Warning about Monoprice in-wall category cable - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 02-11-2013, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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All,

Just wanted to let everyone know that UL has issued a warning about Monoprice Cat 6 CMR cable (which is relatively rare for UL to do). The cable has been tested has has been found to not contain the necessary flame retardants to mark it as CMR. As they likely get much of their bulk wire from the same China factories, I would be very hesitant to buy their products right now. Also, if the factory is willing to cut corners on safety issues, would you be willing to trust the performance of the cable? Yeah, me neither.

http://www.ul.com/global/eng/pages/corporate/newsroom/newsitem.jsp?cpath=%2Fglobal%2Feng%2Fcontent%2Fcorporate%2Fnewsroom%2Fpublicnotices%2Fdata%2Ful-warns-of-potentially-hazardous-communications-cable-release_20130131080000.xml

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post #2 of 33 Old 02-11-2013, 08:36 AM
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Interesting.

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post #3 of 33 Old 02-11-2013, 08:45 AM
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Monoprice didn't pay for UL testing, and they slapped a UL label on that product.

US Manufacturers complain, UL tests, and it fails to pass CMR testing.

Just to clarify, CMR is for flame propagation - not toxic fumes. CMR isn't required in homes; CM is adequate. UL Didn't mention CM rating.

Whatever - Monoprice should get slapped with a big fine. Gotta play by the rules.

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post #4 of 33 Old 02-11-2013, 08:50 AM
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That pic of the box that UL posted is interesting. It isn't marked CMR, but shows CM CMR CMP CMX, and one of those boxes is supposed to be checked.

The type of cable is also not marked - UTP STP FTP

How did UL get this unmarked box? I bet it's CM rated cable. My boxes of UTP have a check mark or X next to UTP.

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post #5 of 33 Old 02-11-2013, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

That pic of the box that UL posted is interesting. It isn't marked CMR, but shows CM CMR CMP CMX, and one of those boxes is supposed to be checked.

The type of cable is also not marked - UTP STP FTP

How did UL get this unmarked box? I bet it's CM rated cable. My boxes of UTP have a check mark or X next to UTP.

Per the UL press release, the cable itself is marked CMR.

I've read in other media outlets that Monoprice is not allowed to mark UL on their cable at all, but the E-number on this cable is registered to Monoprice. But, clearly Monoprice is a secondary registrar as they don't actually make any of these cables - they just import them. This may be a case where some factory was using Monoprice's e-number without approval. (Only UL would be able to know this)

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post #6 of 33 Old 02-11-2013, 10:03 AM
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"The surface of the cable jacket displays the following description: MONOPRICE TYPE CM 23AWG 4PR UTP CMR FT4 C(UL)US VERIFIED (UL) CATEGORY6E TIA/EIA-568-B-2.1 550 MHZ CABLE MASTER"

http://technews.tmcnet.com/news/2013/02/04/6899169.htm

Not sure why the jacket says Type CM and also CMR.

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post #7 of 33 Old 02-11-2013, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

"The surface of the cable jacket displays the following description: MONOPRICE TYPE CM 23AWG 4PR UTP CMR FT4 C(UL)US VERIFIED (UL) CATEGORY6E TIA/EIA-568-B-2.1 550 MHZ CABLE MASTER"

http://technews.tmcnet.com/news/2013/02/04/6899169.htm

Not sure why the jacket says Type CM and also CMR.

Also marked UL verified to Cat 6e (there is no such thing) and the box says ETL verified (while marked UL verified on the wire itself). So clearly, this wire wasn't verified at all.

Also marked FT4 which is more/less the Canadian version of the US CMR. The wire is market c(UL)us while the box itself is marked CSA.

So many problems and inconsistencies here that just don't add up. This is the type of stuff that happens when a US company like Monoprice imports their own product from a foreign factory without really knowing about the product or verifying anything about it. This would never happen with a reputable wire manufacturer...

Again, it just makes you begin to question the overall quality of the wire.

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post #8 of 33 Old 02-11-2013, 11:53 AM
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It also doesn't make sense that some random distributor is listed on the UL page, instead of Monoprice.

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post #9 of 33 Old 02-12-2013, 03:59 PM
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Good to know, steer clear of their stuff for permanent installation I guess. Still good for normal cables.
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post #10 of 33 Old 02-12-2013, 05:56 PM
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I have about 6,000 feet (out of the original 7,000) feet of monoprice cat6 cable sitting in my laundry room right now waiting to be pulled. I checked the jacket and the text does NOT match that of the one in the news item. Should I be concerned at all? It seems maybe they swapped manufacturers and are being screwed over.

I also found this and am considering doing this test with a piece to see for myself how mine reacts:
Quote:
So look at a cable mark and you'll be able to say that some particular cable is suitable for some particular installation. And one very small remark. There is no big difference between CM and CMR cables, they are all PVC-based, but riser cables have more of those ballast materials to even more slow flame spread down. You may check it yourself. Try to burn CM cable while horizontal. It should burn only above a naked flame of your lighter. Rotate cable 90 degrees - and flame will move up (and quickly if the cable isn't that good) because of convection. Ideally, you shouldn't see this flame moving up with riser rated CMR cable.
There is DuPont site on the Internet located at http://www.dupont.com/teflon/cablingmaterials/generic/firetest.html It contains many interesting facts about cables and fires.

Based on what I've read, CMR is rated for vertical runs (Between floors, so I would assume that include from first floor to attic).
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post #11 of 33 Old 02-12-2013, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Meili View Post

I have about 6,000 feet (out of the original 7,000) feet of monoprice cat6 cable sitting in my laundry room right now waiting to be pulled. I checked the jacket and the text does NOT match that of the one in the news item. Should I be concerned at all? It seems maybe they swapped manufacturers and are being screwed over.

I also found this and am considering doing this test with a piece to see for myself how mine reacts:
Based on what I've read, CMR is rated for vertical runs (Between floors, so I would assume that include from first floor to attic).

So, what is the exact text printed on your wire? This would help in determining what they are saying it is rated for. Also, I've never heard of a quick-and-dirty test like the one described by Dupont where you can do a "home test" on your wire. If it works, great, but in my experience these tests are replicated in very expensive sessions at the UL labs.

Frankly, I'd also call up Monoprice and see what they have to say for themselves - perhaps they have a good explanation and a way of telling their good cable from the bad? And for the record - I'm a fan of monoprice and have purchased thousands of dollars worth of stuff from them. However, their bulk wire prices have always made me suspicious given all the foreign factories willing to cut corners on performance and safety to meet a lower price.

Best,

Carl

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post #12 of 33 Old 02-12-2013, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by fedders View Post

So, what is the exact text printed on your wire? This would help in determining what they are saying it is rated for.

MONOPRICE CAT6 GIGASYSTEM TESTED TO 500MHZ---E239415 UTP 4PR 23AWG 75ºC (UL) CMR---ETL VERIFIED TO TIA/EIA-568-B.2 ROHS COMPLIANT 0234FT V10145 WWW.MONOPRICE.COM

Please note that mine says "CAT6" and not "CAT6e" like the one listed on the UL page (making me think that it's not the same stuff)
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Also, I've never heard of a quick-and-dirty test like the one described by Dupont where you can do a "home test" on your wire. If it works, great, but in my experience these tests are replicated in very expensive sessions at the UL labs.

Yes, but its a simple test. If CMR shouldn't "burn vertically" then this test should be a simple way of proving that without doing an actual chemical analysis on the casing.
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Frankly, I'd also call up Monoprice and see what they have to say for themselves - perhaps they have a good explanation and a way of telling their good cable from the bad? And for the record - I'm a fan of monoprice and have purchased thousands of dollars worth of stuff from them. However, their bulk wire prices have always made me suspicious given all the foreign factories willing to cut corners on performance and safety to meet a lower price.

