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BillyDIY 08-24-2008 04:00 PM

Wiring Protection for Accessible Attic
So I have been searching a number of the posts here at DIY chatroom in regards to wiring in an accessible attic and I still have some gray area as to the exact definitions or applications of guarding cables so here is my story/plight.

I own a split level house that at time of purchase had a non-accessible attic with a small cubby entrance in the master bedroom closet. To gain some storage space I installed a drop down collapsible ladder in the main hallway thus immediately making the attic accessible by definition. To support the roof, the attic has a set of rafters that best described looks like a stretched out letter W at cross section of the house. From floor to the roof ridge vent, there is maybe four feet of space and is about six feet wide of usable space before the support rafters touch the floor left/right. The original wiring of the house is a series of Romex/NM cables that mainly run on top of the floor joists and sometimes on the sides of them. There is one lone connection that appears to be a home run from the breaker box that runs about a foot high up attached to the side of a set of support rafters (not the ones that attach to the ceiling) that goes into the GFI circuit in the one bath.

I first laid down a number of 2x4 pieces sideways and attached them to the floor joists. Where Romex/NM wire would have interfered with this furring strip array, I placed nail guards across those connecting sections. To provide the floor space for storage, I put down aprx inch OSB.

So from my interpretation (which to find out if accurate is why Im here), this setup is OK because I have provided protection at least to the height of the cables (the sideways 2x4 is inch high, nail guards, and OSB flooring).

So my questions are

1) Does anything sound inaccurate in the above description to cause a code problem?
2) The OSB floor does cover over the back side of the junction box that provides lighting to the hall below. However, access to the inside of this junction box is still available from the hall after removing the light. No other junction boxes are covered in this application.
3) Will I be required to move the one existing visible cable that is about a foot off the floor attached to the support rafters that feeds the GFI circuit? Is there any way to protect it w/o removing it?
4) The floor does not cover the entire attic. Once you get past the roof support rafters the angle of the roof basically means you would be on your belly to put anything. Would I be required to protect those cables?
5) You can see the exposed cans from the recessed ceiling lights. I did not bring the OSB into the sections where the recessed lights are. Any concerns there?
6) I know that my current implementation of lighting the attic will not pass muster. Any advice on attaching caged lighting either on the floor joists or support rafters? If anything is run up the rafter I assume I will need guarded/enclosed cables and not just Romex/NM. Note that there are W support rafters and then there is the A rafters that connect to the roof.
7) Any problems with having the exposed junction boxes either on the floor joists versus on the sides?

J. V. 08-26-2008 11:19 AM

Shorten that post up and someone might just take the time to read it.

theatretch85 08-26-2008 12:50 PM

Pictures of the area/items in question will help greatly.

Termite 08-26-2008 04:10 PM

Just because a wire is in an accessible attic, that doesn't mean that it is subject to physical damage.

The code requires that all wires be protected and secured within 6' of the attic access hole. This can include many methods, but most folks simply install boards right by them and secure them. This helps prevent someone using the wire for a handhold, or pushing some sort of box or equipment over the top of them and damaging them.

The grey area is the storage space in your attic, and whether or not it can be deemed an attic area that justifies physical protection. I could make a valid argument either way. Very subjective call.

Covering exposed wires with furring strips and sheathing definately satisfies the requirement for protection from physical damage.

Is the junction box a junction box or a fixture box? It needs to be reasonably accessible so an electrician or future owner can locate it if need-be. Also a little subjective.

You have to remember that this is not habitable space. It is light storage space and/or attic space. You don't have to have caged lights, and you don't have to worry about voids in the floor sheathing or can lights that stick up through the floor.

BillyDIY 08-26-2008 10:13 PM

The lighting fixture is in the hall and if you remove it you can gain access. It just so happens that you can see the back end of it from the attic space that I put the sheathing over.

Thanks for the reply thekctermite. I may be over interpreting the term accessible attic then. This space will be used exclusively for storage. As mentioned the height is about four feet so you certainly can't stand in there.

As per the long post, sorry for those whom did not fully read it. History has shown that if you do not provide detail, then the first reply is "provide more detail". And I also thought it would not be beneficial to have separate posts for each of the questions. Thanks for everyone's help.

Termite 08-26-2008 10:56 PM


Originally Posted by BillyDIY (Post 152149)
As per the long post, sorry for those whom did not fully read it. History has shown that if you do not provide detail, then the first reply is "provide more detail". And I also thought it would not be beneficial to have separate posts for each of the questions. Thanks for everyone's help.

Nothing wrong with the length and detail of your post. It isn't all about quick questions and quick replies. :yes:

BillyDIY 11-05-2009 08:44 PM

Added photos for better description
4 Attachment(s)
So it has been a while but I finally got around to taking some photos to better desribe my concerns. In general, from what I recall of the code there are restrictions of how close wires can be near the opening of the entrance to the attic stairs. As long as anything in these photos is more than a foot away from the attic stairs it is OK, correct?

AtticLighting - Is it against code to have a line run up like this in an attic for the switch or the light? Do I need a cage around the light?

RecessedLights.jpg - Is it OK to use the yellow romex cable to go from the junction box on the 2x4 to the junction box on the lights? I am not required to use the metal shielded housing like the light housing does from its junction to the ligth itself right? The recessed lights are sealed so I can put some pink insulation right over top, correct? Ignore the gold extension cord and no cover on the junction box in lower right (I put one on since this photo).

GFI.jpg - the original builder of the house put a home run from the main panel in the basement up to the attic but instead of running on the floor supports like all of the other elec cables in the attic that feed other areas this one sits on one of the roof supports about a foot up. My question though is back to the concern that this is about two feet away from the attic opening stairs. Any concern here?

AtticCrossView - Shows my attic and the W shape I mentioned. This mainly for reference so you can see that from the attic floor to the roof ridge vent that its about four feet.

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