My Electrician is saying that it is mandatory requirement to use a BX cable in a condominium. Since the ceiling is concrete we need to run the cable on the wall(external) against the periphery of the ceiling to install track lights on two opposite walls. Is this a requirement to obtain the ESA certification? Can we not just use a plain 14/2 non BX cable?
Unfortunately romex or NMD90 cable is not an approved wiring method in a building such as yours. Bx or conduit is an approved wiring method in your application. It has a lot to do with mechanical protection of the conductor.
Andy, I think it is important that you trust your electrician and rest assured he will provide you with an ESA inspection on the work he performs for you. The inspection MUST be done in his company's name, not yours and with this certificate you can be ensured the work is compliant and safe. If it is not, the inspector will fail it.
There is no direct code rule stating NMSC cannot be used in non-combustible construction (ex. concrete), (assuming it is not exposed to mechanical damage), BUT the building code does require wires and cables installed in these environments to have minimum flame spread to prevent toxic environments in case of fire.
220.127.116.11. Wires and Cables
(1) Optical fibre cables and electrical wires and cables installed in a building permitted to be of combustible construction shall,
(a) not convey flame or continue to burn for more than 1 min when tested in conformance with the Vertical Flame Test in Clause 4.11.1. of CAN/CSA-C22.2 No. 0.3, Test Methods for Electrical Wires and Cables , or
(b) be located in,
(i) totally enclosed noncombustible raceways,
(ii) concealed spaces in walls,
(iii) concrete slabs, or
(iv) totally enclosed nonmetallic raceways conforming to Article 18.104.22.168.
So your electrician is right to install armoured cable. For the price of the cable, it ensures a safer installation.
If you are thinking of esthetics, you can paint the cable or have it installed in a plastic wiremold to conceal its ugliness.
For your own safety visit www.esasafe.com for rules on inspections and permits.
The classification of wire required is based on the building construction. Typical 4 story walk ups (wood construction) are wired with non-bx or NMD wire as we classify it. By the sound of your explanation, a concrete and steel stud building should have armoured cable (bx) to mechanically protect the wire against damage. Typically in instances where the wiring is to be ran on the surface - EMT conduit is a more standard practice, but BX will still meet the code requirement.
What I strongly suggest instead of BX cable, which I agree as well to your electrician that it is the approved type of wiring for the application, is the WIREMOULD. This is the alternative wiring type in order to make the installation compliant and pleasing to the eye also. Asked your electrician to explain you further this wiring and use this so it will help you solve the aesthetic issue for this job.
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