I live in a tri-level home. I am on the bottom floor and trying to run a cable from the wall up into the ceiling of the lower floor to put lights into this room. The way that it is currently done is not okay. Looking at my picture, the cable comes up and then it runs horizontally into the open space in the steel I-beam. It then hits a junction box (guessing the cable was too short) and then further down it runs up into the ceiling basically on the face of the stud. The drywall on the wall was notched to allow clearance for the cable. I know that is no okay, which is why I am trying to move it.

The beam runs the whole length of the wall, so I cannot just go further down to go up into the ceiling. And it is my understanding that I cannot drill a hole through the top flange of the beam.

So I think my only option (and not even sure if it is an option) is to go through the wood that is to the left and above the beam. Instead of the cable that is circled in red going through that stud, I need it to go up and come out above the wall where I have the purple circle. Not sure what is okay to drill through since there is so much going on here.

In short, how do I get a cable from red circle to purple circle without compromising the structure of the floor above or the stairs?

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Edit to add picture where existing cable goes into ceiling on the surface of the studs.

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  • 1
    Can you add a picture of where the drywall was notched? Depending on the situation, this may not be so bad. Also, the blue junction box has a cover. Is that cover accessible when the drywall is in place, or did you only discover it when you removed drywall? All boxes must be accessible with the simple removal of a cover plate. Can you take the cover off that box so we can see what's going on in there - that may be helpful in assessing your options. What's with the large coil of NM wiring just to the right of your blue circle (above the blue box)?
    – FreeMan
    Jun 19, 2020 at 14:55
  • @FreeMan Added a picture of existing wire. The cover on the junction box was not accessible when the drywall was in place. This box will be removed. It appears the junction box is literally just to extend the wire. Wire comes in, colors all matched up, wire comes out. The coil of wire is the wire I am currently running. I was intentionally ignoring that to simplify what I was asking. That wire is actually what I will be running down. The existing wire running to the junction box with be removed and the coiled wire will be ran down once i figure out how to get it down the wall. Jun 19, 2020 at 15:04
  • I came back in time from a post-apocalyptic future to let you know that a cable is a thing containing multiple wires in a sheath. No I am not Thanos, why do people keep saying that? Jun 19, 2020 at 18:18

2 Answers 2


I'd be looking at a larger re-run to address the illegal junction box. You might be able to avoid this hurdle altogether. Aside from that, I'd do this:

  1. Open up a little more drywall so you can get your drill and a drill bit in each of those openings.
  2. Drill from below at about a 10 degree angle to the right, and to a depth of about 3" into the triple beam above. Roughly center the hole in the wall depth and keep it centered on that plane.
  3. Drill from right to left through the triple beam, 2 inches up, intersecting the earlier hole. Angle slightly downward to ease the bend where the bores intersect.

I'd use a 3/4" or 7/8" bit. That should be forgiving enough yet not be absurdly large in terms of framing damage. It's important that you align the holes carefully. Then pull a light wire or string through as a fish line. Feed the cable gently though the bend to avoid sharp kinks.

  • For step 2, are you saying to drill starting from the diagonal board just above my red circle up into the triple header? Starting further left of course and drilling at an angle. That was my original plan, but was not sure if it was okay to drill through the triple header. Jun 19, 2020 at 15:10
  • 1
    Correct. You can drill the header there. It's fully supported below.
    – isherwood
    Jun 19, 2020 at 15:11
  • 1
    Awesome thank you for your input. Also, as far as the illegal junction box goes, I will be removing that. There is actually a coil of wire top right in the first picture that will be replacing the existing wire and junction box. I just did not comment on it to keep my question more clear. Though I suppose I should have since everyone is worried about it haha. Thanks again! Jun 19, 2020 at 15:17

Based on the second pic showing where the wire runs out of the I-beam and up into the ceiling I'd suggest boxing in a soffit around the I-beam to hide the wire in.

Fur out the existing wood on top and below the I-beam using 2x2 or 2x4 to make the beam "wider". Leave a gap where the current wire runs over the edge of the steel and put a hammer-in protector plate over it.

You'll most definitely want to re-run your wiring (as you've indicated you're already doing) to eliminate the illegally buried junction box.

Once you've got these extra furring strips in, you can drywall over them (the wire protector will prevent you from running a screw/nail into your nice new NM-B) and you're done.

No need to drill through the stair header or anything else.

  • Or a surface mounted jct box flush to the ceiling, wire in the back and out the top?
    – Alaska Man
    Jun 19, 2020 at 16:11
  • Instead of an entire soffit? Yeah, that would work. The soffit gives a chase to run any future wiring in and appears more hidden when finished.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 20, 2020 at 13:26

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