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I bought some standard 12/2 Romex at Home Depot for some electrical work. Same stuff I've used my whole life. Moved to IL last year, and I am now finding out that using Romex is against code in my area.

Can somebody explain to me a) why that might be, and b) why electrical code varies so greatly from city to city, county to county, state to state. Yes, there are always exceptions based on where you live for various reasons, but I don't understand why electrical code seems so much less universal than anything else like plumbing, HVAC, etc. Very frustrating.
 

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Certain areas like the greater Chicago area and New York city have has stricter rules than other parts of the county. Each area can make amendments the NEC.
 

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Wow...I'm glad I don't live in Chicago......primarily because I am the world's worst conduit bender.

My guess is one of two reasons:

Maybe EMT tends to reflect bullets better than Romex in a shootout

or Maybe the electricians union were good friends with a politician behind on his boat payments...
 

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I bought some standard 12/2 Romex at Home Depot for some electrical work. Same stuff I've used my whole life. Moved to IL last year, and I am now finding out that using Romex is against code in my area.

Can somebody explain to me a) why that might be, and b) why electrical code varies so greatly from city to city, county to county, state to state. Yes, there are always exceptions based on where you live for various reasons, but I don't understand why electrical code seems so much less universal than anything else like plumbing, HVAC, etc. Very frustrating.
Generally, I don't think it varies very significantly accross very many jurisdiction.....at least not out west.

I think you just ran into the anomaly..
 

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I bought some standard 12/2 Romex at Home Depot for some electrical work. Same stuff I've used my whole life. Moved to IL last year, and I am now finding out that using Romex is against code in my area.

Can somebody explain to me a) why that might be, and b) why electrical code varies so greatly from city to city, county to county, state to state. Yes, there are always exceptions based on where you live for various reasons, but I don't understand why electrical code seems so much less universal than anything else like plumbing, HVAC, etc. Very frustrating.
I guess I wonder what the application is? I am not an electrician but I understand there are some applications where romex is not allowed in lots of jurisdictions, but is allowed for many other common ones. What are you wanting to use it for?
 

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I bought some standard 12/2 Romex at Home Depot for some electrical work. Same stuff I've used my whole life. Moved to IL last year, and I am now finding out that using Romex is against code in my area.
And they shouldn't have sold it to you. Shame on them. Return it, with extreme prejudice. (not too hard, Home Depot are softies on returns, although the "You sold me this Romex I can't use" is a conversation they have ten times a day, I'm sure.

Can somebody explain to me a) why that might be,
Easy. A railroad dispatcher and an air traffic ground controller do the same thing: direct movements of heavy, precious equipment at high speeds on the ground. Let one of each talk for 10 minutes. The railroad guy's jaw will be on the floor. You do WHAT? with WHAT? VERBALLY? No interlocks of any kind??? You don't even switch the runway lights to indicate cleared use, blue for taxi, white for landing etc.? Dude Tenerife was 1977, what have you been doing all these years?

Believe me, the "state of the art best practices" of one will seem barbaric to the other.

Let's look at Romex from a metal-conduit perspective.

Most Romex installations are completely unguarded. What keeps a nail from being driven into Romex? Only some arcane rules about routing (must be in the center of the wall cavity, or use guard plates) and gentlemen's agreements with other trades not to use fasteners longer than 1-1/2". If someone very determined manages to drive a nail into EMT metal conduit, and it nicks a wire, it instantly dead shorts to ground (via the conduit), tripping the breaker. That's what we want. With Romex you can drive a nail into it without even realizing you did so and now you have an energized nail head.

Because Romex is vunlerable to weather damage (it's NOT rated outdoors; we sometimes get reports of mysterious GFCI trips; someone's Romex got wet and the paper stuffing wicked water deep into the cable, where it just sat there degrading the insulaton.

It's also vulnerable to pest damage, particularly rodents enjoy sharpening teeth on it. So there you have an arc fire. In EMT you have a dead short to shell and a breaker trip, plus competent EMT installation provides no entry point for pests.

Romex is basically the reason they want AFCIs on pretty much every circuit, rather than just bedrooms (where it helped with electric blanket failures/fires and plugs crushed into walls by furniture).

Romex requires a $45 AFCI breaker because the run from breaker to first recep needs to be AFCI protected. In EMT land it does not, because of the reliability of wires in EMT, so I can pay $18 for an AFCI receptacle lol.

Romex is universally forbidden in industrial applications. (unless in metal conduit, of course).

Code shows us time and again where Romex has issues, and is basically a "compromise"/concession to builders to keep construction costs down.

why electrical code varies so greatly from city to city, county to county, state to state.
Because America! It is a Federal system. We have a diversity of values. Forget Romex, some states used to allow slaves. And we're still differing about basic stuff like "what voting is" and access to healthcare, and suddenly 50-years-settled questions like abortions are back in play for some reason. I'm amazed different states don't take different sides in various world conflicts lol.

It's the opposite of the One World Government that everyone's in a panic about.


Wow...I'm glad I don't live in Chicago......primarily because I am the world's worst conduit bender.
Look at any of my serpentine masterworks, and you'll see a coupler in between every bend. You didn't think I did that out of one piece of conduit, did you? LOLOL The only thing I'm a master of is how far down the 2 pieces to make the cut! And I just fit them both and mark the overlap.

We had a bending genius once. There's a beautiful section with 5 perfectly fitting 90's in one conduit stick. Never said "code genius" lol...
 

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Wow...I'm glad I don't live in Chicago......primarily because I am the world's worst conduit bender.

My guess is one of two reasons:

Maybe EMT tends to reflect bullets better than Romex in a shootout

or Maybe the electricians union were good friends with a politician behind on his boat payments...
I'll go with #2 for $100.00, Alex.
 

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If I remember it is due to fire code.
 

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Maybe EMT tends to reflect bullets better than Romex in a shootout
Rats don't like to chew EMT, so they can't start electric fires.
I don't understand why electrical code seems so much less universal than anything
All NFPA codes (including NFPA70) are just... suggestions. They became law only when incorporated in law by a legislative body. And they can be amended when adopted.
Some states are slower in that process than others (Kansas and Indiana are still on the 2008 edition):
NEC Adoption by State: A State-by-State Guide to Compliance - BHS Industrial Equipment (bhs1.com)

Even the NEC panel members don't always agree with each other, they vote those changes in the code, but those votes are not unanimous.
 

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Electrician unions buy influence and get rules enacted that make DIY work hard to do. In NYS PVC drain, waste and vent piping was not allowed in commercial occupancies until 2002. It was the plumbers’ union. PVC conduit was allowed, plumbing was not. At a training seminar I asked the Department of State Codes Division which causes more fires, the electrical system or the plumbing drain system. They were not impressed.
 

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If I remember it is due to fire code.
Yes.....I don't think anyone will argue that emt is not safer than romex......

but it is a judgement of risk verse cost....the only thing I don't like is some government agency dictateing my risk verse cost choice...and I'm skeptical whether they are really motivated by my safety.
 

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I bought some standard 12/2 Romex at Home Depot for some electrical work. Same stuff I've used my whole life. Moved to IL last year, and I am now finding out that using Romex is against code in my area.

Can somebody explain to me a) why that might be, and b) why electrical code varies so greatly from city to city, county to county, state to state. Yes, there are always exceptions based on where you live for various reasons, but I don't understand why electrical code seems so much less universal than anything else like plumbing, HVAC, etc. Very frustrating.
The laws of physics should be unchanging so what the people in a locale normally do, good or bad, legal or not, is maybe pushing these changes, if public safety is what drives this.

At least I hope "public safety" gets a vote.
 

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The laws of physics should be unchanging so what the people in a locale normally do, good or bad, legal or not, is maybe pushing these changes, if public safety is what drives this.

At least I hope "public safety" gets a vote.
Yeah.....Chicago is the pinnacle of "public safety"

Maybe we should just take care of ourselves.
 

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The laws of physics should be unchanging
Yes, the laws don't change. Local conditions change.
  • Some places have problems with rats eating away conductors, some don't.
  • In some countries the building codes requires all houses to be made of concrete due to earthquakes. In most of US that's would be an unnecessary expense and a huge burden to the environment.
  • Lightning protection systems work, but we don't see them installed on every residential house, because the risks for low buildings is negligible. We even have a formula to empirically calculate that risk (in NFPA780).

Engineering is never going to provide 100% protection and reliability. No sane engineer will GUARANTEE that something he designs will work 100%, forever and ever.
It's always a compromise between acceptable risks and costs.
 

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If you are a confident DIYer, go about your your business and do your electrical work. Even Chicago doesn’t have a electrical police checking for Romax in homes.
Bad advise. This could complicate a sale of the home at a future date.

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