First of all, if this is a duplicate question please point me in the right direction as I couldn't find one with my specific situation.

I am relocating a bathroom shower to the opposite side of the room. There is a single receptacle on one of the walls that will be the new shower location. I want to remove this. From another question, I would just need to cap off the wires and put a blank coverplate over the box . However, I can't do that as it would be in the shower.

How can I properly remove this receptacle? Can I flip the current receptacle so it is on the opposite side of the wall that it is currently on? There is a bedroom on the other side of the current receptacle's wall.

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

To properly remove a receptacle that you don't want a box cover on, you would need to remove the wire. Since you're renovating that area in to a shower, you are probably removing the drywall, so removing the wiring should be simple.

Flipping the box around so the outlet is in the adjoining room is also a good idea.

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    I would second the suggestion to just flip the outlet box around and put it in the bedroom. Rarely has anyone said "I wish I had fewer outlets". – Milwrdfan Dec 7 at 16:11
  • Unless, of course, the other side of that wall is outside. Still doable, but presents a different set of challenges. – FreeMan Dec 7 at 17:57
  • Also unless is awkwardly adjacent to another outlet. Like on the other side of the same stud. – Brad Dec 7 at 23:29
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    Do note that it is unwise, if not actually a code violation, to have an outlet near a tub/shower fixture, even if it is on the other side of the wall. A leak that sprays water (or simply leakage through the fixture opening) is not unheard of. – Hot Licks Dec 8 at 1:35
  • @HotLicks -- you'll have to provide a code citation to convince me. And "not unheard of" is also a non-convincing argument. To actually spray water into a wall cavity that would impact a j-box on the other side would require a very obvious hole in the wall. – Aloysius Defenestrate Dec 8 at 16:53

As with so many other things, it depends:

Receptacle at the end of the circuit

If this receptacle is the last device in the circuit - i.e., one cable comes in to power the receptacle but no other cables are in the box, then you can:

  • Disconnect the cable from the receptacle.
  • Disconnect the cable from the source (which may be elsewhere in the bathroom or could be in another room or could be all the way back at the panel if this receptacle was the only device on the circuit). You MUST get that cable OUT of the other box or panel so that it won't get somehow reused with the other end hanging in the wall. Ideally, you would remove the cable altogether, but if it is stapled to the wall frame somewhere then that will not be practical. Just make sure it is out of the box.
  • Remove the receptacle and box and patch the wall.

Receptacle in the middle of the circuit

If this receptacle is in the middle of the circuit - i.e., there are two cables coming into the box, one to power the receptacle and another going on to someplace else (more receptacles, lighting, etc.), then you can't remove the box. You have two options:

  • Move the receptacle and box RECOMMENDED

Move the box to the other side of the wall. Note that depending on how the existing box is connected, it may be easier to rip out the old one and put in a new box for the other side.

  • Splice in the wall MAYBE

Splice the hot, neutral and ground wires between the "in" and "out" cables, using an acceptable method. Note however that ordinary wire nuts are absolutely not acceptable inside an inaccessible portion of the wall. You can read more about it in this question. It is not clear to me whether this is legally an option in this specific situation where you are not repairing a cable (e.g., as might happen if someone managed to drill or nail through the wall into an existing cable which would then need to be repaired without putting in a box) but rather making some changes where, as you already stated, the other side of the wall is accessible.

GFCI

As should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway, even if your old receptacle was not GFCI protected, any new bathroom receptacles absolutely should be. This is both a code requirement and common sense. It is quite possible that the old receptacle was on a GFCI breaker and the new receptacle "from nearby wiring" is not, in which case you would need to add a GFCI receptacle combination device or change the breaker. The opposite is also possible - the existing receptacle might be a GFCI combo but the new receptacle might be on a GFCI breaker - bottom line is that the new receptacle should have exactly one GFCI protection in place. More than one doesn't make you safer but does make it harder to troubleshoot problems.

Dedicated circuit?

There are code requirements related to having a dedicated, or shared with only certain other things, receptacle circuit in each bathroom. I don't know how that relates to renovation vs. new work or what the requirements are exactly. One of the pros will chime in, I'm sure, if that is relevant to your situation.

All splices must remain accessible, with one exception

The exception is a specific Tyco brand splice made and listed to splice Romex cable in a buried in-wall situation. That is only needed if power goes through this receptacle location to other loads.

If it's an endpoint, i.e. Only one cable comes into the box, simply follow that cable back to where it came from, go into that box also, and remove the cable entirely from the wall. Gone!

You could do the same if it's "in the middle" - remove the cable in both directions: back to the supply and onward and either a) replace it with a straight cable, or b) run a new home-run back to the panel from any of the outlets now cut off.

Bathroom receptacles must be on a dedicated circuit

Your old receptacle may have been grandfathered, but your new one will not be. This bathroom receptacle must be on a dedicated circuit either:

  • that supplies only other bathroom receptacles, in any bathroom in the house.
  • that supplies only other electrical loads in this bathroom, e.g. Fan, lighting etc. But this is a bad option, because when you trip the breaker, you're now in the pitch black holding a rather hot curling iron, and nowhere to set it but a sink full of water. Receptacle overloads shouldn't trip lights. Put them on different circuits.

GFCI is required, and, bathrooms need more power

Your bathroom receptacles must be GFCI. Do not go straight for a GFCI+receptacle without thinking this through.

Code is happy with all bathrooms sharing one 20A outlet, but clearly, Code has never shared a house with a stylish person! Because inevitably, someone plugs in both a heater and a hair dryer while the curler warms up, and any circuit can only accommodate one of those. People shouldn't be constrained. Your house has 24kw++ of service, it ought to be able to handle three 1.5kw loads. Sheesh.

So I strongly recommend 2 or more circuits per bathroom. You can do that on one receptacle with a Multi-Wire Branch Circuit: split the receptacle hots, use /3 cable and a 2-pole GFCI breaker ($90 and 2 full spaces in the panel). However the cheaper way is to use multiple full receptacles, and fit GFCI+receptacles ($17), each with a homerun back to the panel: either with a /3 MWBC on any 2-pole breaker, or separate /2 cables. Consider more than two circuits. There is no penalty for too many.

  • Isn't the best option to have the circuit dedicated to only the receptacles in that bathroom and have a different circuit for the fans/lights? Or is there some reason to chain receptacles in different bathrooms? – DRF Dec 7 at 22:58
  • @DRF I would say so, if you have the panel spaces. Though bathroom lights and fan can be on circuits with other rooms' loads. – Harper Dec 8 at 6:10

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