We are updating a basement room. We removed a drop ceiling and instead of replacing it would like to paint the joists and leave them exposed. One issue is existing electrical. There are a couple of NM cables running through holes in joists. From my understanding, this would be to code in unfinished basement space, and it is evidently acceptable when hidden by a drop ceiling.

I'm not sure if it would be to code in the new exposed ceiling situation, and even if it was, I think I would prefer that the cables are better protected.

Re-routing these cables would be a hassle. Is there any simple way to enclose these existing cables in some sort of protective conduit? This would be some sort of raceway that somehow opens along its length to accept an existing cable and then closes back up. I have seen "cord hiders" to tidy up behind TVs, but I've not found something to work for NM cables.

I could box the cables in (using wood) between each joist (I believe this would be up to code), but the cables run through quite a few joists, and it would be time consuming to build a dozen or more such boxes.

  • Hiding or leaving the cables might depend on what the room is used for. A room that is going to be used for living(playroom/TV) different than a laundry/maintenance/storage room. Might not like to see cables if you stay in the room for long.
    – crip659
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


That may or may not be OK. The best thing is to contact your local inspector, that person in the end approves or fails your work. More then likely it will be OK but ask then you will not have insurance problems later. I would not expect an inspection unless you are doing other work which it appears you are.

  • I believe as long as they are 8' or more from the floor, you don't need to protect them. But I did several searches and couldn't confirm. Maybe one of the big three here will chime in with an answer. Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 11:10

If you have some way of cutting plastic conduit in half along its length, you could simply slide the semi-circular pieces under the wires and through the holes.

They'd still be exposed from above, but would be protected and look nice from below.

(Note that I've no idea how this would fit into code regulations.)

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