Any and every building has a network of wires and cables crisscrossing through walls, floors, and ceilings throughout the structure. These wires are the backbone of communications in any building, providing lines and connections used for power outlets, phone jacks, Ethernet ports, and more.
This also includes connected equipment such as racks and cabinets, or anything being held in place by racks and cabinets such as fiber cassettes or Ethernet patch panels.
But there can be trouble when networks are wired incorrectly or simply inefficiently. Like most other construction work, there are legal codes that must be followed when running cabling and wiring. Ideally, there will also be documentation confirming this in case a building inspector drops in. A simple network wiring test is a fast and easy way to get all of that in order.
A network wiring test starts with something very simple: a visual inspection. Any trained professional capable of performing a network wiring test should know what to look for.
These professionals will know what is up to code and what is not. Glaring issues can be spotting with a simple glance while more subtle problems may require a more detailed examination. This can include finding tangled wires, making sure cable is run through conduit properly, checking cables for labels and other organization, and making sure all cables are properly grounded.
Some of these issues involve keeping cables organized neatly while others are in line with legal codes can shut a building down until they are fixed.
What Tools are Used for Network Wiring Tests?
While a visual inspection can identify obvious issues, a proper network wiring test will require an inspector to go a little deeper. Using a series of testing tools, the inspector can make sure all cables are working properly. If a cable quits working, that is a fairly obvious problem that anyone can notice quickly.
But a professional network wiring test will also make sure cables are working as well as they should. Wear and tear will get the better of all cables eventually and small bits of damage from environmental hazards such as extreme temperatures, water exposure, UV radiation (sunlight) exposure, and curious rodents can all damage cables and adversely affect performance.
There are many different types of testing tools out there but many of them perform the same basic function. A signal is sent through the cable and the test measures that signal as it goes from point A to point B, measuring the signal strength to check the cable performance level.
For example, a multimeter is commonly used to test copper lines, such as telephone or Ethernet cables, for factors like current, resistance, and voltage. Another type of tester is a tone generator, which examines the individual wires inside a telephone or Ethernet cable one-by-one and points out if one of those specific wires is having an issue.
These are just two basic examples of the many different tools that can be used during a network wiring test, but they are some of the most common ones used.
Do I Receive Documentation from a Network Wiring Test?
While this policy varies from company to company, anyone decent should send over the results of a network wiring test. The information gathered by an inspector is typically sent in as raw data, compiled into a readable report, and sent back to the customer.
Even if a network wiring test does not find anything inherently wrong, a report will still have numbers from the readouts taken so that proof of that is one file if a building inspector comes knocking.
If issues are found during the inspection, they should be pointed out by the assessment. This can include things that need to be fixed to get a building up to code or little organizational issues that could simply make the network run better. Whatever the case, most companies that perform network wiring tests should also provide services to fix or improve a network in whatever way is necessary.
Even if nothing is outright broken, organizing a network is always a good idea since it will make the job easier once something does break in the future.