When I was checking my unfinished basement I found two very long wires being folded/tied and left between joists by the builder/electrician. What are they and how to find what are they for? Each wire is (both are white 14 gauge) at least 15 feet long. They do not have power on to them, so not connected anywhere. Wires are closer to the walls and going into the walls towards the first floor. Any one has any idea?enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 1
    Given the unfinished duct-work, I'd guess HVAC controls of one sort or another (motorized damper, temperature sensor, etc) but the simplest thing would be to ask the builder....
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 23, 2021 at 3:21
  • Construction temporary lighting?
    – Kris
    Jan 23, 2021 at 3:49
  • Maybe it's a good idea to contact whoever did the work and ask him. Regardless, if its on a live circuit it needs to be dealt with and made safe. Jan 23, 2021 at 14:50
  • Presumably they are for when one chooses to turn the UN-finished basement into a finished basement with switches, fixtures and outlets.
    – Alaska Man
    Jan 23, 2021 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


I put in extra circuits quite often. They could have been for an option on the home that was not purchased with a speculation /track home (homes being built prior to purchased) it is cheaper when you hire a roping crew (they just pull wire based on the generic blueprints) then the electrician goes in and connects everything. If you don’t buy the upgrades they are not connected in the service panel. So they may be spares for additional lighting and or receptacles. Ask your builder to be sure but this will be the most likely answer. Don’t cut them off if you decide to use them in the future having them can save hundreds dollars for each circuit.

  • Thanks Ed. The house is about 10 years old. Discovered them about 5 years ago and did not give a second thought to it. Now I'm just finished framing the basement, and want to start the wiring. I'm wondering if I could use them. All I know is its going to the main/second floor some where and not connected.
    – Nick
    Jan 24, 2021 at 3:28
  • I would look inside your service panel if there are unused cables in there they can be checked for continuity then in the service panel connect them together and see if any of the other ends show shorted. Repeat this procedure until you have identified all the cables. A voltage check is always a good idea prior to shorting any wires together but if in the service panel they should not be energized. (On my current home I found a circuit that was jumped together in another room back-feeding to the panel).
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 24, 2021 at 6:07

Thanks all for the helpful answers.

Since, I posted this question, I found that one wire (pic 2) is attached to the living room outlet and was live all this time and just hanging there. I disconnected it at the outlet but could not pull it out. May be because of the clips and so on. Another wire was also left (discovered after this post) live but pinned to the joists and disconnected that too. The long one (pic 1) probably for the dishwasher and located directly below the DW. There are no outlets behind the DW. We usually plug it into one of the kitchen outlets. Its not live. I'm thinking of cutting them off.

  • 1
    Don't cut them off. You never know what the future will bring... direct wire DW, point of service water heater, etc.
    – JACK
    Mar 14, 2021 at 22:38
  • What @JACK said! Just put a wire nut on individual wires, or some electrical tape around cables, but leave them there. If you ever need future wiring at these points, you'll be very glad you did!
    – FreeMan
    Mar 15, 2021 at 10:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.