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Much of the wiring my house is of the DIY variety, done by someone who was plainly insane.

My living room has an electrical box with a switch, which runs to .. another switch on the exterior wall, to turn on/off deck lights.

This is not a runner switch situation where both switches can turn on the deck lights - this is a wire run in series situation, where both switches have to be on for the deck lights to turn on.

I don't want this switch, I think it's idiotic. Additionally, the electrical box for it is very poorly mounted and juts out at an angle.

For now, I have removed the switch and connected the wires with wire nuts. But what I would really like to do is remove the electrical box entirely, and replace that area of drywall (yes, I know I'm being absurdly picky).

Is there any code compliant way for me to permanently connect these wires, and then cover it with drywall? e.g. the connections would not be user accessible, unless they knew it was there and wanted to cut into the drywall. (In the picture below, I want to remove and cover "Switch 1".)

(I am near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA).

enter image description here

Edit: thanks for the help and ideas. I think I am going to cut the drywall open, install a new box correctly (e.g. so it doesn't stick out at a weird angle), fix the drywall and then either install a blank face plate, an outlet, or some other useful thing that fits in a 1 gang electrical box.

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    There is no way to do what you want and be compliant. Connections cannot be behind drywall or hidden and inaccessible. You could remove the switch , connect the wires with a proper cap or wago and put on a blank cover. Then paint to match the wall.
    – RMDman
    Dec 24, 2022 at 14:21
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    Nuts! So if I am really absurdly serious about this, I need to open everything up and run a new wire from the breaker box directly to switch 2? (There's some significant internal remodeling going on, so this might not be such a big deal.)
    – negacao
    Dec 24, 2022 at 14:26
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    if the original wire comes directly from the breaker box, then yes. I grew up in Pittsburgh. Worked on my father's apartments. lots of weird stuff was built back in the 60s and before. Good Luck
    – RMDman
    Dec 24, 2022 at 14:31
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    You could always replace the switches with 3-way switches so that both can be used to toggle the light on and off. Might require pulling a new wire between them, though. Dec 25, 2022 at 21:58
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    <laughs in Chicagoan> You pull the wires and take the box out. If your house is run in extension cords and not EMT, then IDK what to tell you ;)
    – Mazura
    Dec 25, 2022 at 23:33

5 Answers 5

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Just to point out the obvious: it's not at all unreasonable to leave the box where it is, keep the splice inside the box, put a blank face plate on it and paint the face plate to match the wall. You could even hang a painting over it afterwards, if it still annoys you... but most other folks will barely notice it.Photo of my living room passageway, with box high on wall

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    This is what I am doing now - the trouble is that the box is mounted.. very poorly, to the extent that the left edge of it is sticking out > 1/2" from the wall. I suppose last resort I could cut open the drywall, install a new box, fix the drywall and install a plastic plate. I just figure if I'm going to that length, I'd like plain smooth drywall.
    – negacao
    Dec 25, 2022 at 12:09
  • Valid. One of the pros may be able to suggest a fix.
    – keshlam
    Dec 25, 2022 at 16:52
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    @negacao You can remove the poorly mounted box by cutting off the nails which hold it into the stud using an oscillating tool. Then get an old work box to make it flush with the wall.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 27, 2022 at 14:49
  • @MonkeyZeus perfect idea! Thanks!
    – negacao
    Dec 27, 2022 at 16:16
14

You'll need a NM in-wall splice kit

The correct part for this job, as Evil Elf alludes to in their answer, is a made-for-purpose in-wall NM splicer. Sadly, Tyco may have discontinued the kit they made in response to gyrations in the NEC section 334.40(B) text that governs the use of these products. NSi (Tork/Polaris/...), however, wasn't so easily fazed, and still makes such a thing in the form of their NMS-2, but you'll need to go to a supply house to find it.

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    I'm actually wondering - this page seems to indicate such kits are OK for repair, but not extending. I imagine my intended usage qualifies as extending.
    – negacao
    Dec 25, 2022 at 12:29
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    @negacao -- talk to your local AHJ -- the 2023 Code cycle appears to have significantly liberalized the 334.40(B) rules, so you might be able to convince them to accept it even if they haven't formally adopted the new Code yet Dec 25, 2022 at 16:58
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    @negacao break the plastic of the #1 switch panel (with the fuse turned off), take a picture of it being ("dangerously") broken and then repair it.
    – Hobbamok
    Dec 27, 2022 at 15:52
7

If you don't like a blank plate, another option is to install a standard duplex receptacle in the location, with it also feeding the switch & light. Put in a new box if the old box is not installed correctly, but use the existing wires.

Nobody ever complained about having too many receptacles.

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  • That's a fair idea, but it's a switch height so it might look a bit odd, and I'm not sure what I'd plug in there (ignoring the poor angle of the box).
    – negacao
    Dec 25, 2022 at 12:11
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Another good but fairly expensive option is to pull new wire.

First, pull each end of the existing wire and check if the other end moves a little - this tests if its been stapled or strapped or otherwise constrained inside the wall. A helper is useful here.

Since you already have wire in both directions and can access it at both ends, so is a matter of securing the new piece to the old piece and drawing it through. You can overlap them by 30cm and use lots of tape, and try to make the transition smooth to reduce the chance of it hanging up.

IN the end you'll pass through the area where the bad switch was, but since there are no joints, you're clear to patch, plaster, and paint over the hole while remaining compliant.

Good luck !

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    Thank you - the wire is unfortunately stapled rather securely. :/
    – negacao
    Dec 25, 2022 at 12:11
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I believe Tyco makes a splicer UL approved for in wall use. Local codes would determine if you are permitted to use one.

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    can you provide a link to that splicer. It would save me tons of time in some of my rehabs.
    – RMDman
    Dec 24, 2022 at 15:07
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    Do check with your local AHJ before using this -- 334.40(B) permits them as of the 2023 NEC, but that text has varied significantly between recent NEC editions in a way that bears heavily on their applicability Dec 24, 2022 at 16:47
  • @RMDman westwayelectricsupply.com/buy/product/NMS-2/828484 for the NSi one (it seems the Tyco one isn't well stocked anywhere -- the NSi one also has some issues with spotty stocking, but not as bad from what I can tell) Dec 24, 2022 at 16:55

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