I am trying to sell my house and the following item was called out as a Safety Hazard that I must correct to sell.

I live in Indiana, can someone explain the code, what is wrong here and what a mediation look like?


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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question seems a poor fit for stack exchange in general. Home wiring questions that are on topic go on DIY stack exchange but where the subject is unfamiliar it should be delegated to an electrician. Dec 14, 2019 at 20:39
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    The proper thing to do here is to call an electrician and pay them to fix the problem.
    – Hearth
    Dec 14, 2019 at 20:40
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    @Hearth, how is that helpful?
    – user3687778
    Dec 14, 2019 at 20:43
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    @user3687778 How is it not helpful? It gets your problem solved, safely, following proper procedures.
    – Hearth
    Dec 14, 2019 at 20:47
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    @Hearth -- "call an electrican" is unhelpful because it doesn't give the OP any indication of what's wrong or why they need to call an electrician in Dec 14, 2019 at 21:45

3 Answers 3


This is an easy one, code requires the wiring to be protected below 8’ it can be in conduit (not a cost effective option here).

It can be protected by 1/2” plywood or Sheetrock ! Here is the East way to go.

I would attach some 2x4’s on either side of the box to the floor Joist , then a simple piece of Sheetrock or plywood ~16” wide would meet code. The wiring run through the holes in the joist should be fine. But below 8’ on the walls they need to be protected.

An easy hint a 8’ 2x 4 cut in 4 pieces one laid flat on each sid of the box with 2 tap con screws to hold it in place then nail or screw the other 2 pieces on top of the 2 that are screwed to the wall next the piece of Sheetrock or ply wood to cover it all. A couple dollars for the 2x 4 tap con screws are a bit more expensive some come with the drill bit. 4 screws to hold the 2x4 to the 2x4’s and then 4 more screws to hold the Sheetrock to the 2x4’s,

It could be done with construction adhesive instead of screws but I don’t recommend this but it could be done , I lived in Dayton and did enclose my panel (using construction adhesive in my youth) I had gone through apprenticeship prior to that time and it passed. Today I try to make it serviceable where construction adhesive really requires it to be torn out to pull new circuits.

Added code references: 334.10 must be permitted by to be used except where prohibited by 334.12

334.15 .B exposed work. Protected from damage Cable shall be be protected where necessary

334.15.C installed on the wall of a basement shall be allowed to be installed in conduit or tubing or protected in accordance with 300.4

So yes nm cables on a basement wall require protection. In this case the easiest way is to “finish that section” and box it in.

  • tell me what part of the NEC code says requires the wiring to be protected below 8’
    – ron
    Dec 15, 2019 at 4:11
  • @ron per your comment below , NM wiring methods are specifically laid out in the NEC article 334 and do require protection. In an unfinished basement conduit is required, my advice for finishing that section and covering would meet code , just because you can not find the answer on line won’t help and link only answers are frowned upon. See exposed the definition and start following the many links. But first start with the wiring method to see protection on a basement wall is required.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 15, 2019 at 12:21
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    I have been called many times to build an enclosure over exposed cable just as Ed described. Some calls were from electricians so they could pass inspection and some were from homeowners wanting to sell their home like the OP. +
    – JACK
    Dec 15, 2019 at 15:32

can't tell from resolution of pic but if there is THHN wire there then that would need to be conduited leaving the box and the finding would be correct. But if it is all NM-B wiring leaving the load center then NM-B is "protected wiring".

my load center looks nearly the same as yours, after having upgraded to 200 amp service, permit pulled, and inspected. My basement is partially finished, it is not a "living space".

If your location is fully finished and it's made out like someone is living/sleeping in that room then that could be rationale for unprotected wiring. But it is a gray area.. technically speaking if I staple NM-B on my bedroom 12' ceiling (which is not easily contacted by persons) above my bed every 6" or whatever that is not "against code". It is not good practice and it comes down to argument.

If it was a bldg inspector making the finding, then that's the reason... finding based on emotion not intelligence.

I live in Indiana, can someone explain the code, what is wrong here and what a mediation look like?

step one, whoever wrote the finding needs to cite what specific code is violated. Unprotected wiring observed over the main panel is too vague. Unless your location has some requirement that specifically states wiring leaving the main panel in a basement cannot be exposed then the finding is wrong.

The easiest remediation if it comes down to argument, if it is all NM-B wiring, may be to construct a closet around the load center box keeping the ugliness of wiring out the top of load center out of view and that will appease an emotionally driven inspector... but a closet also then prevents access to the box so then argument can go the other way because there is specific NEC code that calls out restriction of access to stuff like this.

supplement edit:

