My contractor helped me added several outlets and bathroom fan a year ago. Today I saw the wire in attic are like this. From the duct tape marks I can know each of the wires use for. The additional outlets are for the washlet toilet and hair dryer. enter image description here

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    A "contractor" is required to pull permits and bring in licensed professionals for specialty work. The markings in the photo are not required at all, so the non-Spanish (English in one NEC country) isn't a problem, but it's interesting because it tells us their motivation wasn't "be as cheap as possible". Just, the installer had no earthly clue what the electrical codes were here. And obviously was willing to practice without learning. Not a hard job to fix, add junction boxes. Make sure wire is legal and not a foreign special. Apr 19, 2023 at 21:22
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    They know how to get power from A to B, they don't have the foggiest notion of what will happen to those wires over time. There's a very good reason for junction boxes, especially considering that those wires could get stepped on someday. Apr 20, 2023 at 3:54
  • Your contractor is not qualified to be anywhere near electricity. They are however qualified to start fires.
    – Ian Kemp
    Apr 22, 2023 at 14:47
  • Just to be sure, are you in the USA or in another country? When speaking about code compliance this is important (although I doubt that mess would be legal in any developed country). Apr 23, 2023 at 16:31

2 Answers 2


100% with George, but let's talk for a moment about the dumpster pending attic fire that is your picture.

Junction Boxes aren't just for show

Junction boxes aren't code just because the NEC committee wants to help the junction box industry. Junction boxes arrest sparks. Each of those wire nuts covers two or more wires. If they ever work loose, the wires can arc, just like a spark plug does. Fiberglass insulation (at least I hope that is fiberglass) might be more fire resistant, but do you want to bet that anything else in your attic won't start a fire if it's exposed to an arcing situation?

Most of the junctions are poorly done

When you join two or more wires together under a wire nut, you typically

  1. Strip the wires some
  2. Bring the wires together
  3. Use pliers to twist the wires together

They skipped #3 in several spots. Here's a pretty obvious one

Poor junction

See how the wires are mostly parallel until they get right next to the nut? That screams that the wires were not twisted before they put the wire nut (what little twisting they do have is from twisting the wire nut). In other words, all the stands between you and a junction failure is that wire nut Remember how I talked about arcing previously? This is a great way to get arcing. And some of those wire nuts might just pop off in your hand if you tug on them.

This is more along the lines of what you want to see. Note how the wires wrap around one another multiple times

Better wrapped wires

Fixing this

The good news is you might be able to make this OK with just a few dollars at your local hardware store. I don't see anything that screams cable replacement, so if you want to try and fix this yourself, it should be doable.

You'll need 3 metal junction boxes total. 2 of them can be a standard 4" square boxes, with the third needing to be a "deep" box. Be sure these boxes have a "bump" at the bottom with a screw hole (will make your life easier). Buy lids for each as well. You'll also need a box of grounding screws and eight 1/2" (sometimes billed 3/8") NM clamp connectors. And you'll want some simple wood screws to attach the boxes to the joists.

Box #1 and Box #2 will be the same, and both will be smaller boxes. On the left and right side of your picture, knock out two holes, attach clamps and feed the cables in, then secure the cables in the clamps. Screw the boxes to the joist below. Now, you'll need a piece of bare copper wire or some green grounding wire. Take a pair of pliers and twist the ground wires together with your extra ground. Now, use a grounding screw to secure this extra wire to the box (this is called bonding). Add a wire nut. Twist your black and white wires together and add a wire nut. Now push the wires into the box and attach the lid and tighten the screws. These are now done.

Before you tackle the middle, take note of something. You have a cluster of three cables at the bottom. They are all connected. The top two are your light. See the white wire in the cluster of black wires? That's your incoming hot to your switch. Mark this wire with a black sharpie. Now, take the wire nuts apart. Knock out five holes 1/2" holes and attach cable clamps. Screw this to the joist, then run the three wires on the bottom in and the two light fixture wires on the top. As with the other box, take an extra ground and bond this box to the cluster of ground (all ground will go here). Be sure to nut this off (it's not in the picture).

Now, take the white wires (except the one you marked for your switch) and nut them all together. Take the three black wires from the bottom, along with your switch white, and nut them all together. Now you should have the two black wires from the top. Nut them together. Close this box up and you're done.

  • A switch loop (white hot flavor, as opposed to white neutral and a red and black for the loop hots) installed a year ago is a violation except in those (few) locations that were still using NEC2008 in 2022...
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 20, 2023 at 19:03
  • @Ecnerwal True. It really does need a neutral to be NEC compliant, but I'm trying to avoid a cable re-run
    – Machavity
    Apr 20, 2023 at 19:08
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    Odds seem great that the cable is loose and can be used to pull a /3 cable in. Given the rest of the "workmanship"...
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 20, 2023 at 19:11

That is blatantly code illegal . Your alleged contractor is clearly not an electrician. This is horrible workmanship. All connections are required to be in a certified electrical box that is permanently accessible and covered with a cover plate. Just because it works doesn't mean it is safe. It really really needs to be brought up to code.

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    I would add that several of the ground wires are not spliced but just kind of tangled up. The cables are not secured anywhere that I can see. No guard strips provided where cables cross the joists. And my personal favorite, there is obvious damage to the cable sheath in at least two places where the cables will have to be removed. Apr 19, 2023 at 18:36
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    Also note the duct tape is labeled in a non-Latin alphabet. Let's check the country before citing code books. Apr 19, 2023 at 18:41
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    It's in US. The contractor, no handyman, is Asian, the tape was labeled in Chinese.
    – YRJ
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:53
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    Given the random damage to the cables, if I found this in my home I would go beyond repairing the obvious mess. I'd use these cables to pull new ones from the boxes where they terminate in order to be sure there are no splices or damaged cables inside the walls.
    – jay613
    Apr 20, 2023 at 18:57

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