Patching over electrical outlets

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I've got a couple of outlet holes in wood panelling that I'm planning to patch, then paint over when I paint the paneling.
My plan is as follows: disconnect the electrical circuit from the outlet (there is no way to remove the wood panel to remove the outlet or replace it from behind), fill the outlet with foam to about 1/8" below the panel surface, then fill with polyfiller. The question is: Should I top it off with the fiber tape, or with drywall mud and then use drywall tape to get the top surface smooth and prevent cracking?
I'm leaning more towards the drywall tape and mud idea. Is it ok to put drywall mud ontop of the set polyfiller?
Thanks
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Well first things first - Electric Code in many places forbid having a live circuit or a circuit that can be energized buried in a outlet box, floor box, ceiling, and so on. To meet code for what you are doing, you must disconnect the circuit completely. Trace it back to the nearest junction box or panel and remove it from where it there. At this point, follow the wire back as far as you can and cut it off right at the point where the wire enters the wall or similar structure and use a screwdriver to push the cut end into the wall. The circuit can no longer be energized, and then you may do the same at the outlet end. I must warn you, if you are not familiar with working in a electrical service panel, you may want to hire an electrician to take care of that part. If you undertake the project and must work in the panel, just remember that a service panel is NOT completely dead by throwing the main breaker or pulling the main fuse holder. The main wires from the street and the lugs they are attached to in the panel are live all the time. Use caution. I may be telling you things you already know, better to be safe than sorry on my part... lol
As for the box, If it is attached to a stud or similar item in the wall, then it is called a "new work" box. If it is held in place to the panel with metal tabs or is a plastic box with wings held in place with screws in opposite corners of the box, then it is called a "old work" box.
If it is old work, pull the box completely. If it is new work, and you have the room behind the box in the wall, I would use a blunt object and a hammer to bash the box back into the wall, or even better, get it to fall into the wall and out of the way. If that is not possible, just try to bend the box back far enough for the next step.If you have trouble, get a bigger hammer.
Use narrow strips of wood or plywood (any thickness) cut to lengths longer than the outlet opening and begin to fill in the opening by securing the strips with drywall screws driven thru the paneling and into the strips at the top and bottom of the opening. Drive the screws in so that the heads are just slightly recessed in the paneling. When you get to last piece, simply drive a screw into the middle of the strip just enough for the screw to grab. Holding onto this screw, hold the strip in place in the opening and secure it with screws top and bottom. Remove your "grabbing screw" and the hole is filled. I recommend the use of plywood, as it is much less likely to split than solid wood strips in narrow widths and allow the screw to really grab and slightly recess for the purpose of filling.
Now the filler to bring it flush...
Bondo (brand name), also known as automotive body filler, and/or fiberglass reinforced polyester filler, is a great multi-use product when used properly. I use Bondo to fill natural defects in paint grade woodwork such as knots, and..ahem..man made defects my power tools frequently inflict in my work <grin>. Truth to be told, It is a much more flexible product than typical wood fillers and spackling compounds...Perfect for use on wood as wood naturally will expand and contract with humidity and temperature changes.
Layer the filler in the opening, pushing it into the voids between the wood strips to really give it something to grab.Work layers of Bondo no thicker than a quarter of an inch at a time, as the Bondo shrinks intensively when applied in thicker applications. When the Bondo sets, it will have a glossy appearance. Rough up this gloss with course sandpaper or gently scrape it with a chisel and apply another layer. Continue this process and with the final layer you will want it to be proud of the surrounding surface. Wait long enough for the Bondo to set and shave it down with a wood plane or scraper until it is about a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch above the surface and let it fully cure. After full cure, sand the Bondo flush. If you rush the process, the Bondo will shrink after finish sanding and pull away from the edges. If the Bondo is still warm, it has not reached full cure yet. As a final step before priming, you may want to use a light weight spackling compound to fill any hairline cracks and tiny air bubbles or "pinholes" in the Bondo.
As I proof read now... yikes. I hope I did not overwhelm you.. The process is faster than it seems.
Good luck.
Grim
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<snip>

Hi Grim.. Thanks for the lengthy response.
I don't want to do a half fast job, but at the same time what you wrote seems like it may be a tad on the overkill side of things... This is what I have done so far, let me know what you think: I capped the wires in the boxes, then picked up a bunch of octagonal box metal covers and screwed them in place over the boxes. I'll kill the circuit by cutting the wire between the light switches and the junction box that supplies the circuit power (thats the only wire I can really get to without tearing down the walls). Let me try an ascii diagram:
Light circuit#1------Switch#1--\ Light circuit#2------Switch#2--+---X[ ]X Box----Breakers Light circuit#3------Switch#3--/ | Outlets (not touching)-------------------------|
--- represents the wire X represents a cut [ ] represents where the wire was
There isnt much more that I can do than that because the wires are not accessible, and that will certainly make the circuit quite dead. The junction box supplies power to the outlets that will remain in place. Additionally I can maybe put some instructions in the old switch fixture (which I am leaving in place for now since it is in another room which I'm not redoing) as to what was done. Regardless, without the connection between the switches and the suppling box, none of the old light fixture boxes will be energizable.
As for making space, I tried everything I could think of to actually remove the old boxes. They are attacthed to the vertical stud as well as to a horizontal one installed behind them by a combination of twisted nails, ribbed nails and a variety of screws to match. Without making the holes drastically bigger to accommodate a "bigger hammer" to bend them they're pretty much there for good. Given that I now have the surface of the junction boxes which are about 1/16 to 1/8" below the bottom of the wood paneling. Should I still use the bondo for that, or polyfilla, or what do you recommend?
Thanks very much for the input
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As long as the circuit cannot be eaisly energized, you are all set. Shut off the power, Open the junction box feeding the circuit and remove the wires feeding the circuits from thier splices and then remove or cut and push them from the box. You may have been vauge with "cutting the wires from the junction box" but physicaly cutting them and leaving them hanging at that point is not good, but that may not be what you meant. As for the old switch, if there is another switch in that same box, you can get a special plate from an electrical supply store that has a blank for the switch you are removing and a cut out for the switch remaining. If there are no other switches in the box, just cut the wires back as far as you can and cover it with a blank cover plate.

That's the worst case.. Nothing is ever easy, is it?
The only thing I can think of at this point - If you poke around home improvement stores or hardware stores, you should be able to find special drywall patches. They appear to be the same material on the front as normal perforated fiberglass joint tape, but this tape is stuck to thin steel with a self adhesive backing. They come in different sizes based on the hole you have to cover. If the paneling has finish, I would sand it off over a large area around the whole. Remove all the sanding dust and peel and stick the patch. In order to feather out the patch over the surrounding area, you may get it done with regular joint compound. If it appears the compound does not stick or fractures real easy with impact or pressure, then Bondo may be the way to go instead of the joint compound, just use it like joint compound, and it will stick to anything. Just keep in mind how much you will have to feather out the patch to get it to disappear when you are sanding the paneling for the purpose of adhesion.
Before you do anything, wait and see if anyone else has other ideas at this point and run with the one that seems best.
Glad to have helped.
Grim
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<snip>

Its about an 8 foot length that I'll remove that connects the switch box to the live junction box. I think I will leave the switches there in the meantime (disconnected) with some notes or a memo in the box since a blank plate to cover 3 switches IMO looks worse than 3 obselete switches ;)
Thanks again, Dan
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If you really didn't want to do a half-assed job, you'd eliminate the live feed at the curcuit box, open up that circuit for something you'd actually use somewhere else, and eat the cost of having to replace a few silly sheets of drywall.
Nothig personal intended; just the simple opinion of a guy who ends up buying houses from guys with "how about if I? ..." ideas like this.
AJS
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Just to highlight your point: This is illegal anywhere in the USA. You can't bury a box with connections in it.
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wrote:

