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Category 5 cable installation

Cat 5 cable requires careful and precise installation to maximize efficiency and system performance.  Anything that kinks the cable or disturbs the precise alignment of the wire pairs inside the cable has the potential to create future performance problems.

Handle Carefully.  To avoid stressing conductors, limit pulling tension to 25 pounds or less as specified by the EIA/TIA-568A standard.  In addition,

  • Pull cables gradually and with constant tension, taking care not to crush or pinch bundles
  • Be particularly careful when pulling cables around corners, watching out for nails and sharp edges that could damage the insulation.
  • When cable lubricant is used, read instructions to be sure it is compatible with the cable's jacket material (PVC or FEP).
  • Do not step on Cat 5 cable during installation.

Support Carefully.  If cable supports crush or compress Category 5 cable, the conductor pairs stand a good chance being damaged.  To avoid this,

  • Use plastic stand-off cable staples rather than metal cable staples or staple guns.
  • Apply cable ties loosely, with random spacing.  Don't overtighten ties or install them at regular intervals.
  • Support horizontal cable bundles using broad supports like J-hooks or cable trays.  Avoid using narrow "bridle rings" since they tend to crush the delicate cables.

Terminate Carefully.  Improper terminations are another leading cause of Category 5 performance problems.  For proper termination,

  • Use the proper punch-down tool for the connector involved - either 110 or 66 style - and untwist the pairs no more than ½ inch to avoid crosstalk (unwanted signals that appear in one wire pair as a result of inductive coupling from other pairs).
  • Remove as little of the outer cable jacket as possible; the rule of thumb is 3 inches.
  • Match wire color codes at all connector blocks, outlets, and other hardware.


Besides taking care with cable, its supports, and termination procedures, following these do's and don'ts can help assure proper installation of Cat 5 cabling:

Do keep cable length from telecom closet to outlet (jack) within 295 feet (90 meters).

Do follow the grounding and bonding requirements established by the NEC, TIA standard 607, and equipment manufacturer specifications.  Proper grounding and bonding not only protects personnel and equipment from hazardous voltages, but also reduce the effects of electromagnetic interference (EMI) to and from the telecommunications network.

Do keep installation as neat as possible and document connections carefully.  This pays off later by simplifying system administration and maintenance.

Don't splice or repair damaged cables between the telecom closet and outlet locations.  Instead, pull a new cable if there's problem.

Don't lay data cables directly across ceiling tiles, grids, or fixtures.  Use cable tray or other methods to support the cables and keep them at least 6 inches away from fluorescent or HID light fixtures.

Don't bend Category 5 cable more tightly than eight times the cable diameters (a 2-inch bend radius).