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I have been working on rebuilding the wall separating my basement and garage. I know this wall needs to have some fire protection, but I have just recently learned that research is important - it isn't enough to slap 5/8" Type X drywall on it. I am apparently supposed to use special tape and the right kind of mud, no problem.

But I ran a BUNCH of outlets on both sides of the wall (garage and basement). A lack of outlets on both sides has long been extremely irritating me. I definitely put in too many outlets, some in the same stud cavity (on opposite sides of the wall). For example, the garage has (3) dual gang GFCI protected outlets at the workbench area, and (4) more dual gang GFCI protected outlets elsewhere.

There is also a light switch basement side and one garage side. I install metal boxes for mounting the garage door openers, and an electric sub panel to power all these outlets, etc.

For all that and various other issues, I am planning to tear the whole thing down and start over again, taking it as a valuable and hard earned lesson.

So for the new, new wall.. I am toying with the idea of running everything surface mount, so as not to break the fire protection. e.g.

  • I would have fewer outlets, and they would be surface mount with solid metal conduit up through the ceiling (which would have fire putty/caulk/etc where it penetrates the ceiling).
  • Garage door openers would either be bare wire stapled to the drywall, or a tiny conduit.
  • Same deal with power for garage door openers - surface mount boxes.
  • I would remove the sub panel entirely and just run wires from the main panel (which is out of breaker slots, but I'll figure something out there).

I realize it won't be as great - no separate panel, everything surface mount - no utility sink in the garage - etc. But I'd rather make sure we're safe in the event of a garage fire vs. have it pretty.

Do you see anything wrong with this approach, or know a better a way?

  • Is there neat system for running a bunch of surface mount conduit pipes neatly and securely?
  • Am I going too far the other direction? e.g. should I just suck it up, run fewer outlets and in wall boxes, and fire putty/caulk/seal the heck out of them?

Edit: I should mention I also have to have two 3" PVC pipes penetrating this wall for the HVAC flue. :/

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  • If this isn't an answerable question / is too incoherent / etc, please feel free to close. Seep deprivation is taking its toll. I would appreciate some advice on breaking it up into answerable units, though.
    – negacao
    Aug 9, 2023 at 13:02
  • Thank you, @FreeMan. It sounds like I am overreacting.
    – negacao
    Aug 9, 2023 at 13:37
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    If your subpanel is OK in terms of workspace (30" x 36" in front of it not blocked by furniture, pipes, storage, etc.) then keep the subpanel. If you have to modify it a bit (move it from wall-cavity to surface mount, for example) that's fine. But don't ruin a good thing! Aug 9, 2023 at 13:57
  • Thanks @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact - the panel is indeed OK. :)
    – negacao
    Aug 9, 2023 at 14:50
  • @FreeMan, thank you, I will do that.
    – negacao
    Aug 9, 2023 at 15:36

1 Answer 1

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It's likely you're overreacting.

First, find out if your current situation is a fire hazard, a question that's probably best answered by your local building inspector. She/he will know your local codes best and, with eyes on, will be able to assess the quality of the workmanship and determine if there are actually issues to be resolved. If there are issues, she'll be able to tell you what remediation is required. TBH, tearing the whole thing out and starting over sounds like a plan dreamed up by your contractor/home improvement center to extract cash from your wallet...

Second, code requires an outlet every 6 feet on a wall. There are loads of garage walls that abut living space that both A) have in-wall outlets every 6 feet, and B) continue to meet fire protection codes. I don't know what is proscribed to provide the appropriate level of protection around an electrical box intrusion, but I'm certain that it's not "surface mount everything".

I'll reiterate: check with your local inspector to be sure. She may tell you to rip it all out and replace it, in which case no harm/no foul (you were prepared to do that anyway) or she may say you're fine or need a couple of small adjustments which means you'll spend a few bucks and can take the spouse out for a nice dinner to celebrate and still have cash left over

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