March 11, 2010
| by Arlen Schweiger
If only this project were as simple as cleaning up the wiring and the enclosure.
This entire project is a good lesson in what not to do as an integrator. Much like a relief pitcher coming out of the bullpen, Toronto-based custom electronics professional Zedware got the call from a friend of the homeowner, whose builder had partnered with an integrator to provide phone, cable TV, networking, multiroom audio and a main-floor surround-sound media room.
The original integrator was knocked out of the game after only a few innings, and the first relief pitcher never got out of the bullpen. Luckily, Zedware managed to get them out of a jam and close out this installation comeback victory.
“We had been the second company that had been called in to try and repair this,” says company president Jordan Hermant. “The first company that was contacted to take a look at it never showed up to the appointment. By the time we met the homeowners, what they needed most was the reassurance they would be taken care of and treated properly.”
What Went Wrong
Here’s some of the rocky play-by-play—we led off with the wiring—covering the original integrator’s outing, according to Hermant:
A structured wiring enclosure was installed in the basement. The good news is that it contained all the wiring. The bad news is the way everything was just jammed in there, so technicians Dwaine MacDonald and Steve Wasylyk went to work.
“The installed network wiring was run to a network switch that was just hanging by the wires in the box. Assorted splitters were all hanging out. There was a pile of equipment on the floor that was left from an unsuccessful attempt at installing a satellite system. There was a perfectly good On-Q structured wiring phone punchdown panel with an alarm bypass that was being used just to splice two phone wires together.”
There was a heap of wiring issues, including only one of the network jacks in the home working properly, poor cable TV signal at the displays, etc.
Speaker wire for the main floor den was supposed to be routed in the ceiling so speakers could be installed later on. “Never happened, although they told the homeowner that it was there,” he says. “That’s five in-ceiling speakers plus a sub. When the homeowners pointed this out after the ceilings and walls had been closed in and painted, the integrator offered to refund a portion of their payment. Instead, the integrator was made to reopen the walls and ceiling as required, run the wires and repair, reseal and repaint.”
The SpeakerCraft multiroom audio system wasn’t properly programmed. Keypad buttons didn’t match the sources they controlled, and didn’t effectively control the sources to which they were connected.
No universal remote was offered for the A/V equipment in the main floor den. “The homeowner was trying to juggle separate remotes for the receiver, cable box, TV, DVD player, Xbox 360 and AppleTV,” notes Hermant. With all the remotes lined up, “there was hardly any room on the fireplace mantle for family photos.”
When Zedware got through with the repair work, the wiring panel was tidy; all jacks were labeled and functional; both wired and wireless Internet were zippy; and a single zero-loss commercial-grade cable TV splitter had been put to work as a replacement for the corresponding cable mess.
That’s a hard-earned save for Zedware and a victory for the homeowners.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.