I do plan on calling them and luckily I planned out my wire runs. While re-running wire would be a pain, at least I have cable trays in the attic and the wires organizes in a way to help me with re-pulling them if needed.
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post #13 of 33 Old 02-12-2013, 08:43 PM
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I just tried my best to catch my monoprice cat6 cable on fire (as described in my link) with a butane lighter (not 100% sure how hot they get, but I've heard up to 2,000F). I couldn't for the life of me get the cable to even burn horizontally (it did melt a bit).

so, yeah, I am still going to call monoprice and verify, but I'm feeling pretty good about what's in my attic right now. Saying the text on my cable doesn't match that of what they tested, i'm not going to assume that mine has the same issues. Like I said though, I will verify with monoprice still.

I will, however, not be buying any cable from Monoprice until they can tell me they have this issue resolved.
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post #14 of 33 Old 02-12-2013, 08:48 PM
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Clearly Monoprice should get fined if they are mixed up in these shinanegens but I feel like if my LAN cabe is on fire I probably have bigger things to worry about.
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post #15 of 33 Old 02-12-2013, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Meili View Post

MONOPRICE CAT6 GIGASYSTEM TESTED TO 500MHZ---E239415 UTP 4PR 23AWG 75ºC (UL) CMR---ETL VERIFIED TO TIA/EIA-568-B.2 ROHS COMPLIANT 0234FT V10145 WWW.MONOPRICE.COM

Clearly a different legend, I agree. What's weird now is that this e-number (e239415) does not show up in the UL directory. You can check here: http://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/index.htm

Perhaps this number wasn't typed in exactly correct?

Also, does your box look the same as the pictures from UL? Your legend no longer states anything about FT4 or any c(UL) Canadian rating. Does the box have these markings? Also, does your box have a UL hologram (sticker) on it which proves that Monoprice has the approval from UL to use their mark?
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Please note that mine says "CAT6" and not "CAT6e" like the one listed on the UL page (making me think that it's not the same stuff)
Yes, but its a simple test. If CMR shouldn't "burn vertically" then this test should be a simple way of proving that without doing an actual chemical analysis on the casing.
I do plan on calling them and luckily I planned out my wire runs. While re-running wire would be a pain, at least I have cable trays in the attic and the wires organizes in a way to help me with re-pulling them if needed.

Again, interesting on the burn test. I've never heard of it being used as a field test by anyone in the industry, but Dupont is a well-respected name, especially for plenum-rated cables.

Best,

Carl

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post #16 of 33 Old 02-12-2013, 11:08 PM
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Could be counterfeit of monoprice product. Note that the source identified in the link in the OP is not monoprice. Hopefully the monoprice folks will chime in and set the record straight one way or the other.
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post #17 of 33 Old 02-13-2013, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingpin748 View Post

Clearly Monoprice should get fined if they are mixed up in these shinanegens but I feel like if my LAN cabe is on fire I probably have bigger things to worry about.

What if you have to drill though firestops to run the cable, and then put the firestop goo in per code?
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post #18 of 33 Old 02-13-2013, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BiggAW View Post

What if you have to drill though firestops to run the cable, and then put the firestop goo in per code?

That only works if the wires are also to code...

Carl

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post #19 of 33 Old 02-13-2013, 04:49 PM
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That only works if the wires are also to code...

Carl

That's my point. You want cables that are up to code, otherwise they are the weak link.
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post #20 of 33 Old 02-15-2013, 11:51 AM
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Maybe I missed it the other day, but now there is a photo of the cable on the UL site:



The cable clearly states 'Type CM', and not CMR.

I smell politics. The single listed distributor may have been selling the cable as Type CMR.

Why doesn't the description of the label match the pictured cable?

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post #21 of 33 Old 02-19-2013, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Maybe I missed it the other day, but now there is a photo of the cable on the UL site:



The cable clearly states 'Type CM', and not CMR.

I smell politics. The single listed distributor may have been selling the cable as Type CMR.

Why doesn't the description of the label match the pictured cable?

Look further down the wire. They state CM on the front part of the legend and then CMR with the FT4. Not politics. It is frustrating for US wire companies who make legitimate wire that meet standards. Trust me, I've looked at lots of imported category wire in my career and while there are some Asian companies that you can trust, the vast majority cut corners or frankly didn't even know what they were printing on the wire. (or what it meant)

When the price of the wire seems too good to be true for one reason or another - it usually is.

Carl

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post #22 of 33 Old 02-19-2013, 09:46 AM
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The pictured cable jacket doesn't match with the description.

"Identification: On the cable: The surface of the cable jacket displays the following description:

MONOPRICE TYPE CM 23AWG 4PR UTP CMR FT4 C(UL)US VERIFIED (UL) CATEGORY6E TIA/EIA-568-B-2.1 550 MHZ CABLE MASTER"

That is not printed here:

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post #23 of 33 Old 02-19-2013, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, it appears that Monoprice has recognized its issues and has some new processes in place to hopefully correct these issues:

Source: Cabling and Installation Maintenance
http://www.cablinginstall.com/articles/2013/february/monoprice-response-to-ul.html

Monoprice responds to UL alert about its Cat 6 cable
February 13, 2013

An associate product manager for Monoprice has made a statement addressing the recent notice that UL issued, alerting the public to Monoprice cable that uses the UL mark without authorization and lacks certain fire-retardant materials. In the Comments section of our news story about the UL alert, as well as in an email to Cabling Installation & Maintenance, Monoprice’s Chris Apland detailed the company’s side of the issue.

“Unbeknownst to us at the time, Monoprice’s former vendor for the product in question was inappropriately labeling our product certifications,” Apland explained. “Monoprice terminated our relationship with the vendor in question when we discovered these malpractices. We apologize to both UL and to our customers for any confusion this may have caused. To our knowledge, there have been no safety problems reported with these cables.

“Monoprice has a new process in place to evaluate that all UL certificates on our products are legitimate,” he continued. “We have since quarantined our inventory of the mislabeled product and have contracted with a new vendor to only sell verified UL CMR/CMP/CM bulk cable. We also now employ a double certification process to avoid such occurrences from happening again.”

Apland added that Monoprice’s “new vendor provides a higher quality Cat 6 bulk cable that includes the critical fire retardant material called for in the UL complaint. Our new vendor also has certificates from authorized UL testing centers.

“Apparently, UL was not aware of our recent new processes when issuing their statement,” Apland said. “However, we have since been in contact with UL through our China office, and have made them aware of the situation. We have informed UL of our new improved UL evaluation processes in place, and are awaiting their updated response.

“Monoprice takes the legitimacy of our products and certifications very seriously, as we do the safety and well-being of our customers,” Apland concluded.

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post #24 of 33 Old 02-19-2013, 12:12 PM
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Well, that's the result I was hoping to see from all this - Monoprice got duped by the (now EX-) manufacturer, dumped them, and have added more compliance checks / safeguards so they don't get fooled again... Much, much bigger companies have gone through the same learning process when dealing with low-cost manufacturing!

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post #25 of 33 Old 02-19-2013, 12:51 PM
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Unfortunately monoprice's business model sets them up for this kind of problem. There seem to be a handful of reliable cable manufacturers in China, and lots of not so reliable ones that will undercut the competition to get the business and then cut costs at the expense of the customer. Monoprice seems to have fallen into the trap of taking the lowest bid. There are lots of ways unscrupulous cable manufacturers screw customers: smaller gauge wires than specified, copper coated aluminum instead of solid copper, elimination of fire retardents,etc. I don't see how monoprice is going to prevent this from happening again unless they go with reliable suppliers. The cost of effectively policing the suppliers has to be prohibitive.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm View Post

