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I'm located in Chicago and live in a one story home (no upstairs just basement) and just had an electrician come to add an outlet for a dishwasher and put the refrigerator on its own circuit. They decided the quickest way was to run an additional conduit line horizontally in order to use some existing wire and therefore had to put holes through multiple studs. The electrician kept acting like the holes he made were no big deal and they do it all the time but from what I read of the building code, the holes are certainly larger than I believe is allowable and closer to the edge than allowable and I'm worried about the structural support of the home now.

(https://codes.iccsafe.org/s/CHIBC2019P5/chapter-23-wood/CHIBC2019P5-Ch23-Sec2308.5.10)

2308.5.10 Bored holes. Bored holes not greater than 40 percent of the stud width are permitted to be bored in any wood stud. Bored holes not greater than 60 percent of the stud width are permitted in nonbearing partitions or in any wall where each bored stud is doubled, provided that not more than two such successive doubled studs are so bored. The edge of a bored hole shall not be nearer than 5/8 inch (15.9 mm) to the edge of the stud. Bored holes shall not be located at the same section of stud as a cut or notch.

The first and second photos are what was cut out from a load bearing stud and the third photo is what was cut out from a non-load bearing stud. Any ideas on what I should do? Is this acceptable? Do I demand a refund or fix? What is the fix for this? I'm unsure if a sister stud can be added or not and it would be a huge pain to have to put in a completely new stud.

First picture is what was cut out from a load bearing stud Second picture is what was cut out from a load bearing stud Third picture is what was cut out from non-load bearing stud

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    Those holes look like they were made by a hack. Would mention them to the inspector that checks that electrician work. If it was a load bearing wall, would be having that electrician replace the studs.
    – crip659
    Sep 21 at 22:30
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    "I ruin houses daily, what's the big deal?"
    – Tiger Guy
    Sep 21 at 22:50
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    Load bearing because it runs the long length of the house and in the basement that is the same wall distance that is supported by the steel beams.
    – John L
    Sep 22 at 13:23
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    @crip659 - I wouldn't be letting 'that electrician' near anything again! Amateur job as electrician, just think what havoc would be caused as a woodworker!
    – Tim
    Sep 22 at 14:32
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    If you are really paranoid about this, I would take a 2x4, doesn't have to be that long, maybe a foot or so, perhaps rip it in half so you don't have to use excessively long screws, and glue and screw it 90degrees to the existing stud spanning the cutout area. This looks very doable in the 3rd photo, the new 2x4 (ripped to 2x2) would cover the now unoccupied part of the hole where the cable isn't. This should restore the compressive load bearing strength and provide extra shear strength. But really this would only be an issue under extreme snow load or high winds.
    – Glen Yates
    Sep 22 at 15:26

2 Answers 2

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The upper one looks like <40%. Those "on a sweep" spots require a tall notch like that. I know you want to see only the wood removed which is in the way, but that requires magic.

The lower one is a drunk mess. That stud will need to be doubled or reinforced with some Unistrut or a Simpson Strong-Tie.

I believe is allowable and closer to the edge than allowable

The reason for that rule is so drywallers etc. can use <=1-1/2" fasteners and not have to worry about running one through the non-metallic cable (Romex). Where it is closer than that to the surface, you must use a metal nail-guard plate to protect the Romex.

But thanks to Chicago, that is EMT metal conduit. EMT is its own guard plate. So Mrs. O'Leary's cow would have difficulty putting a picture nail or drywall screw through it, and even if they did, it would just short to the conduit shell and trip the breaker.

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  • The electrician claimed they had to drill that many holes because it is in a corner and that was the only way they could get the bend around. The dilemma is that this was installed in an opening in the drywall in the kitchen where the backsplash was. There are still both upper and lower cabinets hanging on the walls that were not going to be removed and are still fully drywalled. Is there any way to do this reinforcement without removing the cabinets and a whole section of the wall?
    – John L
    Sep 22 at 13:11
  • Seems like the electrician could have drilled the holes vertically, then rotated the conduit after pushing the bend through the hole.
    – barbecue
    Sep 22 at 17:26
  • @JohnL yeah, I already mentioned Unistrut, take some of that and some 1-5/8" long TORX deck screws, drill a bunch of holes in the Unistrut big enough for the deck screws to go through easily, staggered so they don't split the wood... then get a 3/8" socket drive "bit holder" and Torx bits. The bottom ones will be easy to drive, for the top ones use an extension bar and ratchet, speed wrench, whatever works. This won't work with Philips, you need Torx. Sep 22 at 20:11
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It is a stud. Even if this is a load bearing wall. Let's take the worst case scenario, the hole the ele cut splits and the stud fails, what is going to happen? This wall appears to have drywall on both sides, drywall while not a structural component does add strength to walls. You'd likely end up with some deflection in the ceiling/wall joint above if a rafter and heavy snow load are sitting on this stud. Even if the one stud completely failed it is very unlikely that the whole wall fails and your roof comes crashing down.

The code is correct this stud is over bored. It sucks as it really isn't that hard to drill a hole in a stud in a reasonable manner.

The easiest fix is probably to laminate both sides with plywood - depends on the length of your stud but you can get 10' sheets. Cut the 10' 3.5" wide strips, notch the strip to accommodate the bored hole, glue and screw it to both sides of the 2x4.

I'd also get a hole saw, create a plug for the over cut hole, get some glue and slap it into the hole before I laminated the 2x4.

The lower end of what I'd opt for is just making the plug, gluing it in place and laminating maybe 2' above and below for a 4' piece of 3/4" plywood on each side that is strengthening the 2x4 and holding the plug in place. There are finger jointed studs after all and those are two completely separate pieces that are glued together and they support vertical loads just fine.

If you want to be 100% then get a structural engineer in to give you a remedy, cost is likely less than $500 for the visit and remedy.

At least you only had this guy in for a limited scope of work and the repair is limited to just this one stud !

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  • The electrician claimed they had to drill that many holes because it is in a corner and that was the only way they could get the bend around. The dilemma is that this was installed in an opening in the drywall in the kitchen where the backsplash was. There are still both upper and lower cabinets hanging on the walls that were not going to be removed and are still fully drywalled. The hole is right near the bottom of the upper cabinet so reaching 2' above that is going to be pretty challenging
    – John L
    Sep 22 at 13:16
  • The wall looks to have drywall on both sides of the studs, what is the room behind the kitchen? Sep 22 at 16:25
  • Why did the ele use conduit? I can see that being a major pain to install. Sep 22 at 16:30
  • Otherside of the kitchen is the living room and entryway, both fully finished with wood paneling on top of drywall. I live in Chicago so conduit is required and yes definitely a pain but this electrician should know that having worked in this city for many years
    – John L
    Sep 22 at 16:48
  • In that scenario, I'd do the plug with glue and see how large of a piece I could get up into the stud bay above and below the notch, screw and glue it. I suppose you could treat it as an opening and put a header in above the stud over bore and add cripples. You can only do so much without tearing apart large sections of finished work. Sep 22 at 22:19

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