Installation questions

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eli0918

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Oct 19, 2005
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Installation questions - update

Hello all - I am hoping you can answer some questions for me before an installer comes out later this week.
Basically, this is my first time getting DirecTV service so forgive me if some of my questions seem elementary to you all.

Anyway, here they are:

1) I have seen DirecTV FAQs that say they can use existing coax cables in your home... does that mean they can use existing cables from a previous DirecTV installation, or do they mean the basic coax cables that are already in my house from like Comcast Cable or whatever other companies may be out there?

If they can use the regular coax cables already in my walls, how do they get access transmit over them? I am in a condo unit so I guess there is a separate closet outside and then a small box in one of my closets which I know the regular cable company had to get into hook me up (too bad that cable company sucks).

2) If they can't use my existing wiring, how do they get the wiring to all the different rooms? My patio where the dish is going to be installed is on one floor, but the two other rooms I want DirecTV in are upstairs. Again, as I am in a condo there is no crawlspace below, and I have no idea what type of access he might be able to get through the attic upstairs, but I doubt it covers my entire space.

3) I keep seeing notes about DVRs requiring two inputs in order to be able to watch one show while recording another, or to record two shows at the same time. I guess that means even if they can use my existing wiring that I am still screwed because I need two inputs?

4) Last question... if they have to run wiring through my walls, how difficult is it to do in an attached condo/townhome?

Basically, when it comes down to it, my main concern is that I don't want a million cables running through the middle of my house. Especially when it's such a long way from my patio to the rooms upstairs.

Any answers you guys can provide would be great. Thanks!
 
damaged

damaged

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jun 22, 2005
2,605
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South of Heaven
1) They can use the existing coax so as long as it is RG6, they _could_ try it if the coax is RG59, if it's a dual lnb only, and the run of RG59 is very short, (but it is STRONGLY recommended you do NOT use RG59 especially for multi-sat setups, really RG59 should be avoided for satellite period), but there will be significant signal loss (possibly total loss) depending on the length/quality of the existing runs and connections, also there can not be any kind of cable attenuators, amps, or splitters on the coax transporting a satellite signal.

Assuming the coax is up to spec, they would find the closet and connect the dish to that, also if the existing runs are run to wall plates, the coax connection to the back of the wall plates must be correct, in cable, they often only use the center of the coax for wall plates, and the outer wire mesh in the coax isn't connected correctly for satellite.

2) They usually just punch a hole in the exterior wall by the dish, then staple to the wall the runs to each stb.

3) Yes DVRs want two inputs if you want full functionality, you can either run 2 seperate coax runs to each tuner (the usual way) or you can invest in a stacker/destacker (expensive) and you'd only need one run to the stb, then a dual destacker would be needed for each dvr giving you 2 inputs from one coax/dual-destacker, of course you can just use one input, but you loose some of the functionality.

4) Chances are if you request runs that require fishing through _interior_ walls or custom runs, you will have to pay out of pocket to the installer, with the free install they will just punch holes in your exterior walls(near the dish) and staple each run to each stb (sloppy).

Hope that helps.
 
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eli0918

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Oct 19, 2005
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Is there any way to tell if my coax is RG6 before they get here? This is a brand new condo built in 2005 if that makes a difference.

...and when you say find the closet, do you mean the closet outside, or the wall plate in my closet in my bedroom?

The closet in my bedroom is a fair distance away from where the dish will be placed, and seeing as I am on the 3rd and 4th floor, it's not something the tech can easily get around with a big old ladder, running wires outside on my walls.

If it's the outdoor closet... sheesh... that thing is even farther.

When it comes down to it, if they end up having to staple wires to my interior walls, I will only get one box set up on the TV closest to my balcony and that's it. The wife would kill me if I had tons of wires running all over the place.

I'd gladly play the fees for them to fish the wires through the walls if it's possible... but I just don't see how they'd do it. I am in an attached townhome on the third and fourth floor.

Sigh... I wish I had looked into all of this prior to getting my hopes up and buying all the equipment. If I can't get DirecTV throughout the whole house I will be bummed.
 
damaged

damaged

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jun 22, 2005
2,605
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South of Heaven
Usually the coax has printing on the side of the insulation, it will say RG6 or whatever it is, if no markings, the installer can tell, I think they can run a sweep test or something on it to see if the cable can handle the frequencies used by satellite signals, and I read on here the RG6 is a tiny bit thicker, but I am not sure about that, since you say it's new runs, chances are it is RG6.

When I say closet, I am referring to the area where the cable company goes to hook into the townhouses distribution panel, it could be inside or outside, I am of course unable to be specific without knowing how it is ran etc, also I am no installer, nor am I a satellite professional, either way the installer should be able to work that out.

If you wanted to pay for custom internal runs, they might try and use the existing cable runs as a way to fish through the new coax, frankly, that would be their problem if you're paying extra.

If you pay for a custom run/install, make sure everything works and is installed how you want it (since you are paying extra for it) before signing off on the install, don't be afraid to refuse signing it if it is not what you asked for.

