Is losing access to wiring a big concern?

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Posted by: from London
4/26/2014 at 12:21:46 PM

We have a drop ceiling in our basement. Currently there is plain exposed lightbulbs for lighting. We are having our basement bathroom renovated this fall (it's still in it's planning with wife) We would like part of the basement ceiling drywalled but will lose access to wiring, etc. Is this a big concern or one that can be addressed during the process?

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time4/26/2014 at 4:00:15 PM

ESA and electrical quote state that all junction boxes must be accessible for repair or maintenance. PLAIN AND CLEAR.

There are people who do not follow these rules and wind up in a situation where access to these boxes later is near impossible and have to remove drywall to locate and make these repairs. One solution which is helpful to those areas which do not have enough spare wire to allow the junction boxes to be relocated to the surface and accessible after the drywall is up is to install a plastic 6x6, 8x8, 10x10" access hatch ($10 at DIY store). Then when something needs repair, it is easy to locate some of the troubles. Also a must for water and gas valves.

As any electrical work in Ontario, it is a must to hire an electrical contractor for this work and get an ESA permit and inspections.

You can verify their contractor name at If they cannot provide an ESA license number and permit, do not allow them to touch the wiring, even changing from a surface mounted light to a recessed light in the same location requires a permit. Permits run from $75 and up so this is pretty cheap peace of mind from a handyman wiring job to a contractor registered with all insurance and legal responsibilities for you.

The good thing about ESA (who manage us contractors and our licenses), if you are not happy with our work, one call to ESA and the inspectors are on our backs and our license flagged for follow up.

What handyman can provide that kind of scrutiny?

Do the right thing for the safety of your home and family, get it wired right by a licensed electrical contractor and get a permit. They will know what to do.

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Date/Time4/27/2014 at 5:18:49 PM


So long as you have no junction boxes covered by new drywall ceiling or walls, you are good to go. If you install pot lighting, whatever, just be sure that all runs are from light to light in the proper circuit.

All connections must be in accessible light boxes or wall outlet boxes or switch boxes on the walls.

Hope this helps.

James Fram

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Date/Time4/30/2014 at 10:03:27 AM

Both Rob and James are correct on the requirements for the space from an electrical code perspective..

My only point to add is how do you feel about not being able to access the ceiling space for maintenance and repairs? Not just electrical, but plumbing, HVAC, HG, etc. For purposes of discussion, if you have a drain leak or pipe repair in the kitchen (say dishwasher). If it leaks and gets to the basement ceiling you know you are going to have to open up that ceiling to make the repair, then repair the ceiling.

Some people don't care... others want that access. There is no right answer. Like Rob and James said, if you drywall, you need an access to every junction box, water valve, gas valve and HVAC damper control. Also if you have things like doorbell transformer, signal boosters, CATV connections / filters, telephone connections, etc you will also want access to them.


John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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