Electrical Question

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Hi,
I am replacing my medicine cabinet in my bathroom. The old medicine cabinet had the bathroom lights built-in to it at the top. My new medicine cabinet has no lights so I need to install some lighting above it.
My question - the wiring for the light needs to be extended by a foot or so. It is too short to reach where the new lighting will be installed. I have never done electrical work -- is it as easy as just buying a small piece of wire -- hooking up the black, white and copper wire ends of each wire?
Please any help is appreciated. You can assume that I know nothing about wiring - I will not be offended by very obvious things being explained.
Thanks, Joe
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No. It is an electrical code requirement that *all* junctions be made inside junction boxes approved for that purpose, *and* that the junctions be accessible. Simply extending the cable as you describe will not meet code.

Since you've never done this before, for your own safety and that of others, PLEASE get someone who understands wiring to help you or show you how, or at least get a book from the library. Electricity is dangerous if mishandled. Mistakes can kill.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Yes, however you have to make splices in splice boxes, which have to be accessible. In your case you'd need to find a location where the cable will reach to, where you can install such a box, or if that won't work, you have to run a new cable from the switch to the new location

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Thanks - this was the type of info I was looking for. I have no business trying to do this myself and will hire a professional. Thanks, Joe
RBM (remove this) wrote:

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RBM (remove this) wrote:

Has anyone ever wondered about the reasons for the boxes required to be accessible? I certainly agree that it is highly desirable and should always be done where practical. For example, it makes later trouble shooting easier.
However, in a case like this, what exactly is the big deal if the box that contains the splice were not accessible? For example, it doesn;t suddenly become a fire or safety hazhard, does it? It would seem to me if you were allowed to use a metal box and cover (to prevent driving a nail into it) it would still be fine, even if not accessible. And it would make some jobs a hell of a lot easier.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The "big deal" is that, barring some sort of mechanical damage, faults almost occur in the wiring between boxes. Problems develop at junctions. That's why junctions need to be accessible.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

And so what? It's very unlikely that any given box that has just a simple splice will ever develop a problem. And if it does, so what? Why can't you just deal with it then? In many cases, you can't just put an accessible box in because of the location. So, instead, you wind up rerouting the wiring, all the way back to the accessible end points, which can be a real headache. Now, I'd rather do that later, replacing the wire IF the inaccessible junction box did develop a problem, rather than always ahead of time, on the theory that someday in MIGHT require access.

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The problem is that if it were "legal", it would be done all over as a lazy man's solution. I agree that a properly made splice isn't likely to cause a problem, and burying one in the wall is certainly not a fire hazard or every recessed light fixture would be a fire hazard as well. The real problem as I see it, is if the splice does go bad, you'd have no way to even guess at where the buried box is located
wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

You can't "just deal with it then" because if the junction box is concealed, you don't even know where it is.

Hey, don't argue with me about it -- argue with the NFPA. They're the ones who wrote the National Electrical Code, not me. I'm guessing they have a little better handle on electrical safety than either you or I do.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

concealed,
who
little
A basic point being, you aren't wiring so YOU can fix it later, you are wiring so the poor SOB twenty years from now will have a clue what is going on so HE can fix it.
aem sends...
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Doug Miller wrote:

You don't have to know where it is to deal with it. For example, in the extremely unlikely event that a light stops working on a line that happens to have a concealed junction box, and it's verified that there is no continuity between the switch and the light, then you just run a new wire. That's what you would do in any case, if you couldn;t see or trace the wire and had a problem.
The only difference is, if the concealed box were allowed, you could do the wire run someday, IF, the simple splice in the concealed box failed. The way it is now, you have to do it upfront, to meet code.

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

"Just run a new wire". Often easier said than done, particularly in older homes -- and obviously much more difficult than repairing a failed splice.

And this makes life easier exactly how -- ?
Like I said, argue with the NFPA. They're the ones who wrote the NEC, and I suspect they have a little better handle on electrical safety than either you or I.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

You obviously don't get it, because the difficulty of running a new wire is exactly the problem that allowing an inaccessible box would avoid. The point is since you are not allowed to have an inaccessible box, in many cases you are forced to do run a new wire right away. IF you were allowed to do a box, then hide it, there are many cases where you would have a simple solution, instead of being forced to run a wire.
Take the case of a wall that is going to be be covered with tile, but has an outlet that is no longer needed. If you could remove the outlet, splice, cover and hide, you would have an easy solution. Not having that option is what forces you to either put an ugly cover plate in the middle of the wall or run a new wire, regardless of how difficult that might be. And you have to run it today, not someday 30 years from now, IF the hidden splice were to come undone, which is a remote possibility.
Or even the case of the OP. He likely doesn't want a box with cover plate staring him in the face next to his new medicine cabinet. So, what's he gonna do? He will wind up having to run a new wire.

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

No, I "get it" just fine. You're the one who is missing something: that if the boxes are accessible, there's no need to run new cables.
Look -- argue the point with the NFPA. They're the ones who made the rules, not me, and I'm sure they know a lot more about electrical safety than you do.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

(snip)
Or just go with small side sconces instead of a top light, or put another convenience outlet there. Great place to put one of those flat panel night lights, so you don't have to wake all the way up when you need to take a leak in the middle of the night. Women really like a dedicated hair dryer outlet with a hook right beside it. Another thought, if the wire comes up from below, is to put the junction box and the blank cover plate below the counter in the vanity. Yes, it is a PITA, but it shouldn't be that big a deal to come up with a workaround.
aem sends...
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Careful with the attributions, please... I didn't write that.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

Ooops, sorry about that- unintentional, I assure you. Those darn >s all run together with my blurry eyes. Didn't mean to single out a particular poster in any case, just had some further thougts on the whole thread.
aem sends...
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What *I* would do is cut a hole in the back of the medicine cabinet, and stick a cover-plate over that. Or hang the cabinet on brackets.

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If you can take the medicine cabinet out without damaging the building finish, a box behind it IS accessible.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Andy writes: Because it needs to be available for inspection by the electrical inspector.....
Otherwise, any jackleg electrician wannabee would just twist a couple wires together and maybe put some electrical tape on it, and make a fire hazard...
The splice must be made in accordance with the electrical code, and , since an inspector isn't usually present when these things are done, it must be made available for inspection when he comes to sign off on the electrical work...
A LOT of rules are done like that...... Anything that is easy to take short cuts on instead of following safe practices has to be made available for inspection.... and that means it is accessible so the dude can look at it...
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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