Is Romex in a crawl space a problem?


Is there any problem with romex installed in a crawl space, or are we supposed to install EMT, “Thinwall” as they do in Chicago?

What about “BX” any problems with that wiring method in a crawl space?

My personal opinion:

If its a damp location, both BX and Romex would not be permitted, and using EMT is OK but not the best way out. One could install Type UF Cable instead.

I think the question you posed deserves an official answer. Simply because a crawlspace exists, does not automatically qualify it as a damp location.

Further, if the romex simply passes through the space, even it it is damp, should not necessarily cause a problem. As to damp locations, I believe the restriction is more specific, as to the amount of moisture present. And, the truth of the matter is that there are thousands of homes where this cable is installed in damp crawlspaces. The question is whether the crawlspace is simply damp, or actually wet. I also question the question, in its entirety, as the NEC specifies a normally dry location. I do not believe crawlspaces are constructed, nor acceptable, in a normally wet condition.

I agree that damp locations may be problematic for metallic sheathed cabling, from the standpoint of the long-term affect of the moisture on the sheathing. As we know, some metallic sheathed cables have a separate conductor embedded inside the sheathing for grounding, while others have aluminum tracer wound around the sheathing, which is not affected by rust, and is installed to specifically allow a continuous grounding path via the metallic sheathing. Either scenario is no more affected than EMT will be. EMT will rust in time. For some applications, sealed fittings are required on EMT.

I believe the correct answer is that it depends. It depends on whether the crawlspace is truly considered as a damp location. Was it designed to be normally dry or normally wet, because the latter brings in an entire new set of rules for the inspector. The conditions are determined on-site.

Then, the question as to why the crawlspace is damp or wet raises other questions, like are site drainage issues causing the problem. Is there adequate ventilation in the crawlspace? Why is it wet? Then, are there open j-boxes present, which may prevent the inspector from venturing into the crawlspace? Dirt floor or rat slab? Entry from inside the dwelling or outside?Are the runs in question original, or part of a retrofit? Is there metallic sheathed cabling present, which is rusting or broken?

IMO, barring any applicable, non-obscure ruling, open to interpretation, then the situation needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Indeed, the crawlspace in my home is vented to the inside basement. It is 3’ high, has a concrete rat slab, and is dry. By the way, its loaded with romex, inspected and approved by the Board of Fire Underwriters.

So, in my case, the answer is yes, it is fine. Either romes or bx, or EMT


This question was asked here at the Convention and the Instructor said that EMT was required, I said UF cable here in my personal opinion, only because it is designed for underground.

I was not addressing sunlight. Naturally, the location is not always damp, but in some areas it is damp and may even be wet.

PS: Quite a bit of discussion concerning New Construction Inspection of Electrical Wiring, and many questions could use more detailed replies.

I believe that the NEC Forum should be re opened again for this type of discussion. I know of a new kid who has taught the 1999 and 2002 NEC that will be helpful there.

I believe the instructor was incorrect, but he is entitled to his opinion. We are supposed to be generalists, and each inspector should be familiar with applicable codes in his or her own area, IMO. I limit that comment to those GENERAL rules one may encounter on an inspection, like what is acceptable for wiring in a crawlspace. However, I still go back to the assumption that crawlspaces are not normally considered as wet locations. If so, I believe there would be construction rules and further observations which could also be applicable.

On wet days, an electrician may encounter a river running in the crawlspace. That doesnt mean he will alter the materials he is allowed to use because the crawlspace may be wet on a particular day. He will wait until conditions change, as this is not the normal condition encountered in that crawlspace.

Going to the NEC (both 1999 and 2002) it speaks to locations which are normally dry. I dont see damp. I believe the assumption is that crawlspaces are designed to be normally dry. I think that says it all. Wet locations may bring a whole new set of rules to the table. I believe EMT does not necessarily perform well in wet conditions, either, and is subject to breakage and physical damage to the conductors contained therein.

Chicago has some whack rules, IMO. BTW, who was the instructor. I’d like to see his reference to the NEC verbiage. I conferred with several licensed electricians when answering this question, and their answers were identical.

Joe, there was no reference given to any rules, and the entire presentation for Advanced Electrical was not available for use because of a software problem, so Gerry took the discussion toward a checklist from a local city and pointed out the New Construction items.

That list can be found here:

Electrical General Wiring

Electrical Services

Perry, Florida

Taylor County Building Department
William D. Griner
Building Inspector
Taylor County Administrative Complex
201 E. Green St.
Perry Fl. 32347
(850)838-3500 Ext. 8 | 850-838-3501 fax

If an inspector was to call out romex that was attached to the joist under the crawl space he would be questioned to death by the electrician that was called to perform repairs. As well as the state or city inspector. At least in this area. I would not suggest calling this out at all, anytime. Unless the romex in in connection with the ground.
I would say the instructor is off base, if he is speaking nationally as a suggestion.

