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Inside of my house on the ceiling there is exposed romex stapled to the ceiling which is about 6 feet long. The ceiling is 10 feet high. Is this okay?

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    This isn't code anywhere in North America. It either must be in the wall or protected by armor. – DMoore Apr 20 '15 at 15:01
  • @DMoore Sounds like an answer (and an important one). – bib Apr 20 '15 at 15:26
  • Seconded. A reference about required code would be helpful/nice. I'd also describe the 'armament' that might be common (track, conduit, etc) – BrownRedHawk Apr 20 '15 at 15:31
  • As @DMoore has said, this is not up to code. But it also says that whoever did this, was either ignorant, cheap, lazy or all of the above. Where this could be resolved with a surface mounted conduit, I'll be concerned about how it's connected to the rest of the electrical and any other work that the prior owner did. – diceless Apr 20 '15 at 15:34
  • @bib - We have a lot of electricians on here now. Let them look up the codes behind this. I just state the obvious. – DMoore Apr 20 '15 at 15:36
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No problem, as long as the Authority having Junction (AHJ) doesn't consider it subject to physical damage.

334.10 (A) Type NM. Type NM cable shall be permitted as follows:

(1) For both exposed and concealed work in normally dry locations except as prohibited in 334.10(3)

334.15 Exposed Work. In exposed work, except as provided in 300.11(A), cable shall be installed as specified in 334.15(A) through (C).

(A) To Follow Surface. Cable shall closely follow the surface of the building finish or of running boards.

Notice that 334.15 (A) says "Cable shall closely follow the surface of the building finish".

Though the AHJ could always fall back to 110.12, and say it's not installed in a workmanlike manner.

110.12 Mechanical Execution of Work. Electrical equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner.

  • Growing up in NYC where nothing but armored was allowed, and then Long Island where everyone knows (?) you can't have exposed NM (and raceways were the only surface treatment allowed), this is an eye opener. I think I agree with @DMoore that the building inspectors I have met would insist on NM being behind the walls except in unfinished space. But, as you say, the code does not seem to explicitly require it. – bib Apr 20 '15 at 21:55
  • @bib I agree that it's not a typical installation technique, but as far as code goes, I wasn't able to find anything that disallowed it. – Tester101 Apr 20 '15 at 22:45
  • @DMoore My answer is based on what the code says, not what your inspector says. I agree that it's not the best way to do it, but again, the code doesn't seem to disallow it. – Tester101 Apr 21 '15 at 0:16
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I would be under the assumption that any inspector would cite:

334.15 Exposed Work. In exposed work, except as provided in 300.11(A), cable shall be installed as specified in 334.15(A) through (C). (A) To Follow Surface. Cable shall closely follow the surface of the building finish or of running boards. (B) Protection from Physical Damage. Cable shall be protected from physical damage where necessary by rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, electrical metallic tubing, Schedule 80 PVC conduit, or other approved means. Where passing through a floor, the cable shall be enclosed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, electrical metallic tubing, Schedule 80 PVC conduit, or other approved means extending at least 150 mm (6 in.) above the floor. Type NMC cable installed in shallow chases or grooves in masonry, concrete, or adobe, shall be protected in accordance with the requirements in 300.4(F) and covered with plaster, adobe, or similar finish.

Or they could just say that the work wasn't done in a workman-like manner.

I have done work on homes all over the US. In the past 15 years or so we haven't even been able to run romex in garages exposed. There is no way in the world any inspector is going to pass this is in a normal living area.

Even more on point then the garage example are basements. I have been told by many local inspectors that if we wanted to put up walls in basements, then the only exposed wiring we could have is in the utility room area. Basically told me to keep the basement open and totally unfinished or made me rerun all of the stapled to the joists wiring (which I have done countless times).

I don't think height matters. If your ceilings are 10 feet you probably need a ladder to change a light bulb. Said metal ladder could hit circuit and make you go ouch. In a practical sense, just ask the local inspector what he thinks. It is his interpretation of the NEC that matters. However I would just change it, since any future owner having and inspection will see this as a red flag.

  • The walls of garages and unfinished basements are almost always considered subject to physical damage, which is why NM cable is not allowed. – Tester101 Apr 20 '15 at 17:00
  • @Tester101 - Ceilings too? I am just going by interpretations in a few areas of midwest and west coast. No way in the world would I get this passed. – DMoore Apr 20 '15 at 17:01
  • If the ceiling is out of the reach of normally damaging activities, I'd say it's not subject to physical damage. – Tester101 Apr 20 '15 at 17:03
  • @Tester101 - not saying you are wrong. But the code is vague. And there is no way in hell would even think about showing that to an inspector. If you think you can get this passed then we are in different worlds as far as inspections. – DMoore Apr 20 '15 at 17:08
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    I think that the height does matter as it does for all other situations. It's definitely not considered readily accessible, it's also not subject to physical damage. I don't think the code is vague, it's just generally applied instead of specifically as it was intended. Echoing what's been said as well, examples of unfinished basements or garages is a bit of counter argument to your post. IOW, those have issues which OP does not. – ChiefTwoPencils Apr 21 '15 at 3:21

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