5

A bit of a head scratcher...

Just bought a home, and found that an outlet on the mirror was ungrounded. So I thought I would take a look, and I found a nice surprise after taking the outlet off

as you can see, the hole in the mirror is offset from the drywall, which is offset from the junction box. Also there are no ground wires.

a professional electrician recommended an AFGF outlet, which I bought, but it's bigger than a normal outlet, and will not fit the same way the old outlet (barely) fit. The junction box is big enough, but because it is offset, the outlet won't fit in the exposed opening of the box.

There is a stud on the left, and the junction box is nailed in with a little metal wing sticking out on the top left side of the box

So the way I see it, there are only two options that don't require breaking the mirror

  1. Somehow take out the existing junction box, and install a new one higher. Cut the drywall hole to match the mirror. Somehow attach junction box to the stud
  2. Cut a circle shape out of another mirror and attach it too the top. Then cut the mirror at the bottom to expose the rest of the existing junction box

Best resulting job would be option 3, which is take out the entire mirror wall and install a new one... but that seems not worth it. Also there is access behind it, it is a floor-to-ceiling closet shelving system. So to access the junction box from the back would require cutting a hole in wood shelving, and the drywall behind that

I'm leaning towards removing the nail, dropping the junction box down, cutting the drywall, inserting a new junction box, and somehow attaching it to the stud, maybe with a 90 degree attachment on my power drill w/ a screw? space is very tight though. Looking for any ideas at all

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  • Will not be easy or fun but unless that is a load bearing wall, can try notching the stud so the box can move over some also.
    – crip659
    Dec 27, 2022 at 21:37
  • interesting idea! that would help move it left, but it still needs more vertical space too
    – A O
    Dec 27, 2022 at 21:38
  • Would make the notch to fit the hole in the mirror. A 1/2 or 3/4 inch notch should be okay in a plain wall, quite iffy in a load bearing wall. Place the notch where you want it, up/down to match. A small back saw or a jig saw plus a chisel should work.
    – crip659
    Dec 27, 2022 at 21:44
  • i can definitely pull that off! but there would still be the problem of moving the junction box, because that thing is nailed too low
    – A O
    Dec 27, 2022 at 22:08
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact I tested it and didn't find ground, i think they literally just nailed a metal box onto the wooden stud, unfortunately
    – A O
    Dec 28, 2022 at 0:52

2 Answers 2

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Don't even put a GFCI here

Believe it or not, GFCIs don't just protect their own sockets.

I mean, we'd hope so, since GFCIs are also available as circuit breakers and deadfronts, and they don't even have sockets, so clearly, GFCIs have a way to protect other things wired to them.

Indeed they do, and that is a pair of special terminals called "LOAD" carefully concealed so only pro electricians can find them - oh wait, I am not king, so they put them in plain sight where they confuse the hell out of people.

No, all wires should be attached to the LINE terminals. They take 2 wires; read the instructions for how. Now, if you actively want to use that GFCI to protect other locations downline, then and only then attach those hot and neutral wires on the LOAD terminals.

Got it?

But only do that if you're willing to comply with the labeling requirement in instructions 8(c) and 406.4(D)(2).

Put the GFCI before. Use LOAD to protect this outlet.

Now this removes the challenge of fitting a GFCI in this location.

You will need "GFCI Protected" markings on this and every receptacle now protected.

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  • thanks for your time! that makes a lot of sense to me. i actually had this idea from a previous electrician, because he said if i really wanted to be as safe as possible without ground, that i should also have an Arc Fault protection (AF/GF), and as far as i understood it, AF does not protect down the load, it only protects the single outlet? though i'm not exactly sure what arc fault would protect against, and how it differs from GF
    – A O
    Dec 28, 2022 at 4:04
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    @AO -- arc fault protection can and does protect downline loads Dec 28, 2022 at 4:05
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    @AO Almost everywhere arc fault protection is required, it's required to be at the breaker so it protects both appliances and wiring. That even applied to the original use-case, which was electric blankets in bedrooms. But of course that showed the value of protecting wiring. I'm not aware of any protection technology that works best at the receptacle (though it certainly is more convenient for the person trying to find the reset switch lol). Dec 28, 2022 at 4:14
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Well, I never expected to see a home renovation job where a dremel was the best tool, +1 for proving me wrong. I see no other way to cut the nails that hold the electrical box on the wrong position.

first you want to pack some wood into the box and drill through the wood to prepare screw holes in the box for fixing it in its new location, the wood will make it possible to drill through the sheet metal on an angle.

you want three holes 2 near the front and one near the back, you will need a long bit for the back hole.

cut the upper drywall out of the way. Then you hook a long wire onto the top screw hole, more about this wire later.

Then reach in there an cut through the nails that are holding the box in its position.

push the box sideways off the nail stubs and clean up the top nail stub. you're probably going to want to pull it out, locking pliers can help here, be careful to not hit the mirror.

If the box dissappears inside the wall pull on the long wire.

Wrestle the box into its new position and nail or screw it to the stud. if you're prone to missing with a hammer screw it into position.

If you need to move the box sideways you'll be doing some chiselling, althrough you may be able to move most of the wood with a drill. Make sure your chisels are sharp. and don't miss.

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  • actually this is an amazing idea. I will try this first actually! will report back
    – A O
    Dec 30, 2022 at 20:24
  • this is going to work best if the wires come into the top of the box, if the come in the bottom they may be too short.
    – Jasen
    Dec 30, 2022 at 20:29
  • they do indeed come from the top of the box. i'm going to go to the store and buy a new plastic box, the tricky part will be to swap out the boxes with just that tiny hole to work with
    – A O
    Dec 30, 2022 at 20:32

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