If discussions like this continue they will want you to run rigid in crawl spaces. not gonna happen.

I take exception to the comments listed in one of the links Joe T provided (I know that its not your link, Joe… so no foul!).

In the first one, under “aluminum wiring” (that’s all) the “rule” is that aluminum and copper splices are only permitted in split-bolt connectors, which discounts other approved splicing methodologies. This is totally false. The second comment states that all aluminum wire terminations reqire anti-oxidizing compounds, which is also false. It depends on the instructions of the equipment manufacturer.

I see no where that EMT as required, and no reference to romex or bx being prohibited in crawlspace areas. The other problem I see is that the referenced material is specific to a municipality, which is not necessarily applicable in all jurisdictions…

And Ben is dead-on. I think the premise is absurd

lol…who is this NEW kid…lol…do we know him Joe…?

I do have some opinions on the romax in crawl spaces if anyone wants MY opinion on it from a everyday practicle use opinion…:slight_smile:


Which new kid are you speaking of. There are two Joe’s here. And, yes, we’d like to hear your opinion onthe matter, then a reference in the NEC where it is prohibited, which is where this started from.

If this is really Perry Florida I have two things you should know.
First there is only one electric code in Florida, the NEC, with no local addendums.
The second thing is, them good old boys in Perry Florida do whatever they damn well please. A whole lot of laws haven’t caught up with them.

So Greg,

What are your thoughts on the initial comments regarding romex in a crawlspace?

Admittedly, I’m no sparky. I have lots of friends who are not only licensed for some time, but who are extremely competent.

We cannot find the reference anywhere, and believe that the application is acceptable.

Paul, I knew you would catch on :wink: and if you can give your opinion on this subject we can take it a bit furthur.

Okay, guys…

What’s up here?

Yoo Dude want my opinion? I think that the comments about the area are important, I have seen some areas in crawl spaces and basements that show signs of, and deteriorated cables and any metallic wiring method with total rust and no longer of any use at all.

I am a friend of “The Nail” so let get this to an agreement.

Yoo Paul where are you? :smiley:


Is that image the latest picture of you at the convention…thehehe…nice suit.

Actually when it comes to this issue I have to tell you it is seriously not enforced in this area and in most areas I see unless their is evidence of serious moisture issues.

I wont start quoting code here because I think we know what code says…but I have to tell you…in all the houses my company wire and the dozens of companies in the area and many have a crawl space…their is plenty of romax running through the crawl.

In many electrical thoughts the easiest way to run the wires lets say on a first floor is down and up…keeping the possibly issues of a over inspired drywaller who is using the wrong length screws from poking the wire…and in some cases is just goes faster than drilling every stud…

Either way…here is MY opinion and it just happens to the opinion of the local AHJ’s that I run into as well…

I do not see a problem with romax entering down into the crawl space and coming back up at the correct location…moisture and damp is one thing but if you reduce the odds of it coming in contact with the issues the less of an issue it becomes.

While the NEC clearly states where Romax can be located…what is does not do is define exactly where damp locations exist without using good judgement and in my opinion it really depends on the individual crawl space…We see plenty of them that are dry as a bone…and because they are constructed correctly will stay that way…so it really depends on the space…honestly if we said every wire entering a crawl has to be of a nature that is allowed in damp locations…we would NEVER get a house wired and make a profit…

Their is a huge difference in a damp crawl space and a dry crawl space…and while we can’t predict the future of that space I personally do not in my own opinion…beyond the NEC…and what the local AHJ’s are supporting as a real damp location that could have effect on the romax that is (1) most likely above the insulation and (2) not in direct contact with the damp or moist surface or so on…I just dont see it as a huge problem and again with all the homes done in virginia alone…the AHJ’s will not create a issue that is not a issue.

Probably not what you wanted to hear…but again I have been doing this for 18 years…and I am not going to stop running romax down into the crawl and back up if needed…in my eyes perfectly fine.


Thanks for the feedback, of course its based on one State. I have experienced some situations in different locations that cover most of the other States.


I think my new suit really looks good! :cool:

Is it a Monkey Suit…theheheh…Har…Har…lol

But you are right…the thing about the code is…and as defined even MORE in the 2002 NEC and on…they have the ability to judge from the bench so to speak…:slight_smile:

**Only for a reference from a national standard


If the crawlspace is that “damp” your real concern would be rotten floor trusses and black mold.

Ahhh…I must have missed something…I thought we were talking about Non-Metalic Cable…hmmm…AC…you must be in Chicago on that one Joe…man I have to tell you…and it may be just me…but if I had to do a house these days in AC cable…I wont bid on the job…

My hands are too worn and my desire to use AC in a residential environment has long left my WANTS and DESIRES…lol…as an electrical contractor and I think you can relate JOE…Give ME Non-Metalic anyday…:slight_smile: