Romex/Electrical install question...

Hiya Folks, I've thumbed through the NEC Code book and couldn't find (or missed) an answer to this install question. Is there a minimum height that Romex needs to be installed above the finished floor? I'm trying to add a circuit for outdoor lighting and want the light switch in with the other hall switches. Unfortunately, I'd have to tear into the drywall to do it and quite frankly, I'm a pretty poor mud/tape/texture guy. I was hoping to come in and put the romex down low and cover it up with a new baseboard (rabbited in the back to cover the wiring). I'll prolly have to install some sort of metal plate in the rabbit to protect the wire from future nails should there be any but I wouldn't think that would be too difficult. Another option would be to install the wiring in wiremold and then recess this into the back of the baseboard. I'm going to wood floors so the baseboard will be fairly substantial and I shouldn't have a problem fitting the wiring into it. Just not sure if this is allowed by the NEC or not. Thanks much, jlc
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James "Cubby" Culbertson wrote:

If you are removing the baseboard anyway just cut away the plaster behind it. This will give you access to the bottom of the wall studs. Just bore a hole in the center of each stud a few inches up from the plate. The whole should be no bigger than 3/4" and must actually be centered. You then pull your new cable through the bored holes and fish it up to the switch box.
-- Tom Horne
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous for general use." Thomas Alva Edison
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Hiya, I'm not removing the drywall. And if I did, it would only be a couple of inches at most which means I wouldn't be high enough to reach the studs. So no fishing through studs here. I could remove some of the drywall, say a couple of inches, and mount the wires directly to the sill plates (bottom of wall). I'd still need a 1/16" plate of some sort for protection. I'm just wondering if this is legal to mount so close to the floor. I can't see why it wouldn't be but not sure. This is for a bedroom, not a wet location. Cheers, cc
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Listen romex CANNOT be left into exposed areas where people live.
Cutting the drywall near the floor really isnt that bad. You can patch and hack it up to your hearts content when you are finished because you'll be covering it up with molding.
If your saving the effort (an money) of using an electician, get new colonial moldings (4" high) and they will cover it all up.
If you use condiut or BX cable in those areas, it'll look like crap. If the time ever comes to sell it, it WILL be a problem with an inspector. (they might not like it and may ask if you ever got a permit for the work done)
Tom P.S. the other option is if its a crawl space or a basement under the floor is to drill up through the floor into the walls. Too much of a pain in the ass if you ask me.
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Ok, I do not have a crawl space or basement. If I removed 4" of drywall from the bottom of the wall, I still couldn't get into the studs very well (~ 1" to get a drill in there etc... I'm not sure that would work very well). I haven't decided yet on mouldings so I may have some lee way there in terms of taking more drywall out. Anyway, thanks for the inputs. Cheers, cc
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Have you considered wainscotting? That would cover the lower 36" of the wall - LOTS of room to remove drywall and hit the center of the studs withe 5/8" hole. It would probably look classier in the long run as well!
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I have and no, it won't work for me. This house is a southwestern style house and wainscotting just wouldn't look right. If it were a more traditional style house, then yes, I'd be considering that route. Cheers, cc
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Cubby wrote:

I am suggesting that you remove the drywall that will be hidden by the baseboard. If your using six inch base board then you will have access to more than enough of the bottom of the stud to bore centered holes through them. By pulling the cable through those centered holes it will be the requisite one and one quarter inches from the face of the stud and no further protection against nails and screws is required by the US NEC. You then pad out the wall to the thickness of the drywall using lumber that is plained to that thickness if necessary. If the drywall and backing boards are fastened with screws you can remove it again if the need arises. Since this does not result in the need to finish drywall you can produce a finished job with a good appearance. -- Tom Horne
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous for general use." Thomas Alva Edison
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James,

I don't think it matters as long as the cable is adequately protected.
I ran mine along the top of the sole plate inside our walls to make insulating easier. My inspector had no problems with it.

Have you investigated other routes for the wire?
Maybe run the wire down to a basement or crawlspace, over to the other side, then back up to the lights?
Or maybe up into the attic, over to the other side, then back down to the lights?

