Attaching Romex to rafters

I cannot find this specifically in code, so here is my question. When Romex is run across rafters in an open, unfinished attic it is my position that a raceway of some kind (1x3’s or even 2x4’s) should first be attached across the affected rafters, perhaps 3’ to 4’ above the joists, then the wiring be stapled to the raceway. This will protect the wiring from being accidentally snagged or otherwise damaged, especially along a long run across the attic.

I’ve noticed that some electricians do not use a raceway and simply staple the wiring to the underside of each rafter. I presume to save time and labor. Does NEC specifically address the issue of attaching Romex to rafters and how do inspectors normally handle this situation. Tks.

The NEC refers to Non-Metallic sheathed cable in many areas, including Securing & Supporting, at 334.30

Dom.

A raceway encloses conductors. You do not staple cables to a raceway. What you are describing is a running board.

The relevant article is in 320.23.In Accessible Attics
(A) Cables Run Across the Top of Floor Joists. Where run across the top of floor joists, or within 2.1 m (7 foot) of the floor or floor joists across the face of rafters or studding, the cable shall be protected by guard strips at least as high as the cable. Where this space is not accessible by permanent stairs or ladders, protection shall only be required within 1.8 m (6 foot) of the nearest edge of the scuttle or attic entrance.

(B) Cables installed Parallel to Framing Members. Where the cable is installed parallel to the sides of rafters, studs, or ceiling or floor joists, neither guard strips nor running boards shall be required, and the installation shall also comply with 300.4(D).

Yes, I should have stated running boards, not raceway. Sorry about that. So reading paragraph (A), I guess the guard strips are indeed necessary if the cable is attached to the face of the rafters within 7’ or less of the floor or floor joists.

The reason I bring this up is because the attic I am referencing had the cable stapled along the face of the rafters approx 3’ above the floor space, but not protected by running boards, just stapled in place. Which “technically” would not meet code.

Which brings up a very good question IMHO. Are we code inspectors or where do you draw the line with what to bring up and what not to? I’m sure there are many codes not covered in the training, but would you bring up a discrepancy like that even though it likely poses no danger to the client or the structure? know, codes are there for a reason, I’m just asking because one might also ask how old the house is… if the house is 50 years old, that code may not have existed at that time - do we do the research to see what codes were in place back then?

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A home inspection is a general visual inspection and not a code inspection. You should not make statements about code unless you are a code inspector and you can cite the code exactly as it is written in that locale and you are doing a ‘code inspection". Cities often revise and customize certain specific codes and that is the code that matters. There is liability in making code comments. Just do a visual inspection and make general observations. If you see what you know is a code violation, make a statement such as: "it is recommended in some cities that Romex type wires be encased in conduit to protect the wiring’.

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Thank you sir, that was precisely what I was trying to get confirmation on. I never make comments on code, but if I see something that is “not right” I try to point the client to maybe getting a licensed professional to check it out.

320.23 In Accessible Attics. Type AC cables in accessible
attics or roof spaces shall be installed as specified in
320.23(A) and (B).

(A) Cables Run Across the Top of Floor Joists. Where
run across the top of floor joists, or within 2.1 m (7 ft) of
the floor or floor joists across the face of rafters or studding,
the cable shall be protected by substantial guard strips that
are at least as high as the cable. Where this space is not
accessible by permanent stairs or ladders, protection shall
only be required within 1.8 m (6 ft) of the nearest edge of
the scuttle hole or attic entrance.

(B) Cable Installed Parallel to Framing Members.
Where the cable is installed parallel to the sides of rafters,
studs, or ceiling or floor joists, neither guard strips nor
running boards shall be required, and the installation shall
also comply with 300.4(D).

Roy, thanks very much for your detailed response. I was seeking guidance specifically from a code inspector’s point of view on the issue I presented at the outset, and the info you offered is very helpful. And thanks for everyone else’s input as well. I agree home inspectors should flag egregious code violations and make the homeowner aware of issues that may cause problems down the road. Also fully understand that in “real world” situations there is often a wide gap as to what is “acceptable and safe” as opposed to what is technically “code incorrect and a potential safety hazard.” Keep up the good work everyone.

I’m always here to help if I can…Anytime.
Have a great day.

Hey Roy, your first reference is for AC cable, standard residential wiring is Romex or NM cable. Most jurisdictions are not going to call out the romex stapled to underside of rafters or trusses. Protection only required near the entrance or walking surface if provided.

Roy’s reference if for both AC cable and NM cable. In a report don’t call NM cable Romex. :smiley:

334.23 In Accessible Attics. The installation of cable in accessible attics or roof spaces shall also comply with 320.23.

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The NEC does not say anything about Romex®️. I suggest that you leave the electrical work to electricians.

Home Inspectors are not code compliance or enforcement inspectors. Building codes are complex and require a depth of understanding of the respective trades than home inspectors need to have.

In order to be a code compliance inspector, an inspector would need to be extremely well versed in every code for every trade covering a period of 200 years or more. Further, the inspector would need to know which codes were used and the local interpretations of those codes.

I am a home inspector who has done many inspections over many years. Am not an expert in every trade. I have a good working knowledge of construction and how to recognize material defects and deficiencies. That’s what a home inspector does.

I am an expert in one trade, electrical. I am a master electrician, electrical contractor, electrical engineer, and a forensic electrical consultant. It takes considerable effort to maintain expertise in a single skill field.

Every time I have been asked for a second opinion on something that a home inspector said was wrong and cited an electrical code, the inspector has been wrong. I don’t think there has been a single exception.