  • mike holt yuotube video sums this up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhpoUdnh86E only need to watch first 5 minutes
  • 90.4 the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) is responsible for interpretting the NEC but the decision must be based on a specific NEC requirement
  • @ 1:30 to 4:00 min, someone has to make the call & AHJ being a jerk
  • @ 4:44 the NEC does not need to say explicitly you can do something; if it doesn't specifically prohibit something and if other aspects of the NEC are followed for being a safe installation then it is compliant.
  • the subject of this should be code around **Electrical Panel** in homes with a basement
  • other aspects of the code that is relevant here, and i'm not going to explain each, is
    • 110.26 working space, and exception of 6.5ft headroom for service less than 200 amp (coincidence all home service is 200 amp or less?)
    • 110.27 guarding of live parts {and your NM-B is not a live part}
    • 300.4 protection against physical damage where likely
    • Article 334 which is entirely NM cable
    • 334.10 uses permitted = (1) 1&2 family dwellings; (2) multifamily except as prohibited in 334.12; (3) other structures and cables shall be concealed so that a 15 minute thermal barrier is provided by a listed assembly. this does not apply to a typical home.
    • 334.10(A)(1) uses permitted as follows- for both exposed & concealed work in normally dry locations except as prohibited in
    • 334.12 uses not permitted: theatres, hazardous locations, and open runs in suspended ceilings but only in places that are NOT 1/2/multifamily dwellings.
    • 334.15 exposed work shall be installed... to follow surface, be protected from physical damage
    • 334.15(C) in unfinished basements
    • 334.30 securing & supportings... at least every 4.5 feet.

like i was saying:

  • if your location is such that this is a kid's room, or a mental institution where someone will scale the wall to the ceiling, then damage is likely and the wiring should be protected. So in this case there is rationale.
  • if this is an unfinished basement that is not going to see living room human traffic, then the height of the visible NM wiring above the panel is reasonably out of reach where accidental contact is not likely and therefore there is little justification to classify it as exposed which implies likely to be damaged.
  • and if it comes down to debate it might be easiest to construct (not even a closet around the entire area) but just a square 3 sided box simply to obstruct the NM above the panel from view... although you will see all that NM wire anyway in the exposed ceiling of your unfinished basement just 1 foot away from the panel. And which is perfectly acceptable? so why then is the NM just above the panel not ok but all the exposed NM everywhere else in the ceiling ok? If the the panel is set low to the ground where the NM out of the top of it is at chest level then it maybe can be considered in a location likely to be damaged and could warrant some protection. But your pic seems to be of you pointing upwards and unless your really short so...
  • if it was a real estate home inspector claiming this Safety Hazard then tell them to f.o. In this instance if it comes down to an AHJ from your town making the call, then it has to be based on their specific interpretation of the NEC. You can't just say "safety hazard"
  • and it doesn't pay to be argumentative, start off with a what's the overall goal here... safe installation... why is it not safe? ... what is a reasonable solution? Don't just leave me with unsafe, what do you want to see then?
  • read the NEC yourself: https://www.nfpa.org/NEC/About-the-NEC/Free-online-access-to-the-NEC-and-other-electrical-standards
  • If you click the photo to view it full-size you can see that it's all NM-B cable. Not sure what the downvote was for.
    – isherwood
    Dec 15, 2019 at 2:53
  • I don’t know the down vote either but NM in unfinished basements is allowed to be in conduit. As NM must be specifically permitted to be used per NEC 334.10 , 334.15.C becomes the point where it requires conduit , or to finish that tiny section as I suggested and cover with Sheetrock or plywood encasing it the same as any other stud bay.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 15, 2019 at 12:13
  • I've had to cover up cables like this in three different states, maybe four. Don't know why the down vote.
    – JACK
    Dec 15, 2019 at 15:36
  • * it was a real estate home inspector claiming this Safety Hazard then tell them to f.o.* While you can do that, it doesn't really solve the problem of this ending up in the inspection report that potential buyers will see, and when they see "safety hazard", they are going to want it to be fixed by the seller. If it can be shown that it meets code and is not a safety hazard, then it's more likely that they'll retract it from the report.
    – Johnny
    Dec 18, 2019 at 20:46
  • i wasn't being literal with the f.o. comment. but for some of them when in 1 minute of observing their body language that approach is sometimes deserved.
    – ron
    Dec 18, 2019 at 20:57

I would challenge the inspector. Have them state exactly what section of the code is in question. You could also ask what specifically needs to be done. This is probably just the opinion of a home inspector that couldn't find anything else. If the installation meets the electrical code you have a right NOT to be called on it. Squido

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    That would be silly since the area above the panel is not protected and code requires conduit, 1/2” ply wood or 1/2” Sheetrock below 8’ the inspector is correct in calling out unprotected wiring but it is an easy fix.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 15, 2019 at 1:01
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    @ron I am a professional electrician and every AHJ I have worked under considers open wiring below 8’ at risk of being damaged, there are exceptions in the code for ceiling mounted or in a crawl space but there are still requirements such as less than #6 I believe requires a “rat board” a board or panel that spans the floor joists when run below and not through in basements and crawl spaces. My AHJ has not adopted the crawl space exception so if the inspector is flagging it it probably should be covered the inspector is the authority here.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 15, 2019 at 11:36
  • AHJ I have worked under considers open wiring below 8’; why not just consider electricity as a whole unsafe and prevent electricity from being used?
    – ron
    Dec 18, 2019 at 18:55
  • there is no below 8 foot rule in the NEC code as it pertains to NonMetallic sheathed wiring. At best an inference from 110.27 guarding of live parts above 50 volts by elevation of 8ft of more above floor or other working service and 300.5 direct buried conductors and enclosures emerging from grade shall be protected by enclosures or raceways extending from the minimum cover distance required by 300.5(A) below grade to a poinst at least 8ft above finished grade.
    – ron
    Dec 18, 2019 at 19:20

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