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What is code or proper way to remove a plug receptacle from a wall?

If the plug has 2 black wires and 2 white wires, can the respective wires be connected together with wire nuts and tape then pushed into the wall?

The box is going to be removed and a piece of drywall installed in the hole.

Is this OK?

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    Are you sure you’re allowed to remove the receptacle? Code requires one every so many feet, so you may not be allowed to remove the receptacle if the wall is still going to be there.
    – nobody
    Oct 19, 2023 at 1:28
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    @nobody "Code requires" — surely that is country-dependent?
    – gerrit
    Oct 19, 2023 at 11:30
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    In what country / location do want to do this work? Depending on the country, they may exist rules preventing you from doing what you want.
    – gerrit
    Oct 19, 2023 at 11:33
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    Very valid point (made on all the answers, too) @gerrit. However, "black" and "white" wires, plus "wire nuts" and "drywall" give a strong indication that the OP is in the US.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 19, 2023 at 12:38
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    As someone who got injured from a live box hidden behind drywall during a bathroom demo, I implore you not to do this. The codes are there for a very good reason. Oct 20, 2023 at 13:13

4 Answers 4

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No, you need to retain the box

First, wire splicing needs to happen inside a box, as per NEC 300.15 if you are in the USA. Second, you need to provide access to what's going on inside the box once the receptacle's gone, as per NEC 314.29. This is done using a blank cover plate over the box.

Also, if you're doing a proper wirenut job (cranked down gorilla-tight), you won't need tape to supplement it.

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    To be clear as the work involved, if the OP really wants the box gone, would the minimum work way of doing it be to track the cables to the next box on each side of this one, and run a new, unspliced cable between them? Oct 19, 2023 at 14:58
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    Yes, @user1937198, that would be correct.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 19, 2023 at 15:04
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    We're partway through a remodel in the Seattle area, of a section of our house built in 1978. Two walls had wall plugs on every other joist -- we were joking that the previous owner must have had a grow op. (They didn't, definitely not the type. 😄) Our contractor and electrician were both laughing about that, and have removed boxes and redone exactly as @user1937198 mentions -- taking out the excess boxes, and replacing in between with new unspliced wire. They've also added the orange fire-retardant foam to the wire through-holes in the joists, which I guess wasn't part of code in the 70s. Oct 20, 2023 at 19:17
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi Why remove them? I've never heard of having too many outlets being an issue. Oct 21, 2023 at 15:41
  • @LorenPechtel — The 1978 job was a bit dodgy, with bad splices and other oddities, raising the risk of fire or other failure. We had to open the walls anyway to deal with disintegrating foam insulation, so we went ahead and redid the wiring while we had everything open. We don’t have a need for so many plugs, and part of that wall will be a wet room in future, so we removed some of the receptacles. Oct 22, 2023 at 5:07
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In addition to ThreePhaseEel's excellent answer about boxes and splices, there may be an additional problem: Required receptacles.

There are many required receptacles, including (but probably not limited to):

  • One every 12' on most walls in finished spaces. It gets a little tricky around doors and there are various exceptions.
  • One every 4' around kitchen counters. It gets a little tricky around built-in appliances, islands, peninsulas, etc. and there are various exceptions.
  • Two required kitchen circuits. So if you remove the last receptacle of one of the circuits you have a problem.
  • Required bathroom circuit. Can be shared with other bathrooms, but the receptacle has to be there, and within certain parameters - near the sink, but not too close to the tub/shower, etc.
  • Required laundry room circuit.

If all those (and any similar) requirements are not a problem then you can remove the receptacle. However, there are three reasons why you might be removing the receptacle:

  • Aesthetics - paint or wallpaper or whatever the blank plate to match the rest of the wall and you'll hardly notice it.
  • Non-permanent stuff - e.g., movable furniture. No problem.
  • Permanent stuff - e.g., kitchen cabinets, built-in bookcases, etc.

This last situation is a real problem. You can't block a live junction box with permanent fixtures whether it has a receptacle, a switch or just a blank plate. So if that is the situation then you may have to reroute wires/cables, which may be very simple or may be very complicated, depending on the specifics.

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    I imagine those rules are not universal. Could you specify to what locale they apply? From the units, I am guessing USA?
    – gerrit
    Oct 19, 2023 at 11:30
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    @gerrit us. Based on terminology and wire colors, op is in us Oct 19, 2023 at 12:23
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    @FreeMan NEC 210.52(A)(1) requires a receptacle within 6' of a point along a wall, meaning they can be 6' from a door and then every 12' so that the point is always within 6'. Oct 19, 2023 at 13:13
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    Ah! That makes sense, thanks @RobertChapin. Of course, it doesn't hurt if you've got one every 6' - nobody ever said, "There are too many outlets in this room!". ;)
    – FreeMan
    Oct 19, 2023 at 13:50
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    @FreeMan, while househunting years ago in a lower priced neighborhood, I ask myself that question several times. The third time I came to the conclusion that these houses were being used for grow operations...
    – gns100
    Oct 19, 2023 at 14:52
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One more important thing that hasn't been mentioned

If the plug has 2 black wires and 2 white wires, can the respective wires be connected together with wire nuts and tape then pushed into the wall?

Most likely yes, but if the outlet is split (ie. the metal tab is broken), then you must not connect the wires, and must instead terminate them individually. Split outlets are common on outlets controlled by a light switch, but are possible in other cases as well.

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The only way to do this "properly" is to find the next and previous sockets, and replace the two lengths of wire with a single un-broken run.

This may be as simple as using the existing wire as a draw-cord to pull in the new wire while you pull out the old. However, if anyone's use clamps or cable ties or there's some holes through framing then this might be a challenge.

There may be dry-wall cutting/repair required to find and fix the cable end to end.

Only then can you dry-wall and plaster over the original box location.

Honestly? It is less work to leave the receptacle where it is where possible.

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