You can safely drill joists for electrical and plumbing runs without weakening the joists, if you follow the rules.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:April 2007
Drill holes with a diameter
of no more than one-third
the depth of the joist, staying
2 in. away from the top
Drill 1-1/2-in. holes anywhere in the web
area of engineered I-joists, except within
6 in. of walls and rim joists.
Where and how to drill joists for electrical cables or plumbing runs depends on what type of floor framing you have. Keep the hole
at least 2 in. from the top and the bottom if it's a dimensional lumber
joist. The hole cannot be larger than one-third the depth of the joist,
so the maximum hole size for a 2x12 joist (actual size 1-1/2 x 11-1/4 in.)
is 3-3/4 in. diameter—plenty big enough for running cable! You can drill
the holes anywhere along the length of the joist (first photo).
If you have manufactured I-joists, you can drill holes up to 1-1/2 in.
diameter almost anywhere in the web area (the area between the
flanges). Just stay 6 in. away from any end or load-bearing wall (second photo). Holes up to 4 in. can be drilled in the middle of the I-joist, away
from the ends and load-bearing wall. Keep the distance between adjacent
holes at least twice the diameter of the largest hole. For holes larger than
4 in., consult the lumber supplier.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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