Hot Water Heater Wiring

The wiring for this hot water heater isn’t in conduit. Is it required to be in conduit? Sorry for the simple question. I’m new at this and I’m trying to make sure I get it right.



NO it does not have to be in Conduit…except in maybe ILLINOIS…lol…

But it does have to be supported correctly and in a proper connector and so on.

EDITED- YEP…Virginia allows it in NM…Obviously NOT everywhere else…:slight_smile:

Seems I DONT KNOW JACK.( well we all KNOW the protection issue…but in MY opinion in MY installs the protection is not a issue.)…and neither do the AHJ’s in my STATE…:slight_smile:

One of our OTHER masters should be able to assist you…:slight_smile:

Paul, it might be where he is. We are required to use a piece of flex with fittings to protect the NM. If there’s no flex on the truck we just use liquidtite.

It must be protected.
NEC 334.15(B) Protection from Physical Damage.

There was a similiar thread over at late last year. It apparently is not allowed in Florida, where Jerry Peck works, but we allow it here in San Diego (not sure about what they do up there in Santa Clarita :wink: ).

Physical Damage is always a thought when using NM…should go without saying now for the most part BUT in this case I just dont see the need unless the LOCAL ruling calls for it…you can’t go writting up EVERYTHING you see unless you know exactly what the cause and effect of it is and it could just come back to haunt you…

I have been wiring homes for 18 years…NOT once has any county I have installed in required any REAL protection on this usualy because the location is not in a place likely to endure physical damage…

I think again or they SHOULD by now…any NM exposed has to be protected from physical damage…BUT I am telling you in MOST areas just plain NM will be fine to a water heater…Also may have been allowed at the time it was done…are you going to request an Electrician come back to sleeve this in a report?..I did not start my electrical career yesteday Mr. Parks…:)…Mr. Lily is our HEAD inspector in the area for example and the current president of the IAEA and he would not require it to be protected other than what it is…

I personally dont see a problem with it except for the support…again every AHJ is different so NO one answer is the RIGHT answer…

That was my contention with Jerry Peck. He and I had one of our little disagreements over this issue.


I will elaborate on that…If I am the Inspector and I call out a SIMPLE NM to a water heater in a location that is not likely to be in a issue of physical damage per say…and I call that out and the Home Owners calls ME the electrician out for THAT…I can see the Electrician RAZZING the HI to death about it…Just too petty REGARDLESS of the NM protection rule…

If the Water Heater is slammed in a closet and the wires are subject to things being stacked on it, damaged is possible for the most part.

If someone does not think I am 100% aware of the Protection rule on NM then well…they have not read my other posts…:slight_smile:

Fact is…how many AHJ’s allow plain SE to come down to the Meter Cab and then down into the wall…on the surface…ALOT and without protection even…We could go on ALL day about protection but is is really up to the AHJ to FORCE that call when in doubt…

Kinda like sending your KID to the playground in BODY ARMOR…sure he will be safer but…come on…we have to have some lines as again is it not BLACK and WHITE…AHJ’s have room to require.

Me telling the GUY…YES it has to be in a protective CONDUIT is the same thing…May not in other areas…MAY BE in HIS area…MAY NOT be in VIRGINIA which it is not…none of the AHJ’s will require it and I know them…most all of them…

SO it is a loaded question…BUT nothing I am going to call out in this case except I would like to see more cable as it seems tight…and no support to the NM…but again the question was does it have to be in Conduit…what so you say…to keep it short…YES or NO…I say…NO based on MY experience and it may be different in other areas…like ILLINOIS…but I can’t list all states it may be different…lol

I am a DIEHARD CODE GUY…but this one is gray for me…I personally in over 18 years of wiring homes have never sleeved the NM in conduit or LT to protect it…and NEVER has it been called out and I know the CODE rather well…

Another Opinion: **334.15 Exposed Work :mrgreen: **

(A) To Follow Surface. Cable shall closely follow the surface of the building finish or of running boards.

334.30 (B) Unsupported Cables. Nonmetallic-sheathed cable shall be permitted to be unsupported where the cable:

(1) Is fished between access points through concealed spaces in finished buildings or structures and supporting is impracticable.

(2) Is not more than 1.4 m (4 1/ 2 ft) from the last point of cable support to the point of connection to a luminaire (lighting fixture) or other piece of electrical equipment and the cable and point of connection are within an accessible ceiling.

Section 334.30(B)(2) permits short, unsupported lengths of nonmetallic-sheathed cable for luminaire and equipment connections.

Reference: 2005 NEC

This wiring method is not permitted to be used as described, and may also be not of the proper temperature rating.