You could mount the dish on your balcony in a bucket with the mounting pole in cement, and run the lines from the balcony, rather than the townhouses distribution panel, they have these thin cables that can be fed through a window or sliding glass door if they can't drill through your balcony exterior wall (would be at extra cost too for the special flat cable).

Good luck hope it works out, btw, let us know what you decided and how it worked out (or not).
 
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wobbie

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 22, 2004
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eli01989... you rcable feed to your condo more than likely is fed from the MDU box outside of the buliding that feeds all the units. Or the cable company is taking one seperate line to a location in or on your unit that is going to a distribution point for your unit. I would recommend that you look in the phone book and find a local retailer and see if he would come out for a sight survey and estaimate any custom work that you may need. Chances are if you call DirecTV or an 800# your goig to get someone with very little experience or someone not willing to do the work. Good luck, keep us posted.
 
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eli0918

Thread Starter
Member
Oct 19, 2005
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Any of you guys ever hear of Ironwood Communications out in California (Bay Area to be exact)? That's who is doing my install.
 
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wobbie

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 22, 2004
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Run..... run very fast. I've heard horror stories about these guys on other forums. I would suggest contacting a local retailer or dealer, better service after the sale.
 
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eli0918

Thread Starter
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Oct 19, 2005
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Well... I guess I have to add my horror story then... because they missed their first appointment a week ago (never showed up, never called) only to reschedule me for today. Had my wife stay home since I couldn't take off of work and wanted to get the earliest available appointment... well they said between 1-5 PM... even called me 3 times (automated message) at work to remind me... and then they don't show up. They call twice after 5:15 PM when we had already left to go pick up some dinner and said they got lost.

Why they all of a sudden realized they were lost after the time period was up, I do not know.

Sigh... I am thinking I will return the equipment I bought to Best Buy and go through another retailer that can maybe guarantee me they won't contract my job out to people who have no respect at all for other people's time.
 
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dishjockey

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 2, 2004
115
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Welcome to direc's new installation dept.
10 to 1 even if they come out they won't do your install because it's to difficult.
 
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eli0918

Thread Starter
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Oct 19, 2005
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Well, I'm pretty annoyed right now. I called DirecTV to tell them of my troubles with the installation company and they weren't very helpful.

I asked if I could work with another company and they said they'd make sure I don't get the same technician.

I'm like, I don't care about the technician as chances are the rest aren't any better.

Then they say the earliest appointment is Thursday of next week... I tell them I can't do it as it's too busy at work and I cannot take yet another half day off of work for this. So as I watch yet another week of Sunday Ticket go down the drain the guy come back on the line and says that the next appointment after Thursday is November 23rd.

I just about laughed out loud. He said he will put a note that if possible it should be escalated to an earlier date... but I doubt I'll stick around long enough to find out.

At this point, can anyone recommend an installer in my area (Bay Area, CA - Dublin to be exact if that means anything to anyone here) that I can use independently of DirecTV?
 
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dishjockey

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 2, 2004
115
0
Where you at Doc this one is in your neck off the woods.
 
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wobbie

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 22, 2004
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Eli... check the phone book, as I said earlier stay away from the 800 numbers. I am sure that there is a reputable retailer in your area.
 
J

Jumpmaster

New Member
Oct 23, 2005
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Pittsburgh, PA
Wait a second. Think about your own job. If you deal with the public whether a doctor, lawyer, mechanic, desk clerk, etc. and over the course of time, despite how hard you try and how professional you are sure to have a few customers who will complain! I know you realize that the few unsatisfied customers will quickly make themselves heard, while the hundreds of satisfied ones will never open their mouth. Since Ironwood does most of the DirecTV installs, it follows then that you would hear some "horror" stories from them. Lastly, since there are so many Ironwood installers, it is likely true that a few are not up to par as would be the case in any other profession. In any case, since the local retailers are very small, you would NOT likely hear such horror stories from those so called "reputable retailers" though I could share many. I am an Ironwood installer and I am a professional installer!

Some installations can be relatively simple and some are quite difficult. We do our best to schedule our jobs for the day so as get as many customers served as possible while trying to maximize our own income. However, there are some days that things don't go as planned. I've read the posts above about not calling and not showing up which is something my Pittsburgh office does not tolerate (neither does DirecTV as they fine Ironwood for it).

I know for myself, if I'm running late, it's because I ran into a difficult install and have taken whatever time necessary to ensure a professional job. I did it for my last customer, and I'll do the same for you!

I had to chuckle at reading the above quote about "reputable retailers." I don't know how it is around the rest of the country but around here, the retailers do horrible work. Ironwood does QC on our work. Furthermore, Ironwood's directive to me is that if I touch a system, I own it ... which means even if I'm there to do a very low paying equipment swap, I must bring the system up to code, even if it means a total rebuild.

Also, "free installation" is for basic install, which means coax is hidden as best as possible, ran neatly, installed professionally, etc. but does not include wall fiche through condos. Seriously, think about it....What do you think an electrician would charge to come to such a home and to fiche cable into several rooms.... $750 ... $1,000... at least.

Ironwood does offer such service upon request and at extra charge of course. At every installation, the installer will do a site survey and explain the installation plan. If a homeowner is not not satisfied with the plan, they can reject it and hopefully come up with an appropriate alternative course of action.
 
