Wires on Face of Beam In Unfinished Basement

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Old 11-21-13, 10:30 AM
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Wires on Face of Beam In Unfinished Basement

I am trying to figure out whether it is up to code to staple nm along the face of a support beam in an unfinished basement. I have read several places that using the support beams is acceptable, but it doesn't look right. The beam runs the length of the basement below the joists, so it is a little like running wire along a wall without protection.

If that is allowed, is there anything to look out for in transitions from the beam to running along the sides of the joists? Specifically if I run straight up from the face of the beam to the face of the joist there is a small gap where the wire is not against wood.

One final question. My service panel has knockouts on the side. Does the nm wire running to those knockouts need to be protected in conduit or can it be stapled to the plywood around the service panel?
 
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Old 11-21-13, 11:43 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

I am trying to figure out whether it is up to code to staple nm along the face of a support beam in an unfinished basement. I have read several places that using the support beams is acceptable, but it doesn't look right. The beam runs the length of the basement below the joists, so it is a little like running wire along a wall without protection.
First of all, All codes is local. That means you'll have to get the real answer from your inspector. As far as a general answer goes, it's almost always preferable to run the cable through holes in the joists.

Two questions: What is the height to the bottom of the beam, and how are you planning to finish your basement ceiling?

If that is allowed, is there anything to look out for in transitions from the beam to running along the sides of the joists? Specifically if I run straight up from the face of the beam to the face of the joist there is a small gap where the wire is not against wood.
How so? Wouldn't it go straight from one to the other?

One final question. My service panel has knockouts on the side. Does the nm wire running to those knockouts need to be protected in conduit or can it be stapled to the plywood around the service panel?
Different answers in different jurisdictions. Ask your inspector. Will the Type NM be exposed to physical damage in that area?
 
  #3  
Old 11-21-13, 04:14 PM
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Its 7 feet to the bottom of the 8 inch beam. I am not finishing the basement at all except to add some gfci protected outlets, replace fluorescent lights, and update and replace old wiring. I am also adding dedicated circuits for laundry and hot water (the heat for these is gas, the wiring is for motors.)

The house was built in the late 1930's or early 40's and has a combination of old bx and some black cloth cable around insulated wires. It is all ungrounded, except for the minimal ground provided by the bx sheathing, and in several places the covering of the cloth cable has come off between joists. There are also some patches of the bx that were separated and then soldered and taped. Most of the fluorescent lights have some kind of taped connection outside the light fixture. So what I am really trying to do is eliminate all the unsafe "features" in the wiring without creating more of my own.

The house has forced air heat with lots of vents running in the ceiling that make running wires through the joists difficult. There is also a hole for an old stair case that has no joists through it that is in the center of the basement. I am using the existing holes in the joists for some of the wiring. I am hesitant about adding any more holes to the joists.
 
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Old 11-21-13, 05:30 PM
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Running along the beam and turning up and alongside the joist would be acceptable according the the NEC. The slight gap is not an issue.

If you are planning multiple runs along the same area I would use something like a 3M Stak-it.
 
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Old 11-21-13, 09:39 PM
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I am using the existing holes in the joists for some of the wiring. I am hesitant about adding any more holes to the joists.
How many runs do you need to make? 3/4" holes centered in the joists, no closer than 2' from either end and 1' between holes will let you run up to 3 cables in each with no significant deterioration in the strength of the joists.
 
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Old 11-22-13, 06:12 AM
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I need to run three circuits. There are already 7 or 8 holes in some of the joists. I might be able to use some of the existing holes, but that would require removing the old wire, and losing the lights and/or furnace, before installing the new wire.

@pcboss

Thanks for the suggestion on the 3M stak-its. They look like they would make things a lot tidier. I have a hard time running one wire straight, three will inevitably look like spaghetti.
 
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