I live in the Chicago, IL suburbs, and I've been told that I need BX wire to be up to code, both from a worker at Home Depot and from a friend who is an electrician.

However, I have only used Romex before, and it looks like there is already Romex wire running from my circuit box. Am I ok to continue use of Romex in my home?

I'm planning to add an overhead fan unit with a light to one of my bedrooms. The wires will be behind drywall.

  • Will the wire be exposed when the project is finished? Or will everything be covered with sheetrock? What state is this in? – JPhi1618 Sep 24 '19 at 15:02
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    The specific location will be necessary to know to answer this question, since different countries, and even localities like provinces, states, counties, or cities, may follow different rules. For example, in and around Chicago, NM-B (Romex) is not allowed even when not exposed AFAIK. If you would like to avoid this, you would need to contact the agency where you would get your electrical permit from and ask this question. – PhilippNagel Sep 24 '19 at 15:09
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    I just asked for location because I've only known BX to be required when the cable is exposed and needs to be protected. We have a few pretty experienced electrical guys that might know some exceptions. You say Home Depot, so I think we can assume this is in the US. – JPhi1618 Sep 24 '19 at 15:10
  • I updated to add location. If romex is not allowed even when not exposed, is it safe to assume the previous owner didn't follow code? – lucasvw Sep 24 '19 at 15:30
  • Depends on the suburb. Some far west suburbs can get away with romex. Some northwest and southwest suburbs require bx. You'll need to find code for your specific location. – Sam Sep 24 '19 at 15:36

If you went to a Home Depot very close to your house (in the same town) and they said that BX is required, I would take that seriously and research the finer points of that rule. A lot of the workers at home stores are not experts by any stretch, but they know what sells and what they have to stock, so there will be some truth to what they "know".

That said, your question illustrates perfectly why location is important, although I totally understand not wanting to give out more info that is needed. After a little research into Chicago, it looks like you would have to tell us your exact location in order to weed through the various versions of codes that suburbs have adopted, and at that level of detail, a question is considered off topic because it's not likely to be helpful to anyone else.

It seems that Chicago is one of the places that requires metal conduit for residential wiring. From what I can tell, the city is very strict on it and as you move into the suburbs, they are various levels of strict to the point of allowing NM cable in some areas.

A term that comes up in code discussions is Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). It's important that you know what jurisdiction you are in so you can ask the right people about the codes in your area. The county code compliance office should be able to tell you quickly what is required and if you need a permit or if you're even allowed to do the work (in some cases a pro has to do the job).

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  • They do have the strictest requirements with regards to NM lucky the whole state is not under the same regs. Some of those same areas require an electrician for everything.+ – Ed Beal Mar 22 at 13:52

Only your AHJ can tell you, and you need to see him anyway to pull permits.

The advice of the Home Depot clerk is 100% unreliable. Managers of real electrical supply houses shop Home Depot for potential employees, and they hire away anyone who knows anything, which leaves the ignorant. The advice of the electrician is probably valid if he was clear which locality you were in.

Chicagoland is a patchwork of communities which DO NOT share one common set of rules. Your community makes its own rules, whether they coattail on Chicago electrical code or use NEC, and what their local amendments are. It is up to them.

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