Concealed wiring in buildings


Old 05-08-07, 12:44 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 6
Concealed wiring in buildings


I'm doing a project for which I needed information on - "Why concealed/internal wiring replace external/open wiring?".
Anybody with answers and any additional information, please do let me know.

Sponsored Links
Old 05-08-07, 03:44 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,623
You may want to re-phrase your question. It is not very clear what you mean. Can you ask the project manager?
Old 05-08-07, 03:57 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 6
What I basically need to know is why is it that now-a-days people prefer to have the wiring done inside the walls and not outside, even though concealing the wiring has its disadvantages.
We (my project guide and I) do have some basic ideas, but need more definite information on this.
I hope I have made myself clear this time!
Old 05-08-07, 07:01 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,133
Your question is clear but the answer is so obvious it is unclear why you would even ask. Aesthetics is one obvious answer. Who would want conduit running across the wall in their home if they could avoid it. Sure there might be exceptions such as a person converting a former commercial space to a loft style apartment might do it intentionally to retain that "industrial" look but it would still be aesthetics.

Frankly I'm not sure concealing the wiring has that much disadvantage since it provides protection for the wire.
Old 05-08-07, 07:46 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
For the same reasons that the pipes and ducts are inside the walls. As the previous poster said, for protection and aesthetics. If changes are necessary, walls can be opened up. Drywall is cheap and easy.
Old 05-09-07, 12:39 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 6
Aesthetics and protection did seem to me too as the obvious reason, but my guide tells me that buildings can still look nice with external wiring (he is an architect, so he has to be right); and that concealed wiring has the major disadvantage of fires breaking out inside, which is much more dangerous than an open fire. So basically I'm looking for answers other than the obvious ones, which can pin point the exact reason why, whether its a weighing of the advantages and disadvantages of the various wiring methods, or is it because people are unaware of the dangers of concealing the wiring, etc.
Old 05-09-07, 05:08 AM
Speedy Petey's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,455
Concealed wiring is no more dangerous than exposed raceways if done properly. Unless you have some factual data to refute this.

I may be the consummate cynic, but I suspect there is more to this question than what's on the surface.
Why is this poster looking for a problem that does not necessarily exist?

If you live in a loft in NYC, then have your exposed conduit, piping and ductwork.
If you are like the 99.99% of the rest of us then have you wiring concealed in the walls where it belongs. For AESTHETIC reasons.
Old 05-09-07, 05:54 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 6
Hi Petey,

>> I may be the consummate cynic, but I suspect there is more to this question than what's on the surface.
Why is this poster looking for a problem that does not necessarily exist?

No hidden motives, I'm just tryin to make sure I got all the facts before reaching any conclusions.

I do not belong to NY, but since you do, I was wondering if you could help me out with the following questions -
1. How well is concealed wiring done in buildings there? Is it safe and according to the standards?
2. Do people there face any trouble with connections (years) later, and have to resort to breaking open the walls or putting in here and there an extra wiring on the outside?

The reason I'm asking this is simply because this happens here a lot. This is owing to the fact that a lot of the technicians dont do their job properly (they're either not qualified, or they cheat the owners or the owner himself wants to save money). In this process, they even dont ground the connections properly, and it results in mild shocks to electrocutions.; or the standards are not followed, which results in extra expenditure and trouble for the building owner after sometime.

Through my project, I'm hoping that something can be done to change this situation in here.
Old 05-09-07, 06:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 6,460

Why not ask the folks who buy the buildings which method they prefer?
Old 05-09-07, 07:03 AM
GregH's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Manitoba
Posts: 9,766
Would I be correct to assume that you are in India?

If so you need to understand that our trades are subject to a high level of scrutiny in the inspection process.
If your trades have no one watching their work then it is easy to understand how these problems exist in your area.
It seems like installing your wiring on the surface is a poor substitute for supervision.
It is a requirement here that there be no hidden connections and I suspect that this regulation could exist where you are.

