Minnesota code says "exposed" wire (NM 12/2 w ground, or 14/2 w ground), in a basement, what does that mean?

An existing wire had been run on the backside (on the furnace room side) of the main wooden horizontal support beam then down the wooden vertical support beam into a receptacle. I'd like to correct this, I have framed the wall correctly but not sure how to get the wire to a new receptacle between studs.

The furnace ducting on the back side of the beam doesn't allow conduit between it and the beam up into the joist space and I certainly cant drill holes in either beam.

If the ducting prevents anything getting to the wire on the back side of the beam, would I run conduit up as far as I can get it so it would be protected and not "exposed"?

  • 2
    Can you post photos of the situation please? Jan 7, 2021 at 12:41
  • Do you have a notice of a specific code section? (Was it cited as an NEC violation or a local ordinance?) Jan 7, 2021 at 16:20
  • @Nosparks please Article 334 covers nm cable, cable running down a basement wall without cover is a violation see 334.15.C. If an inspector can see exposed cable they usually will flag it. A little trim to cover the gap between the duct and the wall and it is no longer exposed its more like a stud bay and that is code compliant.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 7, 2021 at 18:02
  • A cable is several wires inside a sheath. NM is cable not wire. If it were wire, it would not be allowed outside conduit at all! Jan 7, 2021 at 18:17
  • @EdBeal I'm aware of the conditions required in 334.15 for exposed work, what I was looking for is if the inspector quoted a state or local ordinance that goes further than the just the requirements of the NEC. Jan 7, 2021 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


Normally anything below ceiling height requires conduit or a different wiring method. I understand you can not access the wire on the wall but if an inspector can see it they will usually say something. If you could add a trim board to cover that space between the furnace and the wall it will not be exposed and you will be good to go.

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