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My electrician had to cut drywall on the back side of a wall that has a new electrical panel mounted. The back side is the kitchen (the panel is facing into the living room). The feeder and a bunch of existing circuits came from above. The electrician wanted to notch it out of a structural beam, but I didn't want that much damage to the beam.

See pictures below for what it looks like right now. I don't want to just put some drywall over here, because somebody in the future could screw into it and hit the 100A feeder or any of the other circuits. I'm thinking of putting a wood cover over the vertical wall piece, and some drywall to cover the ceiling. I figured if I leave the screws exposed it might be clear that this is an access panel with something behind it, and they shouldn't screw into it. I also thought about putting some sheet metal behind it, but I'm not sure how thick it would have to be to prevent nails and screws from penetrating it and hitting the wires.

Two questions: - what should I do for the vertical part of the wall - How can I make a good transition from the drywall in the ceiling to the vertical access door.

Overview

Vertical wall Ceiling close-up Side view

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    What in the world are those un-jacketed black and white twisted pair cables? They look like they exit from the the power mains box. – Michael Karas Oct 12 at 21:56
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I think your idea of a wood panel isn't bad, but I would go the extra mile here:

  1. Buy a nicer board, a couple of basic hinges, and a knob
  2. Paint the mounted opening white and fix your drywall
  3. Cut your board to be large enough to cover the opening and paint it white
  4. Attach the knob and hinges, then mount to the opening on the side closest to the wall

It looks like a cabinet, but if you slap a simple label of "Electrical" on it, nobody will attempt to use it to hang things, etc. A mere board may be confused for a bulkhead.

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Victorian construcion typically puts a cabinet style door behind tub faucets, so they can be easily changed. But then, tub faucets came to exist in the Victorian age.

They would fit a lovely little cabinet door on the vertical, with a latch. The hinge would be on the left, to permit this door to swing open and allow the ceiling hole to be accessed.

Quite likely they would do the same with the ceiling hole.

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The rule for steel plates is 1/16" (1.6mm)

The general rule in the NEC for steel plates used to protect wiring from damage is that they need to be 1/16" (1.6mm) or thicker. In other words, you need a piece of sheet steel 15 gauge or thicker in order to provide adequate protection to these cables. This rule is set out in NEC 300.4, specifically 300.4(D) in your case (exceptions omitted as they are not relevant here):

(D) Cables and Raceways Parallel to Framing Members and Furring Strips. In both exposed and concealed locations, where a cable- or raceway-type wiring method is installed parallel to framing members, such as joists, rafters, or studs, or is installed parallel to furring strips, the cable or raceway shall be installed and supported so that the nearest outside surface of the cable or raceway is not less than 32 mm (1¼ in.) from the nearest edge of the framing member or furring strips where nails or screws are likely to penetrate. Where this distance cannot be maintained, the cable or raceway shall be protected from penetration by nails or screws by a steel plate, sleeve, or equivalent at least 1.6 mm (¹⁄₁₆ in.) thick.

  • these wires are not parallel – Jasen Oct 12 at 21:37
  • @Jasen -- "parallel to framing members" is the predominant case here, and the other sections of 300.4 that call for protective plates also call for the same minimum thickness – ThreePhaseEel Oct 13 at 0:12
  • It sure looks perpendicular to me. is there a special definition of parallel I'm missing? – Jasen Oct 13 at 1:52
  • I mean the beam goes across and the wires go up. – Jasen Oct 13 at 1:59
  • @Jasen this is no different (to me) then wiring that crosses a crossbrace between studs – ThreePhaseEel Oct 13 at 4:41
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I don't suppose you want to remove the first layer of 1x2's, fix the ceiling as you would normally to and then add a register (yes, another one) vent to cover up the wall portion?

Just like the one I showed you yesterday...lol:

enter image description here

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    I wouldn't use a register grille for this -- would be more confusing than anything else – ThreePhaseEel Oct 12 at 21:36
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    @ThreePhaseEel LOL But nobody would nail through it.. Have a great weekend. – JACK Oct 12 at 21:41
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Frame it out and build a small bulkhead then add a access door where it would please you. This way even if someone were to screw into the drywall they would be nowhere near the electrical stuff. You can Frame it out of light gage steel or just stick with 2x4. This way you also avoid the need to repair the ceiling.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Oct 13 at 22:23

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