I have an elecritcal outlet in my kitchen that I would like to cover
with an end panel. It is too difficult for me to move the outlet, so I
just want to "deactivate" it and cover it, if you will. How can I do
this? Is it as simple as taking the face plate and the plug-in part
off and putting electrical tape on the wire ends? Or is this a major
no-no!!!??? Thanks for any advice, and I appologize for my novice
description of my problem!
You really are not supposed to cover an electrical junction box. If you were
to do this in a way the box could be accessed in the future, it would be OK.
You would have to remove the receptacle and if there were only two wires
+ground, you would cap the wires. If there are four wires on the outlet,
you'd need to splice together and cap the two white wires, and the two
colored wires, usually black, possibly red. If you do find that there is
only two wires in that box, those wires could be disconnected from an
upstream outlet, then you could bury the "dead" box altogether, although in
doing so, you would undoubtedly be creating a violation in not having the
proper number of outlets for the counter space.
Can you access the wires that enter (and possibly leave) the box from
For example, all of the first floor outlets in my 1956 house have their
wires run from the basement, to the box, back to the basment, along the
joists, up to the next outlet and back down again. When I needed to
disable an outlet was going to get blocked, I simply pulled the wires
down into the basement and put in a junction box so the circuit could
Junction boxes are supposed to be "accessible." If no power goes into the
J box, it isn't really a junction box anymore. In the above case, it
wasn't necessary to pull the wires but merely to disconnect them. The code
isn't concerned with abandoned wires.
If you cover up a live junction box it's a matter of judgment as to whether
it's still accessible. Clearly, "covering" it with movable furniture
retains the "accessibility". Likewise, some wall paper over a blank cover
would still be accessible. But if you cover it with a kitchen cabinet and
don't provide an access hole ...
It comes down to how much work is required to regain access to the box and
whether the box can be "found" if you move out and someone else moves in.
In our place the previous owner put a blank cover over a J-box and then
built a wall that partly covered the cover. But IMO it's still as
"accessible" as a ceiling box with a heavy light fixture attached. It
would be a minor PITA but if the need arose, I could get a knife and cut out
the 1" or so of wall board.
In some places there are two electrical inspections: before the dry wall is
installed and after the walls are up and the fixtures, outlets, and switches
are in place. I suspect that my partly covered box would not pass the
second electrical inspection!
Actually, it depends more on what *type* of work is required to gain access.
The NEC has a different opinion, and under the Code, that is not accessible.
What is, or is not, "accessible" is not "a matter of judgement", it's a matter
of Code definition:
"Accessible (as applied to wiring methods). Capable of being removed or
exposed without damaging the building structure or finish or not permanently
closed in by the structure or finish of the building." [2005 NEC, Article 100]
Anything that can't be exposed without cutting out a section of drywall is
clearly not "accessible" as defined by the Code.
Indeed it would not.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Well, when you include the word, "finish" LOTS and LOTS of new construction
would not pass.
It's almost routine to spray paint rooms after the electrical inspection.
The painters just cover the switches and outlets with a little masking tape
(the ceiling fixtures aren't installed and, in fact, new construction
minimizes the number of ceiling fixtures.)
After such a paint job you can't gain access to the J-boxes without damaging
the "finish." Where a CB box is put in "finished" space it routinely is
painted over. Sometimes you can't even open the cover without damaging the
That's sort of what I said.
Were the house to be "re-inspected" I would simply cut away the dry wall
before the inspection. It would be up to the next owner what to do next.
Fortunately, such complete re-inspections don't happen often.
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