Unfortunately monoprice's business model sets them up for this kind of problem. There seem to be a handful of reliable cable manufacturers in China, and lots of not so reliable ones that will undercut the competition to get the business and then cut costs at the expense of the customer. Monoprice seems to have fallen into the trap of taking the lowest bid. There are lots of ways unscrupulous cable manufacturers screw customers: smaller gauge wires than specified, copper coated aluminum instead of solid copper, elimination of fire retardents,etc. I don't see how monoprice is going to prevent this from happening again unless they go with reliable suppliers. The cost of effectively policing the suppliers has to be prohibitive.

It's not just isolated to Monoprice's model - anyone dealing with low-cost outsourcing / manufacturers can fall victim to the same issues. It's not a "lowest bid" quality problem, more a cheat figuring out where they can cut corners (to increase profit) and not get caught. Wire gauge, as an example, would be something easy for Monoprice to inspect and detect (assuming they do). Presence of a fire retardant chemical in the insulation, not as simple. And now they also know they can't just accept a "UL certificate" without verifying and auditing...

I believe it was a 60 Minutes story (or a CNBC documentary) about counterfeit goods a few month back where they showed a number of items that were counterfeiting the UL certification. I scratched my head as to why - does UL really charge that much to have the testing done? The answer was different - the products they were making wouldn't pass if they submitted them. The 'high volume' case was cheap surge protector / power strips (back to the wire gauge issue!) where there was so little copper inside it would overheat under moderate use...
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post #27 of 33 Old 02-19-2013, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

It's not just isolated to Monoprice's model - anyone dealing with low-cost outsourcing / manufacturers can fall victim to the same issues. It's not a "lowest bid" quality problem, more a cheat figuring out where they can cut corners (to increase profit) and not get caught. Wire gauge, as an example, would be something easy for Monoprice to inspect and detect (assuming they do). Presence of a fire retardant chemical in the insulation, not as simple. And now they also know they can't just accept a "UL certificate" without verifying and auditing...

I believe it was a 60 Minutes story (or a CNBC documentary) about counterfeit goods a few month back where they showed a number of items that were counterfeiting the UL certification. I scratched my head as to why - does UL really charge that much to have the testing done? The answer was different - the products they were making wouldn't pass if they submitted them. The 'high volume' case was cheap surge protector / power strips (back to the wire gauge issue!) where there was so little copper inside it would overheat under moderate use...

Exactly. And further to the point, I don't let the distributors off the hook when these stories come out. Some of the blame has to be on these import re-sellers who do not inspect, test, or even visit the factories that make these products for them. Performance testing is relatively easy to do on product at-random that comes into their stock, but would require a testing machine investment (for bulk wire) of $200K or so. For the safety side - they could follow-up with UL or ETL to make sure that this factory does not have compliance issues.

I do applaud Monoprice for seemingly owning up to these issues - but I still have to ask where the recall notice was posted several months ago when they supposedly realized there was an issue with their supplier? As a result, we now have hundreds of DIY homeowners with non-compliant wire sitting in the walls of their homes.

Carl

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post #28 of 33 Old 02-19-2013, 11:24 PM
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Consider this...even international food giant Nestle cannot keep horse meat from getting into its beef products...
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post #29 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 08:59 AM
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Can
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiggAW View Post

What if you have to drill though firestops to run the cable, and then put the firestop goo in per code?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fedders View Post

That only works if the wires are also to code...

Carl

Can't argue with that. Code is code. I guess I just don't care. Everywhere else I go I get ripped of on 14g in wall wire though.
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post #30 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kingpin748 View Post

Can

Can't argue with that. Code is code. I guess I just don't care. Everywhere else I go I get ripped of on 14g in wall wire though.

You should care. Should the unfortunate happen, you do not want to give the insurance company any reason to not pay you. Of course, the safety of yourself and your family are also important!

Carl

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