We're doing a really small renovation in our house (WA, USA), and as part we're removing a small (and non-loadbearing) wall. This wall contains the last outlet on a branch circuit. What's the proper way to decommission this outlet and its cable?


  • What is best practice at the upstream (now terminal) outlet? After I disconnect the cable to the downstream (now-removed) outlet, can I simply wire nut the ends, and put them back in the box?
  • On the other end of the cable, what is best practice for terminating an "orphaned" wire that no longer terminates in an outlet box? The wall is gone, so the cable is just coming through a hole in the floor where the wall used to be.

These cables and outlets are all "new work", so everything is stapled or nailed to a stud; I cannot pull the now-unused cable out of the wall.

  • While the above referenced duplicates provide helpful information, those questioners start with the assumption that the cable must be removed from the box (i.e. "ok, I removed my cable from both boxes...now what?"). I started with a more basic position; I did not assume that the cable must be removed from both boxes. Because of that, the answers tagged as duplicates to this question did not appear in my search results. Therefore, I believe this question is not duplicative, and is still of value. Commented Feb 7 at 17:52
  • Should add/edit this into the question. It might be re-opened or thought of still being close enough to be a duplicate.
    – crip659
    Commented Feb 7 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


If you have no plans to use the wire (it's being "abandoned") cut off all accessible parts of it, and abandon the inaccessible parts of it.

That is, specifically, don't go leaving the ends in the new "terminal" box in a condition where they even COULD be connected, unless you have the other end relocated to a junction box (could be an empty junction box with a blank cover) for future use. If you've removed the wall and are going to patch the hole in the floor and you're not coming up from under the floor to have access for a junction box, then I'd say you are in "abandon" mode and you literally cut off every part of the abandoned cable you can reach. As it's a new-work box, if the cable is clamped in place from outside, cut it off flush with the inside wall of the box.

That keeps future idiots from having an easy time creating a hazardous condition with the abandoned cable.

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