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Exposed Wiring - outside the building

Exposed Wiring - outside the building

Exposed Wiring - outside the building

First inspection of daughter's house, she just moved into.  There are two location where the prior owner ran typical looking romex wire from the porch light or just through the wall.  Then he stapled it to siding and bottom side of gutters and up the downspout to a flood light.  The wire to the AC condensor is not in conduit or flex cover.

Are these building code violations that the city would be interested in?  Is it legal to sell such if it is an obvious code violation?  Can you tell me where to find the standard to quote to the seller to fix?

This concerns me for occupant safety, of course.


RE: Exposed Wiring - outside the building

Per NEC terminology, this is "nonmetallic-sheathed" cable.  There are different grades - NM, NMC, and NMS, that all look about the same, but will be marked as one of the above.  It is generally allowed only for residential construction.  

This cable can be run exposed, per the NEC, as long as certain conditions are met.  NM can only run in dry locations.  NMC can be run exposed in moist and damp locations. It cannot be run unprotected outdoors.  So if it run under the eave it might be OK.  If it is run exposed to direct rain/snow outdoors, this is probably a violation.

RE: Exposed Wiring - outside the building

Wow, that is very helpful.  I will have to go back and see if any of the wiring imprint or labeling is readible.

In this case, they are not under the eaves at all.  They are totally unprotected, directly exposed to the sun, snow, etc.  One comes through the wall and a 90 El for plastic piping.  The other comes out the side of the porch light fixture.

RE: Exposed Wiring - outside the building

It's hard to believe that the local wiring inspector would allow this type of installation, regardless of whether this particular cable is rated for the weather. You should have probably checked with him before the purchase. Typically, this type of wiring is done with PVC or EMT.

RE: Exposed Wiring - outside the building

Based on your description, I agree completely with DanDel that this would be an obvious code violation.  I suspect this work was done by previous homeowner without permit or inspection (the same way I do all my work).  

If she bought the house, then she's probably stuck with making the repairs or living with it.  If she's renting, she may want to speak with landlord.  

In any event, based on the wiring you can see, I'd make sure she has enough smoke detectors and that they have new batteries.

Good luck.  

RE: Exposed Wiring - outside the building

You guys forgot about type SE cable, which also looks about the same as the other types you mentioned, but which NEC permits to be run outdoors.  So it's possible that the installation is OK.  See Chapter 3 of the NEC for specific cable types and associated permitted installations.

Beware that many jurisdictions disallow all such wiring.  Chicago (which has its own code) and Chicago suburbs (which follow NEC but ammend it to exclude most Romex-type wiring methods) are perfect examples.  In general, the closer you get to many cities, the greater the chance that Romex is disallowed, PERIOD.

Please note that PVC conduit must be identified for use in exposed areas.  Normal PVC will degrade in the sunlight.

The only answer to your question based on the information presented is:  "maybe".  You need to find out EXACTLY what kind of cable you have, and then you need to call your local building department to see if they permit that kind of cable, and if they don't, then you should see if they used to permit the installation of that kind of cable at the time when the cable was installed.

RE: Exposed Wiring - outside the building

Thanks everyone.  This is very helpful in my going to the local building department and prepared to ask the right questions.

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