In the bathroom in my new house there is a blank wallplate. When I remove the wallplate, I see the wires in the following photo. When I asked the builder's electrician, he said that this was a Jacuzzi splice. Since I didn't get a jacuzzi/jetted tub, this is just extra wiring that has no purpose and was put in because wiring was done before I made selections.

I was hoping I could put in an extra outlet here, but was told I could do nothing with it. Is that accurate? If this is wired into a circuit/breaker it would be great to make use of electricity in this location.

Can you confirm whether or not I can use this extra wiring for any useful purpose, or indeed, as the electrician said - its only purpose would have been to control the water jets and it can't be used for anything else. Let me know if there is something I can easily check if it's not clear from just looking at the photo.

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You should be able to put in a normal receptacle or other device there. Assuming this is inside a bathroom, it will need to either include a GFCI here or earlier in the circuit (e.g., GFCI breaker). Since the black and white are in pairs, something else is powered after this on the same circuit, so best practice is to add pigtails to the existing black & white bundles to connect to the new receptacle. However, it could get a little more complicated if the current setup is: Regular breaker -> this box -> GFCI receptacle, because then. If you can identify everything else on the circuit (type of breaker, other receptacles, lights, etc.) that would help clarify the situation more.

To determine 100% for sure, you need to trace out the two yellow cables to see where they go. What I would do is:

  • Turn off the breaker. Make sure (non-contact tester) that power is out in this box.
  • Disconnect the black and white pairs. Cap them with wire nuts for safety.
  • Turn the breaker back on.
  • Use a non-contact tester to determine which cable is incoming power.
  • See if there is anything else in any of the bathrooms (or elsewhere!) no longer working. If so, the other cable goes "there". Verify by turning power off, putting everything back together again and turning on and checking that everything else works again.
  • If nothing else goes "off" when the circuit is on but the wires in this box are disconnected then you have to hunt around to see if there is another blank plate somewhere that is hiding the other end of the cable.
  • 1
    All of the bathrooms except the basement are on the same circuit breaker and the downstairs bathroom has GFCI - if I test the GFCI it will deactivate the receptacles, I imagine that this would be on the same circuit (I was surprised about this setup, but seems to be code, right?). So if this is after that receptacle in the other bathroom with GFCI shouldn't be a problem to add in the receptacle? Is there any other reason a receptacle couldn't go here or was the guy just trying to get out of work that was missed? – HelpEric Sep 9 at 1:48
  • If it is in the same circuit as a GFCI receptacle and testing GFCI kills power here then you are basically all set. Ideally, each bathroom in a new house should have its own receptacle circuit, though I think shared between bathrooms is OK as long as not shared with anything else. Builders are known to be lazy/cheap - installing the junction box in all houses if 1/2 want the Jacuzzi can make sense - but then actually installing a receptacle instead would cost them an extra $5... – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Sep 9 at 1:51
  • There were a few other places inside cabinets, etc where they forgot and then claimed it wasn't standard. When I checked through code it seemed to ok to put all bathroom outlets on one as long as there were no lights --> NEC 210.11(C)(3) Bathroom Branch Circuits... at least this is how i interpreted it. Would like to know if this is actually not okay. – HelpEric Sep 9 at 1:56
  • Was one of the wires something that would go to the jacuzzi but the others are just normal wires? e.g., a jacuzzi switch would get power here and then the other wires control the amount of electricity to the actual jets? – HelpEric Sep 9 at 1:58
  • @HelpEric Hard to say for sure. But I suspect that is not the case, because if so both sets of wires would be capped instead of being tied together. I'll add more to the answer. – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Sep 9 at 2:02

Nope, because it's a receptacle in a bathroom

Any receptacle you add in any bathroom must be on a circuit that follows one of these rules.

  • The circuit serves ONLY bathroom receptacles, and nothing else - no receptacles outside bathrooms, no fixed loads of any kind. These bathroom receptacles can be in any number of bathrooms.

  • The circuit serves ONLY loads in this bathroom - other receptacles here, light, fan, heat lamp, etc. But every load this circuit serves must be in this bathroom.

If the circumstances of this circuit qualify it for either one, then you can use it. Otherwise, the advice you received is correct.

  • Hmm... my bathroom outlet GFCI circuit services both bathrooms, the deck, and the garage. A major PITA, but seems to fly in the face of our declaration. (not that builder's electrician followed code closely ;-{ built in the 70's – DaveM Sep 9 at 5:05
  • 1
    @DaveM because that's an old installation that is grandfathered. Work that was Code legal at the time it was done need not be removed today. However, OP's receptacle add is new work. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 9 at 15:45
  • I think number 1 applies in this case, but will follow @manassehkatz advice to test if its on the outlet socket or the lights or something else – HelpEric Sep 10 at 0:42

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