I just purchased a house built in the mid-1990s in Kansas, U.S.

The garage is generally finished: It has sheetrock walls and ceiling. It also has outlets spaced every 6 feet or so about 4 feet above the floor. The electrical service panel is in the garage and mounted flush inside the wall.

There are several things I want to accomplish:

  1. I want to have easier access to the electrical box to add additional wiring and breakers. As of now, I'm not sure how can this be done without ripping the wall above/below apart. I'd like to do one of two things.

    1. Cut open an area above the box and place a locked door to provide access to it.

    2. Pull out the electrical box and mount it to the wall instead. That way all the wiring coming into the box are exposed. I'm assuming in a garage this would be code violation but installed in an unfinished basement this wouldn't be?

  2. I want to remove some outlets. I don't see a point in having so many and the fact I like washing my car in the garage, I rather not have to worry about any outlets causing trouble. I know how to remove the outlet itself, but what's the proper procedure for pulling the wiring out of the wall to that outlet?

  3. Next to the electrical box I will have an air compressor. It requires a 20 amp circuit. I was thinking of placing a PVC (gray) outlet box mounted to the wall and run conduit up and over to the electrical box. Slightly above the electrical box I'm assuming I would have to put a junction box. This will take the wire from the conduit on the outside wall and provide an opening to the inside wall to drop the wire into the electrical box.

  • Really old question, but for future readers, remember that building codes require minimum numbers of outlets in every room. Before removing outlets, make sure your local code allows that. Otherwise, you'll be reinstalling them before selling the place...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 11:56

2 Answers 2

  1. Cut open the drywall. You can then use a piece of plywood to cover the hole so that it's easier to remove in the future.

  2. Sounds like too much work. First step, make sure they are GFCI protected. If you don't know if they are GFCI protected, you can get a GFCI outlet tester from the hardware store. And while you're there, get outdoor box covers. Then you can just replace the face plates with the outdoor box covers. Much easier than removing the outlets.

  3. You don't need conduit. Get an "old work" (orange or black) electrical box. Cut a hole below your breaker panel. Run the wire from that hole straight up through a knock-out in the bottom of the breaker box. Then you can push the wire through the top of the "old work" electrical box and mount the box in the wall. See, no conduit needed!

Based on response to my first answer:

  1. Hooray