This has been a well known fact by the electrical industry for many years!

As I continue in this industry, I find more and more things that the AHJs allow here in San Diego that don’t seem to be allowed in other areas of the country, or even in California, further north of me, like in Santa Clarita in Jeff Pope’s neighborhood. We do allow what’s shown in the picture here in San Diego. Of course, after the power crisis of 2000-2001, most everyone has replaced their electric water heaters with gas water heaters or tankless water heaters.

I have never seen an electric WH wired in this manner, so I’ve never had a reason to research it.

I have only seen it in FMC or LFMC (as I would expect). Usually, directly to a switch or breaker.

I must say, I certainly don’t like the look of the NM wiring method and I will call my AHJ if I ever come across it :wink:

Paul agreed that your AHJ may not require it.

Every ESI in the central Ohio area will fail you for not protecting it.

Safety is the issue. The above is an unsafe condition.

Tuesday evening I’ll confirm this with the past president of the Ohio Chapter of the IAEI.

I live in Florida and 99 times out of 100 you will find the NM cable coming out of hole, thats right, a hole, knocked in the wall without any kind of support, j box or anything remotely resembling neat, clean workmanship. The only place it is normally secured is at the top of the WH where you may find an NM clamp. Then again you may not. The AHJ passes it every time. These are the same guys that allows Weaver clamps to be used on the ground rods and buried in the yard. Most of those corrode completely away in a couple of years. Find many cases where just the old rusted screws can be found, with the grounding conductor standing proudly in the air.

lol…All I can say is…I have wired THOUSANDS of homes with NM to the water heater…Have well over 150 electrician friends in VA who also do the same thing…lol…now I may be a NEC Consultant and I know about physical protection…

But I can promise you this JOE…my NEXT water heater wiring will be NM like it has been since 1988 when I did my very first house…:slight_smile:


 Just not worth my time.....when I give an OPINION on something other than just SPOUTING code I get I will keep my OPINIONS to myself....

 Got a Water Heater to wire Monday....Guess WHAT.....I am using the local inspector JOE and tell him to fail me...:)

**[FONT=Times New Roman][size=3]Article 336 - 1993 Edition of the NEC:

B. Installation

[/size][/FONT]336-10. Exposed Work — General. **In exposed work,
except as provided in Sections 300-11(a), 336-12, and 336-13,
the cable shall be installed as specified in (a) and (b) below.

**(a) To Follow Surface. **The cable shall closely follow the
surface of the building finish or of running boards.

I am prepared to discuss earlier editions of the NEC. This is from the earliest on disk that I have.

lol…Again I am in AW of you Mr. Tedesco…I will simply let you have the floor…:slight_smile:

Still using NM on MONDAY…I am 100% sure Mr. Lilly will not mind :slight_smile:

From the 1978 NEC purchased from Joe T.

This is the first place that I found that it must be protected. 336.6

And it was in effect before that but I do not know when it was first adopted.

lol…I am not arguing the protection…lol…thats what I find as funny…I just happen to have an OPINION that it is not really subject to any physical damage if DONE correctly…regardless of the picture…lol

Anyway…I am 100% sure the CURRENT president of the IAEA will not turn down NM to a Water Heater on Monday…lol…never has…guess I fall in to the OLD electrician habit here…NM works fine for me…Not CODE…just done it that way for years…had talks about it to AHJ’s WELL before it came up here and they simply did not care…lol…

My point is…if the HI ( which I am as well ) plan on calling that out…other than the OTHER issues with that image…I am speaking JUST on the NM to the WaterHeater issue…they better be able to BACK it up with the local AHJ before they call an Electrician out…that local AHJ might not think it is subject to any physical damage because you would have to DAMAGE the water heater technically to GET to the wire in the first place…UNLESS it was stuffed in a closet…where something could be laid on it and damage the cable…I have seen this and MADE my guys protect it…

Just dont like the Blanket Statement it has to be in Conduit…I know MANY local AHJ’s who allow SE from the meter cab down into the panel…unprotected…GRAY area…If a HI called out JUST the fact NM was used on EVERY house…the LIST would be sooooo loooong

NM under the sink to the disposal…YEP…protect it…it gets things JAMED on it DAILY…a waterheater stuck in a room or basement…wires coming over to it directly from the wall…taped to the cold water pipe…and terminated into the WH correctly…I don’t concern myself over that…sorry

I will turn in my NEC Badge…


Again you are correct. It is the AHJ’s call.

We just think he is wrong, not you. Well you might be.:mrgreen: