Long time readers will remember that when we bought this place the crawl space that runs under most of the house was a very tight space. The huge ducts for the old diesel furnaces took up almost all the available space and to access anything lot of belly crawling and squirming was required — often across narrow planks of wood. This made doing things like replumbing drain lines and treating the house for subterranean termites rather difficult.
After the diesel-burning furnaces and all their duct work were replaced with mini-splits we tidied up the space, fixed yet more drain pipe issues, re-insulated things, and even installed some lighting. Not to mention removing a lot of random garbage. We even have the occasional wildlife living down there.
Then this past summer we finally managed to knock the last item off the list of things we needed to address “down there.” AKA the rats nest of phone wires tacked to the joists and in some cases just laying across the concrete foundation floor. This was done at the same time we revamped the wireless network: the bonus is that Agent Smith used the opportunity to upgrade all our old APs with newer models and now we have lovely full coverage throughout the house.
I was the one that got to do all the crawling around under the house though. Made good sense as I’m able to squeeze into the tighter areas of the crawlspace in the north wing. The downside is that I was the one that had to shove my arm up into the old metal return vents because instead of trying to fish wires through walls, we made use of the returns we had left in the walls during the furnace replacement project. Let me back up a bit and explain that: when we had the big old twin diesel furnaces and their duct work pulled out we had a bunch of big return vents throughout the house. Almost all of them were above eye level and ripping them out of the walls made no sense, so we simply patched over the holes and left the bottom portions dipping down into the crawlspace.
Those old return ducts provided a great way to fish ethernet cables down through the walls. Instead of drilling into our pretty floors and running wires up the walls, we simply made small holes where the new APs would sit and fished the ethernet cables down. Then in the crawlspace I shoved my arm (sometimes all the way up to the my shoulder) to pull the cables through and then I routed them back towards the main crawlspace access which is in the floor of the closet in the guest room. We put in a central PoE switch near that hatch and then it was a simple matter of crimping the cables so we could plug in and power up.
It wasn’t the pleasantest job: lots of dust in my eyes as I had to belly crawl over to the north access hatch with a mallet in one hand so I could dislodge it, as we discovered shortly after the the teak floor was refinished that it had become sealed shut. I needed to get all the way over to that point as we used the opportunity not just to run new ethernet under the house, but also to run a new single-pair for our landline. Yes, we are a bit old school and during the winter months we often have terrible line noise on the circuit AT&T provides, but cell coverage isn’t always great halfway up a mountain, so we still have a POTS line with an actual answering machine. Said phone setup also doubles as an intercom of sorts as we have handsets in the outbuildings as well as the main house.
After we had fished a new wire from the patch panel in the utility closet into the crawlspace, I scooted my way back through the crawlspace. As I went I gathered up all the old phone wires that strung throughout. When the previous owners lived here they for some weird reason had multiple phone jacks in just about every room. My office alone close to twenty RJ11 and a half a dozen coaxial jacks that were patched over when it was repainted. We’ve managed to get rid of just about all of them, although the master bathroom and bedroom still have about a half dozen. While the jacks are still visible, the wires are now gone, as I clipped and pulled them out as I moved my way back towards the waiting switch. As I went I loosely zip-tied the new cables (ethernet and phone) in place up off the floor.
One extra thing we tackled was re-running the line from the great room roof. Our antenna which provides our PTP network uplink is up there and winter storms had pulled the conduit loose. A few weeks before the crawlspace work, I tidied up things up there and then, instead of running the cable over into Agent Smith’s office, we instead just dropped it in to the crawlspace over by the front door which simplified things greatly.
Here are couple pics of what I mean. All of the stuff in those conduits was no longer in use, so I just removed it and tossed the old conduit on the trash heap.
After everything was done and the new APs configured we were left with yet another pile of icky wires along with one very desiccated rat corpse that I pulled out of the crawlspace. I refrained from taking a picture of the dead rat, but it was missing a leg which explains the nasty smell we had a few years ago. (By the way cooking up a pot of French Onion Soup is a great way to alleviate the smell of something dead under your house!)
So another item checked off the list. An added bonus is that the remaining now defunct wall jacks in our bedroom and bath will be easy to deal with as there are just short lengths of wire attached to them. And remove them we will once we are out of county’s bad books and able to revamp our bathroom (which requires permits which we can’t get because of the deal with the devil.) Update on that whole mess will be coming soon as we have actually finally made some forward progress…..after four fracking years.