By Bob Catanzarite
Here are some details that will be useful in the use of pull cords.
The idea of using pull cords is to install a cord or a string or a rope during the rough-in stage instead of installing your actual cables. Then later on after your walls have been put up and you home is finished you can use these pull cords to pull your actual cables through the walls.
I used pull cords to run from the outlet box, up along side the wall stud, through a 1 1/8" hole in the header plate and up into the attic where the pull cord was well secured to a stud so that it wouldn't inadvertently get pulled back down into the wall as the home construction proceeded. See the figure below.
Securing the pull cord to the outlet box down below and the stud above is important to insure that it wouldn't inadvertently get pulled back down into the wall as the home construction proceeded. To secure it to the stud above I wrapped and tied it around the stud. To secure the pull cord to the outlet box I wrapped and tied the pull cord to the box. See the photo below.
You might want to find a better way to secure the pull cord to the outlet box than what I have showing above. When the drywallers cut the opening for the outlet box in the drywall they could cut the part of the cord looping over the top of the box. A better idea would keep the cord INSIDE the box.
Do this for every outlet box you have installed. Now with your pull cords in place you can set back and wait until your home is finished.
After you home is finished you can use the pull cords to pull your actual cable through the walls. Start by setting up your cables onto a cable dispensing reel.
When it comes to pulling your cables as a bundle of several cables together an indispensable device to have is a Cable Reel. Several manufacturers make Cable Reels that you can buy and some of them go by some name other than a Cable Reel. See the Links Page for some of these manufacturers. Shown below are just two of the many different styles you can buy.
I chose to make my own Cable Reel. My CAT5 cable came in boxes instead of reels which seems to be the norm. Because I needed two of these 1000' CAT5 boxes and my RG6 cable came on 1000' wooden spools I was able to rig up my own form of a Cable Reel using these with the addition of a simple broom stick. Click on the drawing below to see a larger view of this makeshift Cable Reel.
This worked great for me for just the price of a broomstick. I did have to transfer some of the CAT5 cable that I bought in the cable boxes to a spare wooden reel that I scrounged up so that I had three places for CAT5 cable to come from. The key thing here is that you need a Cable Reel that will dispense enough of all the cable types that you will be pulling. In my case I was pulling three CAT5's and two RG6U Quad Shield cables. So my Cable Reel had to dispense these three CAT5's and two RG6U Quad Shield cables. The one drawback to this makeshift Cable Reel was that it was rather awkward to move around from one place to another.
Securing the pull cord to the cable bundle is important. You are likely to be pulling rather hard on the pull cord and the last thing you want is the pull cord separating from the cable bundle while you are pulling things through the wall.
The photo above on the left shows how I secured the pull cord to the cable bundle. I stripped off about 2" of the jacket and shielding from the 2 coax cables. I then wrapped the pull cord around the center leads of the coax a couple of times and then bent over the center leads to form a sort of hook in the center lead. Then tightly wrapped the pull cord tightly around the cable bundle several times along about 6" of it's length. The last step is to wrap electrical tape around the whole thing as shown above in the photo on the right. Start wrapping the tape on to the pull cord by wrap from left to right. This ensures that the pull cord is in tight contact with the cable bundle over a good 6" of its length. The wrapping action will tend to make the pull cord hold tighter to the cable bundle as you pull on the cord. Look closely at the photo on the left. You'll notice the pullcord making a couple of twists around the center leads of the two coax cables. This is done because coax cables typically allow much higher pulling forces than do the CATx cables. See the the table on the Reference page for pulling force specifications. And having the wrapped cable bundle come to a smooth taper near the pullcord as shown in the photo on the right will help prevent the whole thing from getting caught and snagging on things as your pulling it through the walls.
The photos below show how the pull cord is used to pull the cable bundle into the outlet box and then up into the wall. For photo clarity, these photos are taken without the drywall that will normally be hung up already.