Very good point.
All of my experience and training in electrical work was done in Massachusetts. We have some of the strictest electrical codes in the country, and therefore as part of my education, we were never taught how to do things the "easy" way or even discussed what was acceptable in other parts of the country.. It was almost funny how in the trade on a co-op program where I would be out in the field for a company, I would be doing something the way I was taught in school, only to have the foreman bark at me about wasting time..E.G - "Why don't you put down the hacksaw and grab the roto-split for that BX" ..lol
Grim
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What kind of training did you have that you didn't learn that Massachusetts uses the NEC just like the rest of the country that follows NEC.
Even the City of Boston uses NEC. You want strict codes? Try NYC. Mass. is a cake walk.
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Yes, Massachusetts uses the NEC like the rest of the country, only it is referenced if there are no specifications to your work in the Massachusetts Electrical Code, which has many additions and tighter standards to the NEC. New York is the same way, and yet other states feel the NEC is good enough and did not adopt higher standards.
When I said "Electric Code in many places forbid so on and so on", I was taking into consideration that "DS" may live in Canada, or even overseas. While they most likely have code regarding the burying of boxes , I do not know this to be fact, and therefore did not state it as such. I should have originally stated "countries" and not "places", just to clarify.
Grim
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The Mass Electrical Code has 20 pages of modifications of the NEC:
http://www.state.ma.us/dfs/osfm/fireprevention/cmr/527012.pdf
NYC no longer has their own code - they now also use an amended NEC:
http://www.nfpa.org/PressRoom/NewsReleases/NYC/NYC.asp
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I read up to page 8. Every addition, deletion or fine print added, at least up to page 8, is LESS strict than the NEC.

And the ammended NEC "beefs" it up, it doesn't diminish it like the first 8 pages of Mass's does.
I've been through Mass. many times. Noweher else can you see service drops laced around houses like shoelaces, feeding meters with no protection, and then the line side often continues, unprotected, in SEU not SER, well beyong 3 meters, all around the house to wherever the panel happens to be.
Sinful...

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On 30 Dec 2003, Grim wrote:

<memory grin> An ass-kicking tool, if ever there was one. If you crack open BX with *any* regularity, it's worth the investment.
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Shit - it's worth the investment even if you only saved yourself from 1 hacksawed-open-top-of-thumb-knuckle!
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Ugh... I put the hacksaw right over my thumbnail, smack dab in the middle of the nail. Right down the skin underneath..It was a painful recovery as the nail grew out.I shudder to think of the same on my knuckle.
I would rather slice my self with a utility knife any day of the week, At least it's a clean, sharp cut.
Grim
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Let me guess. You're the guy who owned my house before we inherited it from my sister in law who was stupid enough not to spring the $200 for an inspector.
It's ideas like this that ends up with guys like me ripping down paneling and drywall 15 years later to find that you've duct-taped over 4 live outlets and buried them under drywall, paneling, and insulation.
AJS
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AJS: as Grim said, I came here to ask questions and learn; I could have just gone on the advice of the jokers at the local home depot *shudders at thought* or even worse, just done what I felt was right. Obviously the circuit has to be disconnected, but I did not know the extent to which I had to go to ensure that the circuit could not be energized: I do now. I'm still going to leave the outlets buried in the paneling because I tried to remove one panel and nearly broke it in the process (and would have to remove 8 others to finish the job perfectly).. the stuff simply cannot be removed and reinstalled in good condition. At this point I cannot afford, nor do I have the time to drywall the room. I am however going to document it in the switch fixture, as well as leave notes above the drop ceiling where the old boxes were. Also I will disconnect the line between the switch fixture and the junction box that supplies it power ; to re-energize the circuit, someone would need 8 feet of cable; not something that would happen accidentally. Additionally, in order to connect the 8 feet of cable to the switches they would come across the instructions I left in the switch box. As such, all the wiring left in the walls will be quite dead and not easily activated. Finally, the boxes left will be covered with blank cover plates.
This is a far cry from leaving them live and covered with duct tape! :)

Thanks once again for all the useful input Grim, and for the defence; much appreciated :)

All the same his opinion is valid and taken into consideration; I can see where his frustration is coming from.
-Dan
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Glad to be of a help.
As for AJ's opinion, He is rightfully entitled to it, though his seem more suitable for debate groups or topics where there is no set outcome, E.G - politics, sports, or news:alt.paranoia . I simply find those opinions in this group more respectable when typed with fingers and not someone's ass. 8-)
Grim
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wrote:

What is the problem with the outlets? Were dozens of them installed for some hobby equipment or something? It's usually not a drawback to have extra outlets (if you're done with them, please send 2 for my kitchen and 1 for a bedroom). It seems to me it would be easier to integrate them into the new paneling scheme.
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Installed?
LOL
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