I wish I had my camera to post a pic of this to see if anyone else would be as shocked as I am. I am in the process of moving around some return ducts. So far all of them seem to have an electrical line run in the. That is irritating to me, but not enough to make me lose sleep at night. The thing I found in the last return does, however. The previous owner made and electrical junction inside the return duct. Not in any sort of junction box (just one of many junctions he did like that) and right above the metal return grill. Was this ever even remotely acceptable to do?
The only time I've ever heard of it being acceptable is in the case of fire-alarm cabling, and then only if they used "fire wire" (not the same as the computer FireWire, but red heat-resistant four-wire #24 cable). Especially the junction - there's NO way that should ever have been allowed.
I'll bet the cable isn't even routed through Romex connectors to get into the duct, right? Just poked through holes in the sides of the duct?
Calls to mind the big junction I found in the wall in the Albuquerque house; several cables were brought together, and the spliced ends wrapped with >>FRICTION TAPE<< & just left like that in the stud space directly above a through-vent between the LR & the kitchen. REALLY BAD practice.
The wires are coming through the floor joists since he used the ceiling space as the ductwork. He did put caulk in the holes the wires came through to make closer to airtight, but he didn't bother to put sheet metal between the joists and the subflooring in the attic. I think what bothers me the most is the thought of what if I wasn't a DIY kinda person. How many of these things would not ever get fixed or even noticed. That and how many things am I not noticing because I have no experience with.
During my time as a contractor, I was shocked & appalled to see some of the things other so-called "contractors" left behind. For example, one house I visited because of a leak at a single cold-water pipe elbow... all the plumbing was copper, and NONE of the joints in the entire house was ever prepped right for sweating. Never brushed, never had the oxide removed, never fluxed, just globbed together with solder. It's a screaming wonder that every joint in the house didn't simply blow apart.
Guy I work with told me about the floor joists in his kitchen. They had been notched for plumbing... from the bottom up... in the middle of the span... and there was only about a 2x2 left at the top to carry the load. Wonder he never fell through & broke his leg.
It is no longer ok to run romex in any part of an air circulation system. This includes the area above a hung ceiling if that is where the air handler draws from. You might be able to run MC through return air ducts still but I'm not sure and wouldn't if I could it just seems like a headache down the line.