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Abandoned Cable Liability Issue

Abandoned cable in the drop ceiling

Abandoned cable in the drop ceiling

As tenants come and go in a commercial building, the cabling infrastructure sometimes leaves behind abandoned Cat5, Cat6 and coax cabling. All that needs to happen is for the new tenant to request a reconfigured layout that relocates the main wall closet. Or, sometimes the old tenant will cut away the cabling in order to take the patch panels with them. If possible, keep the wall closet location. And always offer to buy the patch panels from a departing tenant.

The accumulation of abandoned cable can pose a few problems:

  • It is required that building management remove all abandoned code. Leaving it up in the ceiling is a code violation in the majority of jurisdictions that adopt NEC and NFPA standards.
  • Abandoned cable can accumulate and act as a fuel source. Disreputable cable installation companies sometimes promise to install plenum (fire-resistant) cable but instead put in PVC because it is less expensive. Unaware building management might not ever know that this is happening.
  • Old cable can create full risers that will impede the ability to run new cable between floors of a commercial building.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the building owner to make sure that all of the old cable is removed during a cabling upgrade project. But even if the tenant signs an agreement that they will comply, the liability still remains with the building owner. So, it is incumbent upon the owner to be aware of what cable is active and abandoned within the building and to closely monitor all new cabling projects.

Get the old cable out and always use, high-quality, plenum-rated (fire resistant) cable so that you will have a high performance and safe building for your tenants.

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