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wobbie

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 22, 2004
569
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Jumpmaster, I meant no harm towards you. I just believe in staying local... I take my car to a local mechanic, go to a local doctor, use a local electrician and I made sure that I did some checking on the local retailer that installed my system three years ago. I'm just not a believer in calling 800# or internet purchases and then rolling the dice to see if I get an installer that is "up to par" to do work on my house. Heck people are more concerned about their mechanic then who is going to install a satellite system on the biggest investment they have. Eli, try to be home when the install is done.
 
J

Jumpmaster

New Member
Oct 23, 2005
4
0
Pittsburgh, PA
"Staying local" ... "internet purchases" ... believe it or not I don't beam down from the "internet" every morning or hitchike in from some ghetto every morning to get to work. I do 95% of my installs within 15 miles of my home. Ironwood hires installers in communities where they need them. I run into folks for whom I have completed installs just about every single day at grocery and retail stores. As hard as it may be for you to believe they still are able to watch TV, they don't duck me, and I don't them :)
 
M

mikedz4

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 15, 2004
714
9
which company does installations in most of ohio and all of west virginia? The install guy told me they are based out of findlay,ohio but i forget the company name.
 
J

Jumpmaster

New Member
Oct 23, 2005
4
0
Pittsburgh, PA
I know Ironwood's Pittsburgh office has several installers in the Morgantown area. I don't know who's in Findlay, OH.
 
techdood

techdood

SatelliteGuys Guru
Ironwood communications is bad in Sacramento also. They botched up an exhisting customer upgrading to international. The technician came and must have read the order wrong. He installed a single 18" with dual outs. When he realized he installed the wrong dish, his frustration must have eaten him up, he was looking at his mistake while installing the oval international dish. He gets one receiver working, but he couldn't pull in the internationals. This is where I come in. I found that some of his coax ends had shield strands wrapped around the center conductor, I was suprised how my uncle got signals at all. Replaced those and had troubles wondering why he wasn't pulling internationals myself. Come to find out the "professional" installer missed the point that my uncle is an upgrading customer. His exhisting dish was mounted on the other side of the house. Therefore he couldn't get internationals on that location, it would require a house wrap to hit the location where the international dish was installed. I couldn't complete my uncle's fix in one visit. Sometime between my visits Ironwood comes back again. Didn't do much, just determined that my uncle couldn't get Internationals without a new receiver. They still didn't realize that there are 2 locations where programming were being collected from the 101 orbital. So I come back and complete his installation. They were correct about the receiver not being capable to get Internationals, but they should have identified the dish on the other side of the house and attempt to feed the switched signals from the international dish. All in all, ended up fixing up my uncle myself with no other Ironwood techs to muck it up. I told my uncle to complain to Direct Tv about Ironwood communications. There is nothing good that comes out of hiring those monkeys. You will most likely end up calling an independent installer to clean up their mess.
To tie into the thread, If you have a question about a pending installation you should ask for a site survey first. Then once the pending installations are known, you can make your decisions regarding reservations to those small things like LOS locations, where coax will be installed, holes to be drilled, etc.
 
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eli0918

Thread Starter
Member
Oct 19, 2005
11
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Well Jumpmaster, I am glad to see you are very passionate about what you do for a living. I believe that you believe in your job and your own performance... so any chance you can come out and do my install? Hehe.

In all seriousness though - it does not seem that the folks in the office closest to me have the same values as you do when it comes to customer service.

Missing one appointment is one thing (even though they never called or anything) but to then miss the second one without so much as a call to say "hey we are running late, is that okay, or should we reschedule you for another time"... well that's not right. Well actually they did call... but after the window had passed where they were supposed to have shown up.

I am a customer service manager at a mid-sized company so I deal with lots of customers every day... and if I treated my customers the way Ironwood has, thus far, treated me, well, I would probably be out of a job.
 
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eli0918

Thread Starter
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Oct 19, 2005
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Well, it's official. My equipment goes back today or tomorrow to BestBuy.

I called Ironwood back to see about getting an install date within the next week and they said the closest available date was Nov 23rd. I explained that this simply wasn't good enough, seeing as I don't know whether or not I will be able to get the equipment installed upstairs and I only have six or seven days left to return it and get my money back.

They reiterated that it was the only date they had available, and I reiterated that they missed two appointments causing me to miss a full day of work and my wife to miss a half day, and they still said the best they could do was add me to a cancellation list.

Whoopdeedoo.

I called DirecTV afterwards and asked them what they could do to get me an earlier date and they pretty much said "nothing". They said they could put in an escalation request and that Ironwood would call me if they had anything available on a sooner date. I told the woman I spoke to that I had already done that and asked why it would be so difficult to find me another installer. She said they parse them based on zip code and implied that either they are the only choice or that they have no control over who actually does the job.

I said thanks, but no thanks and asked them to cancel my account... if I even had one, seeing as I never got a single receiver installed.

Truly one of the worst overall customer service experiences I have ever had. Enough so that I would rather go back to my gimpy cable company than talk to DirecTV or Ironwood any time soon.
 
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