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Any downside to this wire routing idea?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by velvetfoot, May 5, 2009.

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  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I have a screened in deck that has a water spigot that won't be used any more.
    I am thinking of cutting the pipe in the basement and using the 1/2" copper pipe as conduit.
    I don't see why it won't work. Waddya think?

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  2. FN_9

    FN_9 New Member

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    Does your house use conduit or romex? If conduit, then make sure that it ties back to existing conduit to be properly grounded. I guess it could work but I'm not an electrician.

    Of course, it could be a danger for any future owner - when they cut into the pipe, not expecting it to be electrical.
  3. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Double check, but I'm not sure that it would be code compliant, both because it's copper, and because it may have more than the allowed number and sharpness of bends...

    OTOH, there wouldn't be anything I know of that would be wrong w/ pulling the pipe out and replacing it w/ standard conduit (or NMT if that's allowed) that followed the same routing, as long as you followed the limits on bends...

    Gooserider
  4. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    It will be fine to use for that purpose. They use metal/galvinized conduit right??. Just label the pipe as to what it contains. Make sure you file and tape the ends of the cut copper as to not cut the wire your pulling through.
  5. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Yes, but they also UL list that metal conduit for the purpose... If it were just a straight run with no bends, it might be OK to use the copper, but I'd be worried if there were any bends. Even plain copper wire has a definte bend radius requirement, which is far greater than the tight bends used in copper plumbing. Look at the difference some time, a 90* bend in 1/2" conduit will typically be 3-4" in radius, even a sweeping bend in 1/2" copper plumbing is maybe an inch radius. If you need to make a sharp 90* w/ conduit you have to install a "pull box" and split the pull (and the pull box cover must remain visible and accessible, no hiding it behind the sheet rock)

    That is probably the biggest difference, but I'm sure there may be others - I'm not an electrician by training, so this is why I said to check the codes in my earlier post, but I would almost be willing to bet that it isn't going to be a legit usage.

    Gooserider
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. I don't know if it'd be feasible, but thought it might work.
  7. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Your sig doesn't say where you live, but if you live in a state or area with strict bldg. codes (i.e. Calif, NY, Mass, IL, etc.) and an inspector ever sees that, he'll freak. Then he'll make you pull it out and redo it to code. Then he might fine you. Homeowner's insurance co. prolly wouldn't like it, either.

    OTOH, if you're in rual Montana or Alabama, you're probably fine, as long as what you're pulling through the copper is well insulated.

    Peace,
    - Sequioa
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I have used 1/2" conduit and it really really stinks to pull 12/2 romex through it. 1/2" is really small.
  9. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    You are NOT supposed to pull romex through conduit! - code prohibits it... What you are supposed to pull is the individual conductor wires, I believe designated THNN wire, with the appropriate insulation jacket colors... Essentially this is the kind of wire that is left when you pull the jacket off of Romex. However, except for short lengths you are better off purchasing the plain wire, not Romex. However, you also shouldn't have bare THNN wire running around either - it needs to be in conduit, or jacketed / Romex.

    According to the electricians I know, there are a few ways to handle this:

    1. Run conduit all the way from the panel to the outlet - generally a PITA, and expensive, probably not worth it unless code requires it.

    2. For short runs of conduit, run Romex to the start of the conduit, then strip the jacket off and run just the inner wires through the conduit - note that the jacket on the romex must go into the conduit an inch or so.

    3. For longer runs, put a box on the end of the conduit, run Romex to the box, then connect regular THNN wire to the Romex in the box w/ wire nuts as usual and run the THNN down the conduit. Per standard rules, note that the box needs to stay visible, and must have a cover on it.

    Note that if you will be transitioning back to Romex on the both ends of the conduit run, you pretty much have to use method # 3 on at least one end since you can't put the jacket back on the Romex.

    Gooserider
  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I believe that you can run romex in conduit so long as it is not in a wet environment (NM is not rated for that) and so long as you do not exceed the conduit fill rule. I got my work inspected almost 1.5 years ago now and it passed. We had the code book out when we were doing it. Of course, anybody reading this should refer to the code book but we looked and did not find anything prohibiting romex in conduit.

    Also, stripping the outer coating off of romex doesn't give you that same thing as THHN strands. The indivual conductors inside of the romex are not labeled even though it is probably the same thing. A good inspector will catch it.

    It is far easier to fish individual THHN strands than a single NM cable.
  11. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Well, I've had a couple electricians tell me that it was a no-no to put romex in conduit under any circumstances, either NM or the weatherproof, underground buriable stuff. Supposedly the reason is that it could overheat as the jacket acts as insulation within the conduit.

    Same guys told me that it wasn't OK to use the wire inside Romex as THHN by itself, but that it was OK to use it if the Romex part was still attached as a continuous run. I beleive the idea was that if you had a long length of stripped Romex the inspector could still ID the wire from the jacket remaining on the unstripped cable.

    Gooserider
  12. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Am I the only one thinking that copper pipe previously used for domestic water does not qualify as "conduit" in any case?

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    See posts #2 & 4 earlier in this thread - I'm currently working on the assumption that the copper would get replaced by "legal" conduit...

    Gooserider
  14. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    It's not like it would be a long run, just a foot or two to go up and out the exterior wall.
  15. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    In that case, I'd be inclined to check with the code book / AHJ to see if you actually NEED conduit there, or if you can get away with the exterior grade Romex - the stuff is a pain to work with, but it's still easier than conduit.

    Gooserider
  16. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Other exterior outlets at my place just use regular romex and standard outlet boxes with weatherproof covers.

    My concept was to make it as easy as possible, not poking around in the exterior wall messing with the insulation etc, since there's no longer any need for a water outlet.
  17. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Outside outlets should be in weathertight boxes, as well as the covers... These days code also says the covers should be the dome style, not just the little flip lids like they used to use (makes sense as it means the outlets are still protected even when plugged in)

    As to making it easy, what I would probably do is cut the pipe off fairly close to the wall on both sides, and run a length of fish tape through it, then fasten the end of a length of (exterior grade) Romex to the tape, and slide the pipe out as I pulled the Romex through behind it... That way the Romex follows the path made by the pipe. Once you've finished the job (remember to leave a "drip loop" in the wire) fill the space around the wire with caulk, or possibly give it a blast of spray foam.

    Gooserider
  18. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. I've already broken off a couple of those bubbles when shoveling snow off the deck. I replaced them with the old low profile metal jobs that aren't any good for long term use in the rain. I don't use it for Christmas lights or anything. This new one would be under cover. I guess best would be to remove pipe and valve. I'm going to have to do something 'cause I was listening to Johan and the Mets defeating the Phillies out there with an extension cord through the patio door that will undoubtedly get cut off by the Mrs. or me closing the door on the cord.
  19. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Correct, outdoor outlets must be GFCI protected, either by use of the appropriate outlet, or being on a GFCI protected circuit. Not sure, but I think modern code may require "Arc Fault" protection as well.

    Gooserider
  20. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, my outside outlets all gfci.
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