View Full Version : Running romex through drywall?

Ken Platt
06-05-2018, 3:56 PM
Folks - I need to run a romex line into the space underneath the stairs which go up to my attic (this is a ranch, so the line is coming from the basement). The line is to power a light fixture which will be mounted in the drywall underneath the stairs, which is the ceiling over the stairs down to the aforementioned basement.

I've got a hole drilled from the ceiling of the basement up into the wall adjacent to the stairs, opened up a small bit of the drywall, and have the line, which can be seen in the picture coming into the space under the stairs (in the pic, the one tread was removed for accessing the wall underneath).

The question: Can I just patch the hole around the romex and leave the romex just coming through the drywall? Since this is underneath the stairs it of course can't be seen. I can't think why that would be a problem but somehow it doesn't seem correct.

You can see in the pic that there is some wood trim below the hole I opened in the drywall, and somehow it seems like it'd be better to drill a hole in that and fish the line through it, but again I can't think of a reason why it'd be better (aside from looking tidier) , and the spaces are small and hard to work with, so all else being equal, I'd love to go the easy way.

Thoughts? Much appreciated -


North Granby, CT

Paul F Franklin
06-05-2018, 9:42 PM
If it's going to be protected when you replace the tread, there's no requirement to do anything special...you could leave the big hole even. And when snaking romex in existing construction, there is a code exception to the normal requirement that the romex be secured to framing members.

Neil Gaskin
06-05-2018, 10:06 PM
We would leave it open and not patch so long as itís sealed by the tread and ran to a box for the new light. If you want to seal it I would use Fire-stop expanding foam.

Leo Graywacz
06-05-2018, 11:20 PM
You need to terminate it into an approved electrical box. If you are putting a light up then an old work round box would do. Just don't put anything heavy on it. Otherwise you'll need a supported box.

James Pallas
06-06-2018, 8:52 AM
There is a fire protection requirement for egress stairways. If your stairway is the single way out from another floor the underside of the stairs is protected by fire rated drywall.if that is the case you probably don't want holes cut thru that protective barrier.

Mark Bolton
06-06-2018, 3:03 PM
James is on the money in that the only reason you would have to concern yourself is if you were bound by a fire-stop issue. That said, 1/2" drywall isnt going to be any form of an approved fire-stop. If you really want to cover your but and feel like you did a good job go pick up a can of fire-stop foam and seal up the hole with the foam and you'll be miles ahead of what anyone else would likely do.

Ken Platt
06-06-2018, 9:38 PM
Thanks folks; leaving it as is saves me some valuable time. My wife thought I was nuts to even consider repairing a hole that's beneath stairs, and that's even without considering the stairs are behind a door and get used maybe 3-4 times a year max, only when I go into the attic for maintenance stuff.

James, I think that I had some vague idea about the fire protection, but this stairway isn't used for anything except attic access. We don't use the attic at all; it's much too low a ceiling to even stand in.

I appreciate the help.


Mark Bolton
06-07-2018, 8:20 AM
The Firestop issue isn't one of egress will be able to use the stairs it's an issue of blocking a fire from traveling through the structure up into the Attic you're trying to block a potential fire from being able to travel through the house quickly but I would still say I wouldn't worry about the hole in the drywall