How to Protect Romex


When performing any electrical job, it is extremely important to protect the electrical wire from external damage. Commercial construction jobs require the use of single-strand wires that must be installed in electrical conduit for protection. Most residential jobs, however, use nonmetallic sheathed cable (NMC), which is most often called Romex, for its ease of installation. Romex, in most instances, does not require any added protection when installed properly, but exceptions to the rules do exist.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Nail plates
  • Hammer
  • Staples
  • Box connectors
  • Install the Romex wire correctly within a wooden stud wall. Drill 3/4-inch holes through the studs where the outside edge of the hole is at least 11/4 inches away from the edge of each stud. Feed the wire through the holes. This procedure protects the wire from such damage as nails or screws being driven through the walls to attach siding or other finish materials.

  • Fasten nail plates to studs that have holes with measurements reading less than those in Step 1. Hold the nail plate vertically on the outside edge of the stud, in line with the hole drilled on the inside. Tap both ends of the nail plate with a hammer until securely fastened.

  • Staple wires that run vertically along studs. Wires should be stapled along the inside surface, at least 1-1/4 inches away from the outside edge of the studs. Place the staple over the wire and tap with a hammer to get it started. Pull the wire taught, and finish driving the staple in place.

  • Locate all areas where notches were made to install the wire and attach nail plates. Notches expose at least one side of the wire and do not provide the required 1-1/4-inch depth. Install the nail plates perpendicular to the notch. Place them side by side over the entire length of the notch, securely fastening each one in place.

  • Provide protection where Romex wire enters metal boxes. Insert box connectors in the holes in the metal boxes. Unscrew the locknut found on the connector. Place the connector, thread end first, in the hole. Re-attach the locknut. Insert the wire and securely fasten with a screwdriver.

  • Install proper overcurrent protection devices. Size 14/2 AWG and 12/2 AWG are the most commonly used Romex wire sizes in residential construction. Size 14/2 AWG wire requires no more than a 15-amp circuit breaker, while 12/2 AWG wire requires no more than a 20-amp circuit breaker.

Tips & Warnings

  • Find the proper size overcurrent protection device for the size of your wire in the National Electrical Code book.
  • Be cautious when driving staples and tightening screws in box connectors. It is very easy to nick the wire. This produces an electrical short-circuit when the circuit becomes energized, and creates a potential fire hazard.

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