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I want to install some closet rod supports for a double rod closet. My studs appear to be spaced every 16". The rod supports need to be drilled into the studs at heights of 42" and 84". The house is a ranch, this is being done on the ground floor.

The other side of the wall is a laundry room with washer and dryer outlets. I'm worried that the electrical for the laundry may be fished through the studs, and that when I drill into the studs for the rod supports, I might hit the electrical wires.

Is there any way to check how the wires are arranged behind the wall, besides tearing the wall down? Some extra info:

I'm in New York. The wall dividing the closet and laundry room used to be an exterior wall - the room with the closet is an extension from 2009.

Thanks, picture attached.

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  • Other things to worry about hitting with screws are water supply pipes and drains for the washer and the exhaust vent for the dryer, – Jim Stewart Mar 1 '17 at 1:49
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The wire can go at any hight really.

You can pull out the outlet to see where the wire goes though that doesn't stop it from making a weird turn a few feet down. But if it is fished from above/below then the wire will be hanging loose in the space between the studs and you should only be drilling into the stud and be safe.

If they went through the studs you can hope they put a metal plate on the stud to stop you from drilling through the wire. Though with an older house or in an addition where the drywall on the other side wasn't touched, or a contractor who skimped on materials that's not a certainty.

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    If the hole is drilled 1-1/4" from the stud surface no plate is required. This is not skimping. – Ed Beal Feb 28 '17 at 17:04
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Your situation isn't unique, and any wall is likely to have wiring in it at various heights. It should be centered horizontally, so if you limit your fastener depth to about 1-1/4" you should be safe. If that's not deep enough you're probably not using the right fasteners. Wires and pipes that are close to the stud face should already be protected with steel plates.

Of course, you can purchase a non-contact voltage detector to trace the wiring, but this shouldn't be necessary.

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Some stud finders have a mode to detect wiring, although I've found them to generally be a bit lacking in correctness. You can definitely try one, although I wouldn't take the lack of a result to be a result itself.

If there is wiring run through the studs, it should be run through the middle of the stud. Given that the stud is 3.5" wide (assuming 2x4 construction), this means the hole for the wiring should be located 1.75" from either side. Allow for a 3/4" hole, and the wiring may extend to 1 3/8" from either side. If it was any closer, there should be a metal plate covering that area of the stud, preventing (or discouraging) you from drilling any further.

However, your closet used to be the exterior of the house, so the builders may have run the wire farther back from the laundry room wall rather than centering it in the stud. Of course, there was probably sheathing and siding attached previously, so you're likely OK.

Were you the owner for the 2009 addition? There may be some drawings, or pictures taken of the work, which may show where the wiring runs, which would provide a definitive answer without opening up the wall.

  • Code specifies 1-1/4" from the surface not 1-3/8. – Ed Beal Feb 28 '17 at 17:02
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Since this is a closet you could drill holes next to or between the studs where you want to put the brackets and look with a borescope. Use push-in plugs to seal the holes.

Is there insulation in the wall cavity? You could use a hole saw on a drill and cut larger holes and "temporarily" seal them with larger diameter plugs. These come in plastic or metal.

If there are fire code requirements mandating restoring holes in drywall, you could use the drywall plugs you cut out to patch the hole. Drywall clips make repair a snap. I like these https://www.zoro.com/hyde-drywall-clips-12-in-pk50-09038/i/G2120492/?gclid=CjwKEAiA3NTFBRDKheuO6IG43VQSJAA74F77zmJ-nZRgun_gGBm12qEIHAwo1D-ZZ9H0KDzTMdu0QBoCXy3w_wcB I think there are ones for 5/8" thick drywall too. Three clips on a round hole works great.

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