In the course of remodeling my bathroom, I just discovered that the
knucklehead who remodeled it the last time, some 25 or 30 years ago, made a
splice inside the wall, behind the sink backsplash -- but not, unfortunately,
in a junction box.
In the wall behind the sink cabinet are two stick-built medicine cabinets with
mirrored doors that slide in tracks. Between the two is another large mirror,
that also slides (although with some difficulty). There's sufficient space
behind the central mirror to mount a proper junction box: see photo at
showing what it looks like with the central mirror slid all the way to the
And it seems to me that doing so *does* comply with at least the *letter*
of the NEC requirements for accessibility, if not the spirit:
"Boxes ... shall be installed so that the wiring contained in them can be
rendered accessible without REMOVING any part of the building ..." [2005
and 2008 NEC, Art. 314.29 (emphasis added)]
LOL - hadn't thought about it that way, but you're quite right. Thanks. I
think that's probably the route I'll go, then, as the only other reasonable
alternative I've come up with is to cut a hole in the new backsplash and mount
a GFCI receptacle there... bleah.
Don't muck up your bathroom. Go with the hidden box. Terms like "accessible"
crack me up. Every time I have to force my hand through a Lightolier 2002
razor sharp recessed frame to access the "accessible" junction box, to
replace a defective thermal cutout, I question that definition.
I had the same situation as OP, a floating butt splice in the wall,
feeding the counter convenience outlet, behind a replacement medicine
cabinet. Abandon the run and fish a new wire to an accessible location,
preferably directly from the power source to a GFCI outlet, or if it is
a switched feed, to the load fixtures. From his description, I bet the
existing run fed the original medicine cabinet light/outlet.
Is this above a basement? Would a new junction in basement ceiling work
to feed the runs? Or maybe a box in the dry side of the vanity? I don't
understand the current cabinet setup- sliding glass panels over a wall
cavity? Did he recycle some old store display case bits? Seems like that
would be drafty, or invite condensation in the wall space, and paint
problems over that cavity in the room behind it. As long as bathroom is
messed up anyway, I would spend the bucks to change that situation.
Those wires that drop down behind the vanity- do they feed lights in the
2 cabinets on either side, or what? They don't look real legal either.
Not practical to abandon the run. One of the four cables in that splice runs
horizontally, around a corner, and behind a wall covered with glass tiles
(1950s Vitrolite, hard to find and expensive to replace -- I have no desire to
risk breaking even one), then upward through a firestop, to supply power to
the switches for the overhead lights. The other three cables would be easy to
replace, but fishing a replacement for that one is much harder.
These *are* the original medicine cabinets. It appears that the existing run
originally fed a receptacle in the glass tile that once served as a backsplash
for the original countertop.
Yes to the first, probably not to the second -- see above re the one cable
that's not easy to replace.
Possibly... I'll measure to see if there's enough length available on that one
cable. Thanks for the idea.
The cabinets are stick-built. I have no idea whether the sliding mirrors were
intended to be used as medicine cabinets, or if they were recycled from a soda
fountain or what, but *that* part of the construction, at any rate, is
certainly original (1955).
Been here nine years, and haven't observed any of those problems. It's an
interior wall, with a room above it on the second story.
My biggest concerns here are meeting Code, and saving time. Money to reroute
ten or twelve feet of 14-2, and add one junction box, isn't really an issue.
They feed GFCI outlets mounted at the ends of the vanity cabinet. The only
Code violation I saw in those cables is that they had been mounted to the wall
behind the vanity with bent nails, instead of proper cable staples, a
situation which I intend to correct. Code does not require NM cable to be run
inside walls: "... for both exposed and concealed work in normally dry
locations ..." [2005 NEC, Art. 334.10(A)(1)]
The current code calls for a 20 amp circuit dedicated exclusively for
bathroom receptacles throughout the house or for a 20 amp circuit to be used
exclusively for everything in one bathroom. If that circuit meets one of
the above criteria then a GFI receptacle could be installed.
The only junction boxes should be outlet boxes, switch boxes and light
boxes which are always accessable. You should not have junctions within
walls or use boxes to connect 'short' wires. Use the correct length and
avoid junction boxes except in the basement or attic.
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