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I’m continuing on updating my basement and have a few questions I hope someone can answer since I’ve had luck here before. The basement has a drop ceiling too.

  1. The lighting used to be tracking lighting that was plugged into an outlet above. I’m going to take the outlet outlet and then continue the circuit into new recessed lights. Can I just install a blank faceplate once I take the outlet out so that it’s like a junction box, or do I need an actual junction box?

  2. Since I’m running multiple lights now, I was wondering if in order to get wire to the next light a few joists down, do I have to drill a hole through the floor joists to run the wire or can I run it through the soffit which is only a foot away from where I would drill a hole? The irrational fear part of me doesn’t like drilling through joists because I think it makes it weaker but I didn’t think it would be okay or code to run it through the soffit. I also want to note that I have been stapling the wiring within 12in of th fixture and I know about no drilling within 2in if the top or bottom

  3. Is there any rule about running wire by ductwork? I’ve been running it under the duct and trying to space it so it isn’t touching it.

  • Going forward, please ask just one question per post. Please take the tour to better understand how this network operates. – isherwood Mar 20 at 18:52
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It's fine to put a blank cover on the box that currently has a receptacle for your lights.

You can bore holes in joists within certain guidelines, but you probably want to run your wiring above the drop ceiling stapled to the bottom of the joists. It's unacceptable to leave it unsecured above the ceiling tiles.

  • I’ll probably drill the holes in joist in most places. There are some where the joists are only 6 inches apart, so I can’t get my drill in to drill the holes and was going to staple to the bottom of the joists then – prchick1984 Feb 21 at 2:11
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In drop ceilings, having receptacles above the drop ceiling is controversial, and many view it as a violation of Code. This is one of the most likely Code segments to be subject to local amendment, either affirming or prohibiting the practice.


The outlets you are removing had to have been originally installed in a junction box. You are welcome to turn this into a plain junction box by replacing the receptacle with a blank cover. If it is some gimpy arrangement, fix it now.


Joists are in tension in the bottom half, and in compression in the top half. A great deal of study has shown that small holes in structural members do not weaken them by more than rounding error, as long as they are not near an edge. In fact this study only looked at holes near edges, because ones near the middle aren't worth looking at. If you look at World War II airplane construction or modern welded bridges, there are many rather large holes in structural members, for weight!

That said, above drop ceilings I am rather fond of EMT metal conduit, because it is fire resistant, easy to work and grounded. You can run it below the joists because it is inherently protected from damage. However you use a different wire: THHN individual wires rather than cable. Cable is allowed, just a big pain. Stranded THHN is downright a pleasure to work with.


If the ductwork gets warm, you may need to derate the electrical cable. "Not touching" is not quite enough, it needs 1/2" or so. Again a good way to gap distances between support (without getting too close) is EMT conduit on spacers if needed. EMT is also allowed to be used with cable strictly as armor for the cable (and if you use it to span some disrance, awesome)... and in that case you can enter and exit the conduit at will, without a junction box.

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