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Can Romex Be Exposed? (Garage, Basement, Cabinet & More)

Romex is one of the most common electrical cable systems installed in our homes. Romex is most famous for its easy use and installation process. Today, we are going to discuss if romex can be exposed in the garage, basement, cabinet and more.

What is Romex wire?

Romex wire is the special kind of electrical wire that contains sheathing made with non metallic material.

The sheathing of Romex wire contains PVC material instead. One of the most interesting things about Romex wire is that it is protected by two layers of protection.

Romex wire is mostly installed in households. You can find many varieties of Romex wire based on its size and usage. 10 AWG, 12 AWG, 14 AWG are the most famous sizes of Romex wire available in the market.

What makes Romex wire more popular is that it can be easily installed without any fuss.

Can Romex be exposed?

Leaving Romex wire exposed is not recommended by experts. Romex wire should be covered up with conduits or raceways. Romex wire is dangerous if it is left exposed. One needs to cover the romex wire of their garage, basement, attic, crawl space, drywall, and porch with conduits or raceways.

Romex wire is not made with the purpose of being used without a conduit or a raceway. Romex wire is used in various parts of our home. It can be used in the garage, basement, attic, cabinet and in many more places.

But the important thing to remember here is that leaving Romex exposed is not good for the general care of the home and it is also dangerous for the people living inside that particular building.

So when you are installing the Romex wire in your home or office, it is best to cover it up for your own safety.

Let’s discuss in detail if romex can be left exposed by taking into account the situations below.

In garage:

Romex wire is often used in the garage because of its easy use and installation process.

But you cannot at any cost leave the Romex wire exposed in the garage. It is recommended by the experts that you cover the romex wire in a garage.

In a cabinet:

Sometimes, Romex wire is used in the lighting process of the cabinet. The romex wire used in this process can not be left exposed because of safety issue. So, Romex cannot be exposed in a cabinet.

In basement:

If the Romex wire is used inside the wall of a basement, it does not need extra protection. But you cannot put Romex wire on the outside part of the wall of a basement. You will have to cover the exposed Romex wire.

In attic:

If you are running the Romex wire through the wall of the attic, then extra protection is not needed. But if you are running the romex wire on the outside part of the attic wall, then you will have to run it through a conduit.

In crawl space:

If you are planning on using the romex wire in a crawl space, you will need to abide by some rules. You will have to use the Romex wire with the help of bored holes and running boards. You cannot leave the Romex wire exposed.

On drywall:

You cannot use the Romex wire on drywall without running it through a conduit. It increases the chance of electrocution. It can be said that romex cannot be exposed on drywall.

In an enclosed porch:

You can run the Romex wire through the walls of an enclosed porch without using a conduit. But you cannot run the Romex wire exposed on the outside part of the porch wall. Romex cannot be exposed in an enclosed porch.


The Romex wire is made to be used inside homes. If you are planning to use the Romex wire outside of your home, you need to run it through a conduit.

Otherwise, it will result in electrical failure and also increase the risk of electrocution.

What happens if you leave Romex exposed?

There are many things that can happen if you leave Romex exposed. They are:


The Romex wire is mainly used in our household. If you leave Romex exposed in your home, then it increases the chance of electrocution. Current constantly flows through the Romex wire.

Any person can get electrocuted if you leave Romex exposed either by touching them accidently or though malfunctioning of the Romex wire.

Specially, children of the house is at greater risk of getting electrocuted by touching exposed Romex.

Fire accidents:

Exposed Romex wire can result in bringing disaster to your home. Romex is made to run through a conduit or through walls and so on.

If you are breaking the normal use of Romex wire and leaving it exposed, it can cause fire accidents at your home.

Failure of electrical system:

The romex wire is designed to be run through a conduit. If you are using the Romex wire inside the wall, then it is fine to not use a conduit.

But if you are running exposed Romex on the outside of the wall in various parts of your house, then it can damage the electrical system of the house.

This will increase the maintenance cost of your house. So it is better to not leave the Romex exposed when you are doing the installation process.

How to cover exposed Romex?

There are several ways in which exposed Romex wire could be covered. They are:

Cutt off electricity:

Before beginning the process of covering the exposed Romex wire, you will need to cut off electricity of the concerned unit. If you do not cut off the electricity, you run the risk of getting electrocuted.

Use Conduit:

It might sound very repetitive  when one talks about using conduit to cover exposed Romex wire. But choosing the kind of conduit you would want to use to cover the exposed Romex wire can be a tricky task.

There is a variety of plastic conduits that can be used when it comes to covering exposed Romex. They are PVC pipe and electrical non metallic tubing (ENT).

You can use the PVC pipe when you are installing the Romex wire inside the walls. It can also be used to cover the Romex wire roaming outside walls and underground.

Another plastic conduit is electrical non metallic tubing (ENT) that is weaker than PVC pipe as a conduit.

ENT conduit works best in conditions that has moisture and is threatened by water damage. Between PVC pipe and ENT, it is better to use the former.

There is also another mentionable conduit that can be used to cover exposed Romex. That is electrical metallic conduit (EMT).

This conduit is made of steel. It is a strong conduit that can be applied to cover the exposed Romex wire in your homes and buildings.

Use Raceway:

Raceway is an excellent choice if you do not want to use conduit to cover the exposed Romex wire. You can use raceway to cover the exposed Romex wire effectively and easily. Surface raceway can be applied to run wires through it.

Surface raceway can be used in home buildings and commercial buildings. You can protect the exposed Romex wire from humidity, heat, intrusion, and damage by using surface raceway.

Can you bury regular Romex underground without conduit? Is it safe?

Sometimes you need to bury regular Romex underground for electrical purposes. But Romex cannot be buried underground without a conduit.

First of all, it is not safe at all to bury regular Romex without a conduit. Romex needs to be buried at least eighteen inches deep. It is better to seek professional help when you are planning to bury regular Romex underground.

Where is Romex allowed and where not?

Type three, Type four and Type five are allowed the permit to use Romex wiring. You can use the Romex wire inside your homes by following some rules.

You have to staple the Romex wire after every four and half feet. You also need to cover the Romex wire.

Exposed Romex wire is not allowed anywhere. People mostly use the Romex wire in homes.

But it can be used in commercial buildings too as long as they are type three, four or five. But all the Romex wires have to be run through a conduit in commercial buildings.

Final thoughts

Romex wire cannot be left exposed at any cost. Exposed Romex wire can cause accidents. It even increases the risk of electrocution. The cable codes and building codes do not support the theory of leaving Romex exposed. Covering the Romex wire ensures the safety of the electrical cable system too.