I have a dryer connection on a 10-3 wire that I want to remove. What should be done with the wire?

Context: A kitchen cabinet with a single shelf was converted into a space for a washer and dryer. We use a hookup out in the garage instead and would like to make better use of the space, so I'll be converting it into a pantry with additional shelves and drawers. Seems like a good idea not to leave the dryer outlet in the back of the pantry. So I've removed the outlet and capped each wire with a wire nut. I'll cover the 2-gang box with a plastic plate and then cover all of the holes in the back of the cabinet (outlet and dryer vent) I'll also be putting a piece of painted 1/8 inch masonite. I was also thinking of removing the twin 30A breakers with a single switch from the breaker box. But removing the wire from the rest of the wall and attic would be trickier and more work. Is what I have planned sufficient? Again, I'm planning to use wire nuts, box plate and masonite cover.

Box from inside showing 10-3 wire with nuts, haven't put plate on box yet.

Plate I'm planning to cover the box with.

What things will look like after covered with masonite.

Outside view of box.

1 Answer 1


TL;DR Recommend flipping the box around for possible future use on the other side of the wall, plus disconnect in the panel

There are a few different issues:

  • Boxes must be accessible

If you want to keep the box in place, with possibly active wires, then the box must remain accessible without tools (except a screwdriver to remove a standard cover plate, of course). Which means either use that plain cover plate, but don't cover it with a cabinet, or remove the wires from the panel so that they are not active, or replace or move the box.

You have an interesting situation. Because the back of the box is fully accessible, you could easily flip the box around, or even better, replace it with a nice metal box, and keep that circuit available in the room on the other side of the kitchen. If you do that then you can cover up (e.g., drywall or a cabinet back or whatever) the existing box location instead of having to keep it accessible.

  • Don't leave wires connected unless you plan to use them

If you don't decide to flip the box (in order to use the circuit for something else), I would at a minimum disconnect the wires from the panel - i.e., remove the hot wires from the breaker and the neutral wire from the neutral bar. That prevents a "what does this breaker do" problem from zapping someone later on. You could leave the breaker in place (but turned off) and it would be obvious to anyone later (yourself or a future owner) that you can reuse that breaker for a new circuit (if you need a 30A circuit, e.g., for EV charging) or replace it with a smaller or larger breaker (or two separate 15A or 20A breakers) as needed.

If you leave the disconnected cable in the panel, put a label on it indicating where the other end of the cable goes. That way a future owner will know what is going on. If, on the other hand, you decide to remove the visible part of the cable at the kitchen end then I would remove it from the panel as well, as having a cable that can't really be used doesn't do much good and will just lead to confusion.

  • Thank you. I actually have it open on the exterior wall. The idea was exactly that, to turn the box around so that I could install a heat pump without having to run a new wire. But it doesn't look like the wire gauge is sufficient: dryer connection has a 10 and the heat pump I'm looking at requires a 8 or 6!
    – Conner M.
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 18:26
  • 1
    That sounds like a pretty big heat pump. Which may be legitimate. Or it may be that it is relatively inefficient and/or includes backup resistance heat which most people don't need with high efficiency heat pumps. To answer that question: (a) what heat pump are you currently considering (model #, power requirements); (b) how many tons A/C (which gives a good idea of total size), (c) what area are you in (city or state - should give a good idea of weather conditions, which determines how cold it can get which determines the need for emergency heat). Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 18:31
  • The electrical requirements for the model I'm looking at are describe on page 34 of in this document: mrcool.com/wp-content/dox_repo/mc-diy-4-es-im-um-en-01.pdf. As far as climate, I'm coastal Texas with temps in the summer often in the triple digits. accuweather.com/en/us/corpus-christi/78401/august-weather/…. The reason I have the exterior walls open actually is to insulate. I think the current set up I have is by far more inefficient that anything I could replace it with. Plus, the model linked above is ductless, which is better with the humid climate.
    – Conner M.
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 20:09
  • OMG. The manual talks 115/230 when it should be 120/240. And it refers to NULL instead of NEUTRAL. That being said, key issue is: What size? 9K, 12K, 18K, 24K, 36K? Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 20:20
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    Then according to the manual (which has some issues...), you need a minimum of 28A/8 AWG and a maximum of 35A/6 AWG. Bumping by the usual amount (80% derate), that translates to 35A breaker to 44A breaker, and at 60 C rating (which is what you get with cables) 8 AWG is good for 40A and 6 AWG for 55A. So the end result is either 8 AWG cable with 35A or 40A breaker or 6 AWG cable with 45A or 50A breaker. And definitely (as you already knew) not 10 AWG cable. Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 22:06

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