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Thread: Running Electrical

  1. #1
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    Default Running Electrical

    Wondering if I could get some feeedback on running electric wires during new construction. I was originally going to do everything in 12-2 Romex, but then got to thinking that I might have problems with mice/squirrels chewing on the wires. This is a seasonal use cabin and I wouldn't be there year around to curtail the buggers.

    I have a nice crawl space where I could run and distribute EMT to the cabin without boring through every stud or I could buy aluminum clad armored cable in 12-2 and run that instead of Romex.

    I would like to stick with Romex for costs and ease of installation, but just worried I will have problems someday.

    Anyone ever have problems with Romex and rhodents? I have never heard of anyone in Alaska having problems so maybe it is a lower 48 thing.

    What would you do if running electrical for new cabin? Same goes for PEX vs copper--anyone ever have rhodents chew on PEX?

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    I haven't heard of rodents chewing into PEX, but I wouldn't put it past them. Wires for sure are vulnerable. But if it were me, I'd focus on building a rodent proof structure, rather than worrying about potential vulnerabilities of wires and plumbing.
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    If you have a good clearing around your cabin, the rodents (squirrels) will stay away. They mostly avoid open areas cause that's where they get caught. The clearing will help with fire protection also.
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    You can always run MC (meatal clad) wiring.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    ….But if it were me, I'd focus on building a rodent proof structure, rather than worrying about potential vulnerabilities of wires and plumbing.
    Me too!
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Thanks for the feedback. I am going to run MC even though it might be overkill. It will costs me just a little more money (maybe about $100-$150), but the thought of tearing into the walls someday in the off chance a squirrel/shrew chews on some wires makes it worth it to me. I will seal up the cabin the best I can as well.

    Also will run PEX due to ease of installation and less susceptible to freeze damage. Will do homeruns for PEX so no connections are inside walls. Should be solid.

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    You shouldn't put any plumbing in outside walls. You might look at wiremold for surface wiring costs more but no holes through your vapor barrier and it makes it easy to change plug in locations later on if needed.
    I like that I can get the place closed in and then add the wiring especially if you have a wife who may change her mind as to where she wants things occasionally.

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    That's a good tip......luckily all plumbing can be on inside.

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    We have a cabin near Willow. We let it freeze when we are not there.

    Our water pipes are PVC. (I'm thinking of changing to PEX. Someday...)

    We drain the water system when we are not there to include purging with air using a small compressor. We still occasionally have our water pipes freeze. Our water pipes are surface mounted inside the cabin. Not in walls. So it is easy to repair when we have a leak. I suggest that you might consider that.

    We have the black sewer pipes under the cabin that are well insulated. Have not had any issues with them. We put RV anti-freeze in the traps in the winter when we are not using the cabin.

    Our cabin is three sided log so we have a combination of Romex 12/2 wiring inside interior walls, surface mounted in wire channels inside the cabin on the logs, and run unprotected under our cabin in the crawl space. The cabin is 15 years old I have yet to see any rodent damage. We have had an occasional mouse in the cabin but that is rare as we have tried to plug all the holes.

    We have had years that there are dozens of squirrels hanging around our cabin. Fortunately we have an owl that hangs out in the area that keeps the squirrel population in check. Squirrels can cause a whole lot of damage.
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    This thread reminded me of an old thread I posted in, showing how I retrofitted new pex lines in my place and abandoned the old underfloor cpvc runs that were problems. Cabin was on pilings. I hid the lines by hanging cedar siding that I ripped for the purpose from the ceiling, then hung our rods on the boards, which also treated them well each winter.

    Having access to the lines was great, as well of course as no freeze-ups. After the initial work I relocated the pressure tank and went to Toyo hot water and that was easy.

    Sold the place a few years ago. Sure do miss it.
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    If you are going to run wire in conduit then it is often better to buy three spools of THHN wire: 1 green, 1 white, and 1 black. It generally has a higher rating than romex and is cheaper. But don't use it without conduit and make sure you pick the right gauge based on the load.

    That is the way commercial buildings are often wired. In metal conduit, either flexible or rigid, it is very reliable.

    The negative of plastic conduit is that it does not conduct away heat as well as metal. It may not be obvious but what limits the wire rating is breakdown of the insulation. Get it too hot due to current flowing through it, the insulation fails, and you get a short or a hot spot that can start a fire. Good breakers that are correctly sized to protect the wire based on the gauge they are connected to helps prevent that problem.

    Running THHN wire in conduit is also easier than romex in conduit because it will be thinner. A good wire puller / snake and plenty of lube makes it a simple task.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I honestly think you are over thinking this. We have been in business for 38 years selling building materials in semi-rural Alaska. I don't recall a single time where anyone has ever came in and said their wiring was chewed up by rodents. There's always a first time, but I've never encountered the issue. Typically, when a critter chews on something that product attracts them somehow. Like the glue in plywood for porcupines. Squirrels will chew through screens etc. to get to food. I've never heard of the coating on romex to be attractive to rodents.
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    Been an Electrician in Alaska for 25 years and I have to agree with AKDoug I've never seen this or heard of anyone having a problem with it. Also using MC instead of romex will most likely cost more than $150. You will need the MC, MC connectors, MC straps, and Metal boxes or possible plastic boxes with 1/2" holes. All the parts cost more and are way more time consuming to install. MC doesn't pull through studs very good and needs to be rolled out if you don't have a spooler. Be careful not to kink it. It breaks easy if it kinks then you have to cut it off and start over.

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    Squirrels are the only critters that I've heard of chewing on romex. And that's up in the attic if they happen to get in. That said, I had one in my attic before and it never bothered the romex.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    Squirrels are the only critters that I've heard of chewing on romex. And that's up in the attic if they happen to get in. That said, I had one in my attic before and it never bothered the romex.
    I once found a mummified squirrel in an attic, still latched onto a wire. Wasn't Romex, but old knob and tube wiring... Have had pack rats and various ground squirrels chew on vehicle wiring in L-48, and Red Squirrels and Red-Backed Voles do same up here. Nonetheless, modern structures should be constructed so as to be rodent proof, and wiring vulnerability shouldn't be a concern.
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    Just checked back on this thread and am grateful for the responses. Priced out MC cable and with the connectors, boxes, special cutter, etcetera it did come to about $200 more than using Romex. I think I am going to change my mind and go the Romex route because I can make all my runs inside the walls and keep wires out of the attic and crawlspace. A little trick I read about was using steel wool to plug the holes where wires go through the studs.....it seems people that have had problems with mice chewing on wires is when they try to chew out the wire to make room and get to the next stud bay--apparently the steel wool deters them. I too have never heard of anyone in Alaska having troubles with Romex eating critters so it could just be an regional thing. Thanks for the feedback. Every little dollar saved helps. Overthinking things sometimes is not good....tx for pointing that out AK Doug.

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