I don't think that would pass code, as it would be too easy to pierce the cable with a nail or screw. Bare romex should be set back at least 1-1/2" from the face of the studs (so 1-5/8" drywall screws won't pierce it).
As another poster mentioned, you may be able to remove the baseboard, cut away the plaster behind it, and drill holes in the studs. Then fish your cable, fill the gap with sheetrock or wood, and reapply the baseboard. This would be fairly easy if your baseboard is 4-6 inches high. Difficult to impossible if it's only 2" high. :)
If you REALLY do not have any alternatives, I would run conduit behind the baseboard, then run individual wires through the conduit (no romex in conduit). I would probably cut away the plaster and set the conduit in that area, rather than cut into the baseboard. But, depending on the size of conduit you use, you might have to do both.

If you are "installing" new wood floors, another option would be to route the wiring in the floor. If the joists run the right direction, you may be able to cut a couple of holes at each end and fish the wire along the joist bay. Otherwise, it wouldn't be that difficult to cut back the subfloor, drill through the joists, run your cable, and reattach the subfloor. Then add your new wood flooring.
Good luck!
Anthony
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Hiya Anthony, Thanks for the inputs. Unfortunately, it appears my approach may be the only option I have (a few variations). I have no basement, no crawlspace, no joists, and no attic. This is a slab on grade, flat roofed house so many of the options you list won't work. I was under the impression that if I protect the wire with 1/16" metal, I could pretty much mount anywhere (ie, in the wall behind the molding or the moulding itself), at least that's how they do it with adobe walls here and I saw many references to this method in the NEC. Just wasn't sure if I could mount that low to the floor. As I said, I can't imagine why but at the end of the day, the NEC is a helluva lot smarter than I am! Thanks for all the help! Cheers, cc
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Cubby,

Oh, that explains a lot... :)

As long as the metal was at least a few inches high, probably so. Remember that nails sometimes hit knots and bend when they get driven in. So, you may protect the face of the wire, only to have a nail driven higher bend down and penetrate the wire from the top.
That's why I suggested conduit. It protects all around the wiring. It can even be left exposed if you wish, though it would look terrible! :)
Anthony
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Thanks Anthony. I just haven't given much thought to the wood floors yet as this wall has consumed all my project thoughts :). But, I am now thinking about the conduit route as I will probably have moulding that is taller than I do now and more stout. Thanks for all your help. It appears I can install close to the floor at least and that was my main concern. Now to work out the details. Cheers, cc

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I still dont get why cutting an inch or two from the bottom to drill into the studs and run wires up a few inches to the outlets is a big deal. It really isnt. To put the outlets in, buy a few "old work" outlets, measure and cut out the sheetrock. Run all your wires, put the outlets into the walls and click them in place. You are not ripping apart the walls and its something that any good electrician would do.
In the end it will look like the house always had it. Running wires like this looks crappy and will be flagged by an inspector some day. So why bother?
Tom
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The sill plates sit 3" above the slab. For me to gain access to the studs, I'd have to remove more than "an inch or two". More like 4-6". I'm not putting any outlets in. Only a switch. I still may be able to do this however, depending on the moulding I decide on for the baseboards. I would prefer to go this route but still not sure I can until I get to planning the wood floor and baseboard project. As for looking crappy, no one would ever see what I had proposed unless they tear off the baseboards. It would look the same as installing the wire through the studs in the wall. Cheers, cc

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Just to follow-up, here's what I ended up doing. I figured I'd be putting 4-5 inch moulding on the walls after I do the floors so I basically removed the drywall 4 inches from the floor. That was enough to get my drill in there to punch holes through the studs. I had one corner that I had to notch the framing vs. drill it but put plates over the romex for protection. All in all, not a big deal and it'll all get covered up soon anyway. Thanks for all the suggestions. Cheers, cc
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back
NEC
putting
removed
protection.
Thanks
The rules for new construction are one thing.
Retrofitting an existing building is another.
And local codes can vary as to what passes and what does not. (but it usually comes down to common sense things)
If in doubt, and there is a higher chance of the wire being damaged by nails etc. most areas require you cover with a metal plate (as you are already doing) and/or use armored cable (BX) of a suitable gauge for the load, and that the circuit be properly fused.
AMUN
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