The only reason fires could happen in concealed spaces is because owners, builders and designers allow this to happen.
Old 05-09-07, 07:31 AM
AxlMyk's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Earth
Posts: 889
Just because your guide is an Architect, doesn't mean he/she is right, or knows all.. I've seen some MAJOR building screwups because the architect had the "I am God" attitude..
Old 05-09-07, 07:47 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
I've seen statistics in the past about electrical fires. I don't have them now, but as I recall, very few of them were due to the concealed wiring. If you google around a bit, I'm guessing you can find these statistics somewhere on the web.
Old 05-09-07, 09:48 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,537
I would agree with John. Failures in the electrical system happen most frequently where wires come together (receptacles, switches, fixtures, etc) in junction boxes. It would be an extremely rare occurrence to have a continuous cable inside the wall spontaneously catch fire. Even when a concealed wire is damaged, the breaker will almost always trip. Just try driving a nail through the hot conductor of NM cable without also getting a solid hit on the bare ground conductor.

You also haven't mentioned what type of building materials are the walls constructed from. There's a huge difference between wiring a cast concrete building, a concrete block building and a wood frame/drywall building. Moreover, do you have drop ceilings with a plenum above, is the ceiling fastened directly to the joists, or exposed steel roof supports? What "looks good" depends a lot on the building itself.

Unless specifically asked to or forced to by circumstance, I would not use exposed wiring methods in a house. Before I did so, I would absolutely explain why exposed wiring is required and get the okay from the homeowner.
Old 05-09-07, 02:54 PM
Speedy Petey's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,455
There is not much I can add to Greg's post.

If you were up front with us from the start as to your location/situation there would not have been this ambiguousness.
I feel real sorry for you if that is what you are faced with as far as contractors/technicians go. I guess you have to do what you have to to watch out for them.
Old 05-09-07, 11:08 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 6
Thank you all!


Yes, I'm from India and sadly enough this is the situation in many places here.
My thanks to all for their informative replies, I guess what we need to do here is definitely not switching to external wiring, but to make the supervision more stringent.

I'm listing here the advantages of concealed wiring that I have gathered so far over older wiring methods, in case I have missed out any, please let me know.

>>Various Reasons for Growth of Concealed Wiring/ Advantages:
lesser installation cost,
installation ease,
wire is protected from rodents/deterioration/careless damage,
no electrocution if properly grounded

Can I conclude that if the standards are followed, then there wont be any fire at all or it could still happen sometimes (if yes, what can be the reason)?

And one last doubt, when wiring is done there in residential buildings, do you keep a map of how its done within the walls for possible future reference?

And Ben, our main building construction materials are concrete, bricks and stabilised mud blocks.
Old 05-10-07, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Nothing completely protects against fire or injury. We just do the best we can to achieve a realistic balance between safety, economics, and other factors.

If the installation is improperly installed, there are many possible sources of failure. The wrong size or type of wire might have been used, the wiring might have been damaged due to rough handling during installation, or the cable might not have been properly protected or secured.

Probably the largest hazard with properly-installed concealed wiring is the potential for physical damage. This could be caused by penetration of a nail or screw, or perhaps by settling of the structure.

I don't know anybody that maps out the cable routing in residential installations. Generally, it's not even planned out in advance. It's just designed as it is installed.
Old 05-10-07, 08:29 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: CA
Posts: 2,041
MONEY certainly can be a factor. It is cheaper to build a house with ROMEX cable then with conduit....less labor cost. but even in cases where conduit is required ( NY, Chicago, multi story, commercial, etc) concealed wiring is still somewhat less expensive and much more pleasing.

I concur with several others who have opined that electrical fires almost always occur at a connection...that is a switch, outlet,etc. where a loose connection can occur. It is the loose connection which can heat up. This is why stringent electrical codes do not allow ANY connections in locations which are concealed. The contiuous run wires are inheretly very safe. Accidental damage by a screw or nail is possible, but that can happen with wiring in the open as well, even in conduit.

In a country where labor costs are not as significant a factor, then other choices may make sense. Also, where construction methods are other than stick built frame construction, that also opens other necessities.
Old 05-23-07, 02:48 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 6
New Query!

Thank you all for your help so far.
I got a new query this time.
Does anyone know anything about 'Wood Casing Wiring Method' and 'Batten Wiring Method'? As they're both outdated methods of wiring, I cant seem to find much information on them online.

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes