Abandoned thoughts

April 1, 2002
Maybe "abandoned" cable should be called something else that will provoke building owners to remove it

Maybe "abandoned" cable should be called something else that will provoke building owners to remove it.

My bad.

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In the January issue, I went off about why we should rid the world of useless cabling that has accumulated in the plenum spaces of office buildings throughout the country (see "Cleaning up after ourselves," page 9). Well, I was so busy patting myself on the back for my "original" idea that I neglected to mention that the 2002 National Electrical Code says that we have to get rid of the stuff.

Several readers wrote to me, kindly stated that I hit on a worthwhile topic, and tactfully said that letting all of this magazine's readers know about the new NEC requirement might be a good thing.

Beth Levin, a designer with Cosentini Information Technologies, wrote, "All cabling is a potential river of fire. National Electrical Code 2002 will require that all low-voltage abandoned cable be removed from accessible spaces (see Section 800.52(B) and other applicable sections).

"When adopted by a local authority having jurisdiction [AHJ], this additional cost to owners will be a requirement, not an option. This means a possible doubling of the cost to install new cabling when the old is not in conduit and therefore, non-accessible.

"Bidding contractors will have to price this requirement into a job, once they pull a permit to cable and NEC 2002 is in effect by that AHJ.

"I remember old, abandoned PVC cabling bundles that had congealed together, and had to be hack-sawed out in chunks from the ceilings to utilize an existing pathway, in which case the contractor's use of that ceiling pathway should be additional cost (versus providing a new pathway as part of their scope of work). When and if NEC 2002 is in effect, the contractor will have to use this removal as an additional line item."

Stan Folz of Folz Electric said, "Removal of old cabling has been a pet peeve of mine for the last ten years." He pointed out Section 800.52(B) and also 830.3(A) of the 2002 NEC specifically, and added, "There are other references to removal of other low-voltage abandoned cables, such as instrumentation and HVAC controls.

"In the past, customers would balk at paying extra to remove old cabling, or a competitive bid was not competitive if you included removing old cable. Now it's required, although it will probably take ten years or so until it is cleaned up."

And an anonymous network administrator within an insurance company commented, "The trouble I am having is proving why this is good practice." And once this administrator armed himself with the fact that removing abandoned cable is now required by code, does he believe he will get the go-ahead to remove it? "Not likely," was his honest reply.

That reply stayed with me. Here's a network manager who wants nothing more than to get rid of the cables in his ceiling that are of no use to him. And based on my correspondence with him, I have concluded that a corporate decision may very well keep him from doing so, despite the logical arguments and the code requirement.

At that point, I was out of ideas and just about out of energy. Then I thought maybe all it needs is a name change. This industry is no stranger to name changes. If the "RJ-45" can become the "8-pin modular," the "main distribution frame" can become the "main crossconnect," and the "telecom closet" can become the "telecom room," then maybe "abandoned" cable can become something that will provoke building owners to remove it.

How about "forlorn cable"? Nah. Maybe "forsaken cable"? Sounds like it comes from a trashy romance novel. Then it hit me: "cable that will put you out of compliance with a building code if you don't get it the heck out of there."

Kind of subtle, but I think it might work.

Patrick McLaughlinis chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

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