Exposed romex in garage below 7 feet. (help)

Detached garage…outlets test correct wiring, light switches work.
Should the exposed wiring be noted as a serious correction needing
an immediate correction? ( highlighted red in the summary) Or just
noted in the body of the report.

I would recommend they have a Electrician fasten the Romex properly and protect it, but I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it.

I put it in the Summary. But I don’t distinguish between that and a missing drain stop. (I don’t use red.)

I would point it out also.

Especially where a young chap with a Pocket Knife could be a little adventurous—better safe than sorry indeed.

All defects goes in my summary.

Is the concern for a violation of the NEC (if so, does anyone know the section?), local code, or is it just a possible problem for damage?

I’d like to know what the concern is as well. . .

Refer to NEC Sections 334.10B and 334.12

I’d like to know what the concern is as well. . .

Refer to NEC Sections 334.10B and 334.12

Other than the Romex not being fastened properly within 12" of the jbox, I have no issue with it (in a garage).

In a finished garage, if the romex was run on the outside of the drywall, would it then be a concern?


inside the wall cavity i have no issues with it…on the surface of drywall , that’s a different story

Yes, then considered unprotected.

Thank you.

Following is a similar question and one of the better responses found in the following Message Board: ICC Bulletin Board » Code Chat » Electrical Codes » NM-B cable exposed in garage:


In the Residential Code of NYS, at Table E3701.4 column #8 "**NM**" and row #15 indicate that **NM** run **exposed** and subject to physical damage is not permitted. This seems to indicate that wiring a residential auto garage with "romex" in the open stud-bays would not be permitted since the wiring could be deemed "subject to physical damage".

In the 2002 NEC, if I enter the code at 334.10 Uses Permitted, I note that NM is permitted in one family dwellings. Assuming the garage is attached, it is made a part of the dwelling. 334.10(A) permits NM for dry, exposed locations.
334.15 indicates that exposed wiring shall closely follow the surface of the building finish or of running boards. 334.15(B) indicates that cable shall be protected from physical damage where necessary.

Keeping that in mind, here are the questions:

  1. Is romex run through bored holes in open studding at waist level within the garage subect to physical damage?
    if so,
  2. Is it necessary to enclose the wiring within a sheathing such as 1/2 gypsum board to protect this wiring method from physical abuse?

Thanks in advance for any interpretation you may offer.

Response from:
The Electrical Guru](;u=00013656)

I don't believe the NEC is vague on this. To both answers I would say Yes.

Yes, it is subject to physical damage in the nature of the question asked.

Yes, Putting it behind Gypsum would make it not exposed and would meet the NEC.

90.4 gives us the inspector alot of levy in regards to interp. but we have to be understanding in the application.

If they ran NM Cable up lets say 8’ above the floor and it was exposed and in my interp. not subject to unintential physical damage then I would be fine with it.

The quick answer here is we Can’t Fix Stupid or Stupid Proof everything for the consumer but we can help protect the obvious.

Paul W. Abernathy
NEC Consultant/Lecturer/Author
CEU Provider - Virginia
ICC/IAEI Plans Examiner/Inspector

  • Mike Holt Video Team Member

So, it sounds to me that this is a gray area that is subject to interpretation as to what could be subject to damage. I don’t see it as a code violation but should be noted as something that could be addressed by the buyer after the sale.

I agree with Paul’s answer as well Gary…!!

Better safe than sorry.

If you were down here in San Diego County, it would be more than just a note. I’m familiar with at least one lawsuit here that resulted from the home inspector failing to point out the safety hazards with exposed wiring below seven feet in a garage.

Hi Russ,

I certainly don’t doubt it, just for an example, a child takes a Pocket Knife and starts carving on the pretty conductors, well, you know the gig.

lol…I see some of my posts over on EC & M made it here…lol…Ironically in the 2011 NEC it will be a moot issue as they will allow the NM Cable to be exposed. But until 2011…my response holds true…:wink:


That is called natural selection. But your very post will probably generate a new requirement for a box of romex. “Do not carve on the conductors with a pocket knife.” Sort of like the, “Do not put hands under a running lawnmower”. Nature’s way of thinning the heard. :roll: