Is this safe/compliant/doable?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by beekerc, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. beekerc

    beekerc IT Consultant / Network Engineer

    Oct 9, 2008
    IT Consultant / Network Engineer
    I have just installed a motion sensor security light on an exterior wall. the inisde of that wall is the kitchen and happens to be right behind the refrigerator. Power for the light comes in the stud bay from the basement. there is a window in that same wall (about 5 feet to the left) where i'd like to put an override switch to manually activate the lights. There is no access from the basement to the stud bay by the window so i can't fish the wire up. the slope of the roof line prevents me from dropping the wire into the stud bay from the attic. there are cabinets between the fridge and window so i can't cut out the sheetrock and run the cable horizontally......

    however, there is a light box on the ceiling on two of the four kitchen walls, including this exterior one. the box is about 8 inches tall and 12 inches wide and houses 8 foot flourescent fixtures which are attached to the ceiling. the bottom of the box is diffuser lens for the lights.

    what i'd like to do is run the romex between the light fixture and switch such that the veritcal run are inside the wall between studs, but have the wire come out of the wall, run 5 feet laterally, then go back into the wall into the other stud bay. if this were an exposed area, the romex coming into the room would be a no-no, however, I see this space not unlike the drop ceiling in the basement where i can run and staple romex wherever i need to. the wire would not be visible nor be subjected to abuse or damage from normal everyday activity.

    does what i'm suggesting violate code?
    can it be done?

    other random thoughts:
    - cutting a big enough swath of sheetrock to drill the studs and run the wire horizontally in the wall would be great, but accessibiltiy to do the work is very difficult.
    - removing siding from the outside to access the stud bays is not possible.
    - I do have a piece of armored MC cable (i think it's long enough) that I suppose I could run between two metal j-boxes surface mounted outside the sheetrock but inside the light box. more cost, more work and really ugly, even though it's hidden.
    - here's my rationale for just running a plain romex wire in the wall, out of the wall, back in the wall. If that area of the light box ever gets exposed dut to remodelling work, chances are that the cabinets below would be moved/removed and a larger portion of the wall would be exposed. at that point, it would be feasible to remove a portion of sheetrock, drill the studs and re-run the wires inside the wall. so it's not like i'm stuck with that arrangement forever if the light box goes away.

    as has been pointed out numerous times on this forum, just because it's compliant doesn't mean it's necessarily wise. so in addition to determining whether I can do this, I'd like to hear reasons if I shouldn't do it. it's not elegant, but (in my limited scope of experience) it appears safe, so if it's not allowed, or if you have an alternative thought, please let me know
  2. codeone

    codeone Code Enforcement

    Sep 5, 2008
    Code Enforcement, Instructor
    North Carolina
    Is there any way you could post a picture to get a better understanding of your situation? May have some suggestions but need to be able to see.

    Is there a switch somewhere else for this light? or did you run a new wire if so from what source?
    Is the studbay the light is in behind the fridge? How far to the cabinets from the studbay?
    Do you have a baseboard at the studbay for the light?
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
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  4. drick

    drick In the Trades

    May 16, 2008
    I can picture what you have. My parent's house has something similar. The electrician who wired it (keep in mind it was back in the 80's) also used the box as a raceway of sorts to get power to other fixtures in the kitchen. It was done in romex and is also not visible unless you remove the diffusers.

    I can't think of why it would be illegal. Using an actual fixture as a raceway unless rated for it is a no no, but really all you are doing is stapling romex to wood framing. For a large load you would probably have to derate the romex due to the heating effects of the existing lighting in an enclosed space, but your load is so small I don't think it is an issue.

  5. jimmyangst

    jimmyangst New Member

    Jan 11, 2009
    air cargo
    Columbus, Ohio
    If I understand correctly you're just looking to mount a switch for a 110V appliance-- if you wanted to avoid any impropriety (or appearance thereof) you could put a relay inline wherever your lines are easily accesible and install a relay, pull some 18 ga through your light recess to the switch. Just a thought--it'd keep you from having romex (and "high voltage") in a questionable location... a bit complicated for the simple task of turning something on and off, though... system guy returning to lurk mode...
  6. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Apr 2, 2008
    If this is a newer house with unpainted cabinets, the upper cabinets might be easily unscrewed from the wall and removed.

    If it is an older house with the upper cabinets painted to the wall and nailed and screwed, then probably would destroy the cabinets trying to remove them. (Give me that sledge hammer and sawsall! :D )

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