I have a ceiling junction box in my garage that has four armored cables coming into it. I want to remove one of the cables as I'm not using it. I don't have access to the back side of the box, because the ceiling is finished (metal lath and plaster).

I'm thinking I could remove this a few different ways:

  1. twist the wires together, wire nut, and leave in the box
  2. cut the exposed copper, and electrical tape the ends
  3. cut the wires back to the cable clamps
  • 1
    What did the cable you want to remove serve?
    – JACK
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 20:42

3 Answers 3


NEC officially says abandoned wire/cable should be removed altogether from the box, and the walls, and if that is not practicable, then utterly destroy it where it is reachable.

Fortunately, they don't say that about conduit, because I have loads of conduit routes I'm not using right now, that I prefer to keep in place for future use.

Even though you don't envision a need right now, fact is, you never really know.

So I recommend exactly what JACK is telling you: remove them from the picture non-destructively so you are able to spare yourself the expense of fishing wire if you ever need them in the future.

One of the numerous opinions on the forum you linked recommended pushing it just outside the junction box, but where it could be reached if you wanted it in the future, and then if needed cover any empty holes with a knockout cover. (about 10 cents). I would do either that, or what Jack says - just cap it off and don't worry about it.

The only exception is if retaining the cable exceeds the cubic-inch limit of the box; that must be dealt with either by adding a box extension or pushing the cable out of the box.

  • Thing is...I'm replacing that run with a circuit just for outlets. The existing run is an outlet connected to a light. Because it's an outlet, the cable is right up against the wall. I won't need a light over there. The existing light is about four feet away. The armored cable descending from the ceiling, and the outlet, is also in the way of the conduit I plan to install, so I have to remove the outlet anyway.
    – Mike
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 1:42
  • 1
    @Mike OK if you're really sure, just utterly destroy it as Code requires. If anyone finds it in the future, the destruction will make clear the cable is permanently OOS. (just be careful and don't shut off the good engine - er, I mean destroy the wrong cable.) Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 1:46
  • If I never need to install a light near there I can always cut a hole in the ceiling for a new junction/light and run the cable down the joist bay to the existing junction/light. But this topic bring up another question: Is it possible to pull the individual wires of old armored cable (AC) out of the sheath?
    – Mike
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 1:52
  • @Mike, You might be able to pull a wire out, but it would be almost impossible to run another wire through the spiral-type armored jacket unless it is very short or very straight.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 15:16
  • @JPhi1618 I don't want to run another wire, just pull the old wires out.
    – Mike
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 15:40

You don't want to cut the wire, especially since your garage is finished. You never know when you might need it for something in the future. We are always getting questions on how to run or install wire.The best option is to wire nut each wire separately, don't cut the copper piece, and then wrap with some electrical tape and just leave them in the box.

  • The cable runs to an outlet and I'm running a separate cable for outlets. I won't need it in the future.
    – Mike
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 21:07
  • 4
    ..And label the wires! It may not be obvious to someone in the future where they go. A small label may save hours. IE OP's already had this diy.stackexchange.com/questions/182205/garage-wiring-puzzle
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 6:17

Cap it. Tag it with "Dead" and date of OOS. Leave it in place. While the NEC code says destruction, unless you pull it completely out without an explanation the next owner will wonder what happened.

Just an opinion. I'm not a Master. You could also reach out to your code enforcement office for your township and see what opinion they have.

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