Recently went in my crawlspace to fix some plumbing issues and noticed that all the electrical seems to be just hanging, with some on the ground. I'm fairly certain that this is nowhere close to code, but what I want to know is how dangerous this is?

Essentially, is this something I need to take care of immediately (and should have been caught by my inspector when I bought the house) or is this something that could be taken care of when I'm not quite so strapped for cash?

crawlspace - white and yellow cable are both live 120v

crawlspace - another angle of live 120v wiring

  • it's definitely not ideal or compliant, but definitely not an emergency either. My big non-code concern would be flooding/rotting and chew-happy animals. What I would do (and to be clear this is not adequate) is halfway drive a few nails into the joist at a downward angle and hang the wiring with loose zip-ties to get it off the ground until it can be addressed properly. – dandavis Sep 16 '19 at 20:50
  • What gauge are these cables? – ThreePhaseEel Sep 16 '19 at 23:55
  • ...one more "home inspector" that is a useless excuse - takes your money, doesn't bother to do a through inspection, very likely won't be paying for their lack of doing the job right, will just be going on to scam others. A pattern I've seen far too often. Perhaps you can get their fee back in small claims court, at least... – Ecnerwal Sep 17 '19 at 3:57

You can run NM cable (the official term for Romex, which is a brand name) in a crawl space either ALONG the SIDES of the floor joists, or THROUGH them (i.e. fed through drilled holes). But you cannot just staple it TO the bottom of the joists. Since that may not be an option here, the next choice is to nail small "runner" boards to the bottoms of the joists, then staple the cable to those. The cable must be protected from being grabbed or pulled. But if those cables are now too short to do that and you need to replace them anyway, I would opt to drill and pull.

enter image description here

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  • can you do that running board version in a basement too? or like that but with armored cable? I'm sistering a joist and it would be nice not to have to re-run... – dandavis Sep 17 '19 at 3:13

Aside from what else has been said, the #1 practical priority is to staple the cables so that if cables are yanked on, the staples catch the force and it damages the cable there. You don't want it yanking it out of wherever it's connected, because that could cause all sorts of additional problems in places that are harder to access.

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It's definitely wrong, the danger lies in getting tangled in it and pulling out connections in whatever boxes the runs go to. You can probably bet that if this is what you can see it's not secure anywhere else. Could also be an issue if you get any water down there as that is not rated for that.

I'm not 100% on code in a crawlspaces but I think it's supposed be run between the joists, but I don't see enough slack on all of them to run it correctly. To do it right you'll either have to re-run the circuits or add junction boxes so you can add some length. In the interim you could staple it to the joists to get it up and out of the way.

Yes, your inspector should have made a note of this.

Also, that's probably not all of the electric, what you're seeing is everything done by previous homeowners.

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  • Alright, thanks. I know that at least the flat white and yellow romex is live, but the smaller round romex seems to be old wiring like you said. – AOTA Sep 16 '19 at 17:20
  • @AOTA the "small round" romex as you call it is probably phone line/data line/low voltage for doorbell or thermostat. – Gunner Sep 16 '19 at 17:35

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