking out of the wall for motion sensors that got painted over, that all lead to a cable box of where to install an alarm sensor, but nothing for speaker wire. In the living room the wires lead to standard outlet boxes with covers on them, and inside was only speaker wire and nothing else.
A "tone and probe" kit is often used to identify which wire is which in a patch panel, junction box or breaker box. However, in those cases, you have access to both ends so when you apply the tone to one end, the probe can hear it at the other, helping you find the specific wire in amongst many others.

For a situation like yours, you might need something like an underground wire locator since you don't know where the other end is or even in what direction it runs. You'd hooked the generator up to the exposed end and start tracing immediately, moving in whatever direction the tone seems to go.

Something like this, although this one says "not for multi-strandwire". Not sure why that matters, but I've never used one for locating speaker wires hidden inside walls.

https://www.amazon.com/F02-Undergrou.../dp/B01GDZLZOU
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post #13 of 14 Old 12-13-2019, 12:01 AM
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I think that's because multi strand wire can branch off and end up with confusing results. It says it's fine with single strand and parallel double strand. I suspect if there are 4 strands going the same way it's fine too. But not if you have a bunch of wires that lead every which way which can get you completely confused.

But yeah,those are what you use to find missing speaker wire.
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post #14 of 14 Old 12-13-2019, 07:21 AM
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Someone had to wire the boxes. Does the previous owner know the configuration, or installer? Eight wires is four speakers. My guess would be other outdoor or indoor Zones. You just need to find where. I would check adjacent rooms. I doubt bedroom speakers would be controlled from the living room. The Tone and Probe will help to a degree, but you at least need to be in proximity of the wire which is difficult if you don't know where the other end is.
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