I've heard some people say that code requires wiring in the wall to be stapled to framing every so often (how often?), but when you are doing a remodel, is that necessary?

I have a two story house, and would like to remove one standard dome light on the first floor ceiling and replace it with 6 recessed lights. There is about 12" of empty space between the floors, and it seems easy enough to run the wire from light to light without cutting any drywall except for the 4-5" holes required for the lights. However, there's no way I'd be able to staple the wiring down. It's just going to be loose in the ceiling, running through a small hole in the I joists every once in a while.

They sell "remodel" light cans that are made specifically so you only have to cut a hole big enough for them to fit in, so this seems like a common job. What am I missing and how can I do this job in the most correct way?

This is in Dallas, TX, single family residence.

  • 4
    Once again... "I've heard some people..." is a poor way to go. Look up the local code. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 19:18
  • To have reasonable answers about code, you need to state the location so we can know what code you're talking about.
    – Agent_L
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 11:59
  • 1
    @Agent_L, good point and I even knew that... Edited with location.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 13:09

3 Answers 3


If you are not removing more drywall than needed for the new recessed lights, then no per 334.30(B)(1) (assuming you are using NM cable). There are similar clauses for other flexible cable assemblies (e.g. AC/MC).

However, if you are removing drywall as part of the remodel and have access to the studs, then you do need to secure and support according the remainder of 334.30 (or similar clauses for other cable types).

From NFPA-70:2014 (a.k.a. 2014 NEC):

334.30 Securing and Supporting Nonmetallic-sheathed cable shall be supported and secured by staples, cable ties, straps, hangers, or similar fittings designed and installed so as not to damage the cable, at intervals not exceeding 1.4 m (4 1⁄2 ft) and within 300 mm (12 in.) of every outlet box. junction box, cabinet, or fitting. Flat cables shall not be stapled on edge. Sections of cable protected from physical damage by raceway shall not be required to be secured within the raceway.

(A) Horizontal Runs Through Holes and Notches. In other than vertical runs, cables installed in accordance with 300.4 shall be considered to be supported and secured where such support does not exceed 1.4-m (4 1⁄2-ft) intervals and the nonmetallic-sheathed cable is securely fastened in place by an approved means within 300 mm (12 in.) of each box, cabinet, conduit body, or other nonmetallicsheathed cable termination.

FPN: See 314.17(C) for support where nonmetallic boxes are used

334.30(B) Unsupported Cables. Nonmetallic-sheathed cable shall be permitted to be unsupported where the cable:

(1) Is fished between access points through concealed spaces in finished buildings or structures and supporting is impracticable.

(2) Is not more than 1.4 m (4 1 ⁄2 ft) from the last point of cable support to the point of connection to a luminaire or other piece > of electrical equipment and the cable and point of connection are > within an accessible ceiling


Electricians "fish" wires through existing homes by the thousands every day without stapling. Staple if you can (every 4' in attics, within 12" of all boxes), and don't if you can't. Use some common sense to prevent any future damage to the wiring by avoiding sharp or metallic objects or high-traffic areas.

  • 1
    It's code compliant to not secure cables where they are fished, but you should try to at lest secure the ends within 12" of the box. Obviously (as stated in this answer), if you have access to the cable, you should secure it.
    – Tester101
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 15:12

In addition to good answers by @statuephemism and @isherwood, it's worth mentioning why you might want to staple and why in your case it probably doesn't matter.

First reason to staple is to keep wires out of the way so they don't get accidentally trapped when fitting new drywall on a ceiling for instance. This isn't relevant if the ceiling is already in place. Drilling through the floor above is unlikely to damage the cable since it will be lying on the ceiling below the joists, several inches lower down. Drilling from below might touch the cable but since it's loose it will most likely just shift to one side or lift up when the bit touches it rather than being seriously damaged.

Second reason to staple is for strain relief so that if someone pulls hard on one end of the wire (e.g. trying to get a bit more slack or tripping over it elsewhere in the house) it doesn't loosen the connection at the other end and cause a short circuit or fire hazard. This needs to be considered even if you're fishing wires but many light fittings come with built in cable clamps that provide strain relief when tightened correctly.

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