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Do I really have to fasten interior-wall electrical wire to a stud to keep it from moving?

I have some plaster walls in my house and I am attempting to add an outlet to one of the rooms. Basically I plan to fish some romex from the attic into one of the rooms (behind a plaster wall) and add a box / outlet from there. My only concern is making sure that the job is up to code. Do I have to staple the romex to the studs behind the wall, etc. or is it OK to just let it hang down.

Obviously I want to avoid having to knock holes in the wall, but overall safety is my primary concern so I'd be happy to do it if it means not burning down my house because i was being lazy.

  • Is it safe? Probably, I have run electrical between walls without attaching to wall joists, just making sure that the outlet box is secure. Is it to code for your area? I wouldn't know. Some older buildings were framed with a 2x4 between the joists with holes drilled for electrical and plumbing to pass through so the whole thing may be a moot point. Get a good flashlight and see if you can see all the way down to the bottom before you cut a hole in the wall :) – maple_shaft Jun 18 '12 at 18:49
  • This Answer might help. – Tester101 Jun 18 '12 at 20:16
  • yeah, I've dropped a weighted string from top to bottom in several places with zero obstruction so I am pretty sure that the wall is completely empty. – A.R. Jun 18 '12 at 20:20

It's not up to code to leave the wire free. Stapling it to the center of the stud ensures that a nail for something like a picture won't hit the wire (as long as you know this code and don't try to drive a long nail right next to a stud). No one but yourself is likely to ever know this is wrong, and given the age of the home, it's sure to have a lot of other code violations under today's codes since they change over time.

So to answer your question, my recommendation is to install the staples near the top plate, the J-box, and every 3 feet or so in the middle. But I wouldn't lose much sleep if I heard that someone didn't do this in your situation. Just make sure you don't have any hidden junction boxes or connections made outside of a box since that would be a much bigger issue. And also, don't overload any circuits by adding too many outlets.

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    NEC 334.30(B)(1) allows Nonmetallic-sheathed cable to be unsupported when fished though "finished buildings or structures and supporting is impracticable." – Tester101 Jun 18 '12 at 20:20
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    I learn something new every day. +1 to your answer in the dup post. Thanks @Tester101. – BMitch Jun 18 '12 at 21:37
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    @Tester101 This should be an answer. – maple_shaft Jun 19 '12 at 2:10

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