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Where do the ethernet jacks in my house go?
Old 01-01-2009, 07:43 AM   #1
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Where do the ethernet jacks in my house go?

Our house was built in the 90s, we bought it last year. Several of the rooms have wall plates with an ethernet cable sticking out of them. However, I can't find where the other end of all the cables comes together (e.g. where I could plug them all into a router/switch). I've checked all the rooms, closets, garage, and attic. In the attic, there are wires run all across the ceiling, but none of them looks like ethernet cable, and most of them are obscured by the blow-in insulation, so its hard to trace. I expect the patch panel would be at least somewhat accessible. Any other tips on where these things usually terminate?
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:48 AM   #2
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It's probably your telephone wiring, they seem to use ethernet cable for telephone wiring these days.
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:50 AM   #3
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Probably in a service area near your electrical panel and telephone/cable entrance. May not be cat5 though, as burch said.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:26 AM   #4
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When we built our home a few years ago we used cat5 for both network and phone, they both along with the TV cabling all come to the same box. Have you found your cable TV terminus? Most of the folks around here have theirs in a closet in the master BR but could be elsewhere.

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Old 01-01-2009, 10:59 AM   #5
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In my newer home, the CAT5 other ends are coiled up inside a small box (6"x8"?) with a grey cover plate, inside a closet.

In my older home with just old 4-wire telephone wiring, I was able to put 10Mbps Ethernet through it. Not real fast for file sharing, but plenty fast to get on the Internet.

I also have WiFi, but prefer wired connection for more reliability.
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:23 PM   #6
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Back when I strung coax for mainframe terminals, I used a device phone guys have to find wires. It's called a toner - and puts a tone on the wire. You also need a probe - which detects and amplifies the tone. Once you put the tone on the wire, you can walk around the house waving the probe and you'll soon find your wire. You can use it to trace any kind of wire -- telephone, coax, data, AC etc.
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:22 PM   #7
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Yes, the wire tracer that riskadverse described is indispensable to identify the wire at the other end, among the bundle. That is after you have located where the bundle end emerges.

The probe I bought will sound a tone when in proximity of the wire that has the toner attached. However, it has to be within 1 ft. The toner/probe pair cost me $70, if I remember correctly.

Without it, you would go nuts, trying to figure out which wire ends match up.
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Old 01-02-2009, 09:11 AM   #8
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If you really can't find it anywhere inside - one more place to check would be outside the house inside your Network Interface Device (NID) - typically a small gray plastic box. Uncommon but I've seen it wired this way.
Link to see what is a NID: Phone-man's Home Phone Wiring Advice Page- Network Interface Device
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:42 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice. Upon closer inspection, it turns out there are only two jacks with ethernet cable sticking out of them, one in study and one in master bedroom. A closer look at some of the other ethernet jacks revealed them to just be phone jacks. I think the two rooms are linked by the same cable which would explain everything.
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