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An outlet was discovered to be midway through a segment of unsafe (too thin gauge for circuit, no ground) wiring. Let's refer to point A as a junction to the rest of the circuit (which is all good to go), point B as this outlet, and point C as an important outlet at the end of this branch. There's nothing else on the branch between A & C.

Because the outlet at point B was hidden by furniture and not used, and there's already ~8 other outlets on this circuit (maybe more), it's been decided that this outlet could simply be removed. To most rapidly get rid of the unsafe wiring between point A & C, new wire was pulled through each end of the gang box and spliced, thus completing the circuit with new wiring. However, this leaves an unnecessary splice in a gang box at point B, and the box itself seems a little unsafe to me (it is a not very secure/stable, old work box).

To reduce electrical risks, it seems to me it's worth it (though not high priority) to re-run a length of wire from point A to C directly with no splice, and in the process remove the old work box. This is not that difficult and since splices and rickety junction boxes are some of the major electrical hazards as I understand it, it's worth upgrading: it will take 10 feet of 12/2 NM, pull part way through from point C to B and then pull the rest of the way through from B to A and get it all hooked up.

When all that is said and done, the rickety gang box will be empty and unneeded. Easy enough to remove if that's best, it's practically falling out of place now. What's the easiest way to plug the hole? Do I need to add drywall + joint compound + paint, or can I just put a gang box cover on the empty box? Guess I'm trying to confirm if it makes sense to rewire the splice out of existence, and if there's any problem putting a cover on an empty box or even somehow putting a cover on an otherwise open but discrete hole in the wall.

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    The question is a bit convoluted and i do not know what you mean by " Splice " and " unnecessary splice " , if the connections are done with proper wire nuts to code then I vote for just put a cover plate on the box and call it time and money saved. – Alaska Man Sep 7 '18 at 20:40
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    An unused receptacle is unused. It doesn’t consume power. It’s not a load factor. It doesn’t matter how many unused outlets exist. – Tyson Sep 8 '18 at 0:20
  • The point is that the receptacle and its box aren't in great quality and are in a difficult spot to fit a gang box in, so since it's unnecesary it'd be better to avoid connections in loose hardware and just run a straight wire from point A to C. – cr0 Sep 9 '18 at 0:24
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Do Not run afoul of rules requiring receptacles at certain spacing along the wall. Generally any point on the wall must be within 6' of a receptacle using sensible routings, because that is how long lamp cords are.

I do not agree with the opinion that splices are a major failure point. Whoever said that isn't very good at splices. Use Ideal brand wire nuts in the middle of their working range, and tighten them gorilla tight. Done.

The rickety old box is worrisome but why is it rickety? Is it attached to only drywall? If it's possible to attach it more firmly to the joist, I am fond of 7/8x#6 deck screws usng Torx or Robertson drive and a little sideways ratchet driver. You can always replace it with another old work box, but a steel box beats a plastic one any day of the week in my book.

  • I agree with the metal boxes they usually have wings or flanges on both sides close to full length compared to cheap plastic that just have 2 small arms. Also with wire nuts 2 full twists of the wires outside the nut is required I call this gorilla tight if done by hand but usually use a driver when doing more than a few. – Ed Beal Sep 8 '18 at 1:25
  • Why do you recommend Ideal brand wire nuts? I have always liked Scotchloks wire nuts, perhaps because they were recommended by expert Jesse Aronstein at one time for pigtailing aluminum and I bought boxes of several sizes. "The 3M Scotchlok connector had shown the best performance in this application compared to other types of twist-on connectors." (No wire nuts are now considered acceptable for pigttailing aluminum inspectapedia.com/aluminum/…). – Jim Stewart Sep 8 '18 at 1:28
  • @Ed Beal what kind of driver do you use to tighten wire nuts? – Jim Stewart Sep 8 '18 at 1:30
  • Would it be acceptable to drill holes in the side of a metal box and drive screws at an angle into the stud? Or would this be a code violation as an improvised, unrated method of attachment? I believe there are plastic boxes that are designed and rated to be screwed on this way. – Jim Stewart Sep 8 '18 at 1:33
  • @JimStewart scotchloks are my nemesis. They are very, very hard to remove, involving lots of fighting, and they tend to really dislike reuse - I believe they are not even listed for reuse as the spirals are often visibly distorted after removal. The modern wisdom I am hearing is that there's been a lot of evolution in wirenut design and new designs are so much better than 20yo designs. Most seem to regard Ideal as king of the hill. I'm sure 3M poured some sort of materials science genius into Scotchloks, that's what they do, but it's lost on me. – Harper Sep 8 '18 at 6:31
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In my opinion it's not worth the effort and cost to re-run the wire. As long as the inline splice is properly connected at B, e.g. using proper wire nuts, it is not considered a major hazard. Even if you "improve" it by a wire directly from A to C, it is likely you have other splices in your other circuit anyway.

In terms of cover plate vs patching drywall, that's totally up to you. If it's behind furniture, why not simply choose the easier way.

  • This makes sense. The box the connection is in is what worries me, as the connections themselves are as good as any other (done properly with appropriate wire nuts and even tape). – cr0 Sep 9 '18 at 0:26
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Since the 6' / 12' receptacle rules are design rules, not safety rules, and violating them doesn't cause a fire or shock anyone, I wouldn't worry about it. It can be corrected in the future if need be.

Since it's an old work box, I wonder if it was even required for the 6' rule in the first place? Maybe if the house is older than the rule.

So I'd run new wire bypassing the middle box and be done with it.

I am not sure I'd care much about an empty box behind the couch being loose. If you get a sturdy unbreakable blank cover, the tension from the cover screws should steady it.

You could enlarge the hole and use a double gang old work box and cover, if the new half of the box opening is tight, it won't wobble.

You could patch the drywall... a lot of work for little return IMO.

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If the wire gauge is too small, you do need to replace it. The only reason I can think of code wise that the box was added would be to have no more than 12 feet between outlets or no point more than 6' from an outlet.

If you decide to remove the outlet, I would leave a service loop of wire in that location when you pull the new cable in. Remove the old work box and patch the wall. You will be able to find the spot in the future if you decide to install another outlet in the future.

You could leave the box and put a cover plate on it, and this would be legal also, but from your description it sounds like a service loop and a patch job would be the way I would go.

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