Does the potential for rodents to access/gnaw on a cable under normal circumstances render it subject to "physical damage" in the sense the NEC intends that term to be used?

  • I can't see how that's possibly what it could mean. But the answer to any code interpretation question is always "ask your local inspector".
    – Hank
    Dec 1 '15 at 4:59
  • +1 awesome question, but I think you already suspect that it would never be interpreted that way. A herd of stampeding bison could knock down my wall and damage the legally installed NM cable. Dec 1 '15 at 6:08
  • 2
    I'd love to hear the story of why this is being asked. Dec 1 '15 at 12:26
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate -- I asked because of another question here, where someone was contemplating running UF unprotected underneath a deck...and my thought was "could rodents be a problem, and if so, how does Code account for that?" Dec 1 '15 at 23:25

If an area rodents can infiltrate is considered subject to physical damage, then cables run inside finished walls, between joists in attics, etc. would certainly have to be considered to be subject to physical damage.

Everything is subject to physical damage in the strictest sense. In context, it's clear the code means subject to physical damage in the normal usage.


If you run the cable through a cage full of rats, then yes. Other than that, it's going to be up to the Authority Having Jurisdiction to make the call. They have a better understanding of the local conditions, and can make a more informed decision.

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