We, electricians, hear about this phrase “do all electrical work in a workman-like manner” from the NEC, so here are my thoughts about how it applies to the aesthetics of running Romex (NM cable).
There are two schools of thought out there from a lot of electricians, have to think it doesn’t matter what the wires look like because they’re going to get covered up by drywall and the other half think everything that you do matters and that you should take pride in everything that you do. But I offer up a third option, take time and do things well but don’t take so much time that you’re wasting money.
A great electrician is somebody that can efficiently do correct work as quickly and neatly as possible. The reason people choose to hire professional companies is that they can do amazing work in a very short amount of time and because they’ve built a reputation for doing quality work. I’m from the school of thought that all of the work that I do needs to impress me. If it impresses me it will most likely impress other people. And the people that I want to impress or my customers, and inspectors.
When you just slap things together in a very sloppy manner it makes an inspector want to take a closer look at everything you do because they realize you are just a fast worker and you don’t care about the quality of what your work looks like to others. So if you don’t care about what other people think of your work you’re not going to care what you think of it either. I think it’s extremely important to care about the quality that you provide as an electrician.
Article 334 of the NEC talks about all of the different approved means of stapling Romex, and nowhere in there does it state it needs to be neatly stapled. The only mention of stapling is to make sure that flat cables are not stapled on edge, rather they are stacked on their flat edges on top of each other. This leaves a lot of leeway for strapping. This can cause a problem however because people tend to put far too many pieces of Romex together when running them through walls or securing them in groups. There is a rule for bundling conductors and you do have to D rate your conductors if you put too many of them together in any lengths exceeding 24 inches. Many people don’t do this, and it’s going against code when they do…regardless of how pretty it looks.
Doing work that looks neat is great, however, doing work that meets code is the higher priority. I do think both can be achieved, and that is what a great electrician should strive for.