If you don’t know a coax cable from an aux cord of an electrical wire, learning how to splice a coax cable might be enough to make your head spin. When you splice a cable, you’re combining two cables together.
Coax is short for coaxial cable, and there are many reasons you may need to splice one for your home or business. Commonly, wires need to be lengthened, shortened, or repaired. Splicing a coax cable is a DIY project most people can do on their own, which is helpful when you need to connect cables quickly to keep your business running. However, if you’re at all worried about your safety, or if you are unsure of how to splice the cable correctly, consider hiring a qualified electrician.
Continue reading below to learn about splicing a coax cable with or without a coax cable connector.
What is Coax Cable?
First, let’s go over a quick rundown of exactly what a coax cable is. Coax cables are a type of insulated cable used mainly for data, video, and audio connections. You’ll find coax cables in your home or business where you need to connect the internet, phones, and TVs.
Coax cables are usually black or white with rounded metal connectors on the end. These connectors are called F connectors.
When you look inside, the cable itself has many layers. Typically, it starts with an inner copper core that transmits data quickly and efficiently. Surrounding the wire, you’ll find outer insulation, a conductive shield, an outer conductor, and a protective outer layer. The protective outer layer is the shiny white or black you see when you look at the cable in your business.
Coax cables are designed to reduce susceptibility to interference and damage.
How to Splice Coax Cable
Fortunately, if you find yourself needing to splice a coax cable, the process is relatively simple. Follow these steps below:
- Gather your materials. You’ll need a clean cloth, a coax cable stripper or a sharp knife, two coax compression connectors, a coax compression crimper tool, and a barrel connector.
- Determine what type of coax cable you’re working with. Coax cables come in different radio grades or radio frequencies. The most common types are RG-6, RG-11, and RG-59.
- Make sure both ends of the cable you’ll be connecting are clean and dry. This is particularly important if you are working with a broken underground wire. Even if your cables appear clean, it’s a good idea to wipe them down with a clean cloth and thoroughly dry them before working on the cables.
- Use a coax cable stripper that’s compatible with the type of cable you’re working with to strip both ends of the cable. You’ll need to first strip the outer jackets and then the inner jackets. This will take off the outer layers and expose the wire. If there is any wire mesh left after stripping, fold it back away from the wire. Alternatively, you can use a knife to strip the cable, but a compatible cable stripper is both safer and easier. With a cable stripper, you’ll reduce the chance of damaging the wire, and you’ll ensure that it’s stripped to the correct length. Of course, for more detailed instructions on stripping, be sure to follow the instructions on your particular stripper.
- Put a coax compression connector on each end of the wires you just stripped. If you’re connecting two cables together, you’ll need two compression connectors. When inserting the connectors, be careful not to damage the wire.
- Use a coax compression crimper tool to clamp the compression connectors onto the wires. This helps them stay snug and secure. Once you’re done crimping, you shouldn’t be able to pull the cable out of the connector.
- Use a barrel connector to connect the two cables. Simply screw the barrel connector onto each end.
When you’re finished, you should have a securely connected coax cable that is weatherproof.
Can You Splice a Coax Cable Without a Connector?
If you don’t have a connector or hardware store handy and you need to splice a coax cable, it is possible to do so without a connector. However, it’s easier (especially for someone without experience) to splice a cable with a connector.
Here’s how to splice a coax cable without a connector:
- Follow steps two, three, and four above.
- Gather your materials. You’ll need a clean cloth, a sharp knife or a coax cable stripper, and electrical tape.
- Twist the exposed copper wires around each other to create a connection. You may need wire cutters or needle nose pliers to clip back or clamp down any extra wire. Gently tug the wires to ensure they are well connected.
- Completely cover the connected wire in electrical tape. Wrap the tape around the wires multiple times to ensure they are well covered. Continue wrapping the tape so that it covers any exposed insulation.
- If you have wire mesh that you folded back when you stripped the wire, wrap that back on top of the electrical tape. Then, cover the wire mesh with more electrical tape. Wrap the cable in multiple layers of tape to ensure it’s well-protected and insulated.
If you splice your cable correctly without a connector, you will also end up with a weatherproof cable.
Splicing Coax Cable in Commercial Buildings
Whether you need to lengthen a cable or quickly repair a break to keep your business up and running, splicing a coax cable for your business is a relatively simple process. We recommend using a cable connector for a strong and safe connection. However, in a pinch, you can also split your cables using nothing more than a sharp knife and some electrical tape.