How to protect stud cavity filled with wires

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Old 11-25-12, 09:03 PM
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How to protect stud cavity filled with wires

I am dealing with the work of a previous homeowner, and am wondering what to do with a wall cavity near to the front door where there are three 5 gang boxes full of switches (which control all of the lights on the exterior and property). The cavity has wires that have been pulled from both above and beneath, nearly twenty, that aren't fixed to anything. It wouldn't be possible to hold them all down with staples and even if so I'd worry about their collective heat causing a problem. Should I protect the entire cavity somehow or is there another way to handle this apart from closing it up and remembering never to drive a nail anywhere near there?

Thanks for any guidance
-Tim
 
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Old 11-25-12, 09:23 PM
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remembering never to drive a nail anywhere near there?
What else can you really do. You'd have to pull those wires out to junction boxes, splice them and then run them back to the switches. You would have to know where everything goes and what it does which is higly unlikely to happen.

You may be able to run furring or like a 1x2 between the beams to fasten the wires. Maybe stackers like I've shown below would help.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 10:05 PM
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I bought some protector plates that are about 2X3" that nail onto the surface of the studs to protect wire runs from accidental nails and screws. Could you do something similar with a piece of metal ducting fastened over the cavity?

Aside from that, aren't you supposed to bring everything up to code once you've opened it up if there are electrical issues? I'd be more concerned with the spagetti mess of wiring not being fastened and the potential for fire with loose cabling.
 
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Old 11-25-12, 10:18 PM
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Much appreciated. I may seek out those stackers. But as to knowing the why and where of everything, I made a point of that.. even the 3 conductor wires which pass an as-yet-unused hot to another location. But the wires are all good, and still need to make it to those switches. So I could cut them back to junction boxes and still need to run as many wires into the cavity. I have an urge to plate the whole thing with sheet steel, but it's probably just my granddad coming through.

edit: @Sinoed it seems you hit on what I was thinking, though aluminum ducting I don't think would be enough protection. And yes, I'm concerned about code violations, but much is relative when you live in Code Violation Hell. I am stubbornly fixing the mistakes of the jerk who lived here before me and regularly come to jaw dropping moments. I have to admit- this wall cavity is a new low.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 04:34 AM
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Redo using conduit (EMT or rigid) and THHN. Redo using relays and low voltage wiring to the switches.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 08:08 AM
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ray2047

Redo using conduit (EMT or rigid) and THHN. Redo using relays and low voltage wiring to the switches.
15 relays, conduit, transformers...sounds like you're suggesting an industrial electrical panel be installed on the wall.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 10:32 AM
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Hey, paint it pink with butterflies it's residential.

That was to separate solutions. No conduit with LV wiring. Conduit would on the other hand reduce the chance of a puncture. The LV approach could be done with residential LV wiring methods assuming some company still makes those. Of course you could combine the two and use a multi-pair LV cable like thermostat wire in a metal conduit.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 02:27 PM
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Well, thanks. I mean it sincerely, though I'm not looking forward to what's ahead. Everything is accessible, so redoing with conduit is certainly possible. Just not fun.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 03:02 PM
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@ blargendarg,
Although 15 switches in one spot may be an eyesore it sounds like your only real issue is the unsecured romex? I like the plastic "ladders" though I suppose some other sort of "comb" could be bought or fabricated--if the wires aren't hopelessly tangled. If they were routed in the center of the cavity I wouldn't be concerned at all about punctures.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 05:58 PM
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The cables only need to be 1.25" from the face of the stud or more. Less than that requires protection.
 
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Old 11-26-12, 08:06 PM
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This might be a good application to add a few "Colorado Jims".

Can be used to support up to 6 runs of nonmetallic sheathed cable or up to 4 runs of MC and AC cable.
"Colorado Jim" Cable Support: CJ6
 
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Old 11-26-12, 11:44 PM
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wow.. lots of options. thanks, everyone. @guy48065 it's the sheer amount of unsecured romex and the creative and circuitous path it often takes to the box (above, beneath, golden spiral?), but I may be able to sort it out and use one of these things to keep it all in the center of the cavity.

and here i was beginning to puzzle at how i was going to reach the middle (vertically speaking) box with conduit.
 
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Old 11-27-12, 06:25 AM
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Turn a piece of 2x material flat in the stud cavity horizontal between the studs. You now have plenty of area for the cables to be secured.
 
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Old 11-27-12, 10:38 AM
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I feel your pain blargendarg. My house was wired (and plumbed) by an amateur but it looks like he knew the basics so the wires are straight and are secured. My 1st and 2nd cottages were wired by by blind retards on psychotic drugs. Zig-zagging Romex, all twisted, taped splices not even in a box, sometimes several spices on the same run, wrong gauges, loose screws...I could go on & on. Dig this:



That should make you feel a little better about your project!
 
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Old 11-27-12, 12:12 PM
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Bwahahaha, thanks, it's good to commiserate. I've encountered some similar things around here... no pics of this, but the 'best' was probably when reinsulating and re-siding I found electrical boxes that had been filled with grout and tiled over when the backsplash in the kitchen was redone - live and unconnected wires still inside the boxes(!) I had to turn them off at the panel and cut the boxes open with a dremel just to get them out of there.

But hey, he installed like a dozen smoke detectors so no foul, right?
 
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Old 11-27-12, 05:29 PM
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At todays copper prices I bet he would be a little more stingy!
 
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