My 1920s rowhouse has likely had a lot of not permitted, and not up to code, work done on it in the past. Last night I pulled off the baseboard in the dining room, which is one of the few rooms with multiple 3-prong electrical outlets. The baseboard was covering a sizable gap between where the floor (both the 3/4" hardwood and subfloor) and lathe and plaster walls meet. In spots I can see the wall studs and floor joists. This was not that surprising to me.

What surprised me was that the romex electrical cable was run in this gap and stapled to whatever was available (studs, joists, and subfloor) there was no conduit or anything else to protect the cable from nails/screws, although nailing into the area would be hard.

Is this to code in the US? Was it ever to code in the US? How ridiculously unsafe is it?

Can I continue with my plan to rip up the hardwood floor and replace it with an engineered floor, or do I need to address the wiring first?

  • Is there enough space to wedge some 1/2" EMT into that gap? Oct 5, 2017 at 22:40
  • @ThreePhaseEelthrough maybe, it probably depends on how thick of a floor I go with. What is the OD of 1/2" conduit?
    – StrongBad
    Oct 5, 2017 at 23:40
  • First source I found indicates 0.706"... Oct 5, 2017 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


Normaly the romex is pulled through a hole in the bottom plate for the wall. As long as the hole is 1-1/4" back or the wire is 1-1/4" back it could be legal no conduit required. If less than 1-1/4" a nail plate would need be used to prevent a screw or nail from being driven into the cable. If the hole is in front of the wall (wasn't sure) I would move it back into the wall ,the other choice would be to add a short piece of conduit 6" above the floor to protect the wire. Per NEC 334.15.B. 6" above floor EMT, schedule 80 PVC, rigid or Inc.

  • The cable from the first outlet is fished through the wall down the 12" to the floor where it comes out at the bottom plate. It then runs parallel to the bottom plate, but on the outside so there are no holes, around the entire perimeter of the room. When it gets to the last outlet, it goes back into the walls and up to the outlet.
    – StrongBad
    Oct 5, 2017 at 17:39
  • That's not good. That really needs to be re routed in the wall or under the floor in any case but a good time to do it while replacing the floor. I guess you could put it in conduit on the surface of the wall but that would be more work and look like crap.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 5, 2017 at 17:59

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