Extension cords through walls

Home Inspector with Elliott Home Inspection

When performing the electrical portion of a home or condo inspection.  I'll occasionally run into cases where the property owner knowing nothing of electrical systems decides the best way to power up appliances is through the use of an extension plug.


Use of an extension plug record in and of itself is not a big problem.  As long as they are temporary.


The key word here is temporary as extension plugs are not meant to be used as permanent wiring solutions. 

When I see an extension plug has been run through a wall.  I know it is not meant as a temporary solution and not only that but I consider it extremely dangerous.

Extension plugs need lots of air to dissipate the heat that surrounds the conductors inside the covering.  And when running them through walls and ceilings, doorways or through floors.  The heat can build up and spark a fire.

extension plug through wall

 I doubt if even Lloyds of London insurance would cover this in case of fire.

Notice that cable was brought up through the wall probably to connect the television set on one side with component video equipment on the other side of the wall.In this particular case there was a fireplace on the other side with no built-in electrical outlet.

When running any electrical extension cord device always make sure to check the tag and see that it is UL listed, also check the label on the cord to see the extension cord is able to handle the amperage of the appliance it is connected to.

Comments (28)

Matt Yogerst
RE/MAX Realty 100 - Menomonee Falls, WI
Metro Milwaukee Real Estate
Great Post! As a past electrician, I was always amazed at the creativity, stupidity and cheapness of some people. Yes cords are a quick fix, temporary solution, but can't people learn just to do things the right way to start?
Mar 07, 2008 04:38 AM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Well guys and gals since I have been drafted to do a presentation for first time buyers tommorow , with short notice, I will be doing part of it as home owner safety.

I have been in thousands of homes over the years and know that the less funds people have the more likely they are to do it themselves.

This pic will make a good addition though I prepared it for this blog.(I was way over due for one)

My other big worry is carbon Monoxide and the practice of leaving the stove burners on along with the oven.

This is often done with small kids running around.

We sometimes forget not everyone knows what we do.(no matter how simple)

Mar 07, 2008 06:38 AM
Chuck Willman
Chuck Willman - Alpine, UT

They forgot one important home improvement thing. Duct Tape. Oh... and bailing wire. Two things. :-)

Sep 14, 2008 05:33 AM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Hey I love duct tape.

Not sure why I do .

Sep 14, 2008 05:45 PM

If the television is using its original power cord, and the cord makes a short run through an interior sheetrock to sheet rock wall, between two studs, and the owner knows of the cables location, the cable is no hazzard at all.

The problem lies with leaving the cord in the wall for the next buyer, which most likely would not happen in this situation, unless the current owner is leaving the tv with the house.

Even if a nail pierced this cable from say, hanging a picture, it should pop the breaker as in-wall romex would.  And if the cord is rated correctly for the device, there is zero chance that it will heat up enough to cause a fire.  That sort of amperage would cause the homes breaker to kick off.  That is, if this cord is plugged into a correctly installed outlet.

I generally agree with your opinion on this issue though.


Dec 01, 2008 06:39 AM

I am going to add, that it is technically not in violation of the code you are refering to, unless the extension cord is hardwired to the homes electrical system.  Having the cord plugged into the wall or surge protector, then making the run through the wall, as seen in your picture, is no more a violation of the code then if would be to have an extension cord run behind a piece of furniture.  Extension cords are supposed to technically be visible, so you can ensure they are not being damaged.  Let's be realistic though.  When asking an electrician about the above example, you are going to get the "technically" answer, because the code has a grey area.  This technically is acceptable, but not the safest route.

Dec 01, 2008 07:14 AM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Rob, explain that to the many families suffering from loss of a loved one in a fire.

I hope you are not a Electrician or an Inspector.

Look up the term arc.

Dec 02, 2008 10:53 AM
Frank Torre
Torre Inspection Service, LLC 888-202-8869 - Hicksville, NY

Hi Bob, another great post it amazing to me what some people will do not to call a electrician.

Dec 02, 2008 12:10 PM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

I just had one on Sunday ,where they ran an extension cord through wire mold that was plugged in to an recepticle above the kitchen cabinet and ended in another cabinet at he other end.

I almost missed it ,and same place had a powerstrip plugged in and mounted on the side of the island counter ,but no source seen as it ended inside the wall somewhere.

I will post pics later ,but need to get some sleep for tommorows 6 unit inspection.

I am suprised to be fairly busy in December.

Dec 02, 2008 02:32 PM

Bob there is no need to explain such a thing to any victims.  I do not need to look up the term Arc either.   I am not recommending someone to do what you show in your example just because there is a grey area in the code.  As I said earlier, i don't recommend it.   I am simply saying, apparently you can get away with the example you show.  Unfortunately, it is being done all over the place.


I have also seen some situations where people use a "romex extension cord" through the wall for there tv, made from two plug heads (male and female), and a piece of romex.



Dec 08, 2008 11:57 AM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

There is no grey area.

It is not allowed.

Dec 08, 2008 03:11 PM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

It is not allowed.

Both OSHA and the NEC are adament in stating that extension cords should not be used as permanant conductors or  be run through walls.

I am not sure why you would continue to be in denial on this subject?

Please go here to read .


Dec 08, 2008 03:28 PM
Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate

We always had problems when I was in the Navy because no one understood the word "temporary".  If you used an extension cord, you needed to unplug it when you went home for the night.  Unfortunately, some places are open 24-7 and to run the equipment you need an electrical outlet.  Doesn't help when the place burns down.  Every rule or regulation is written with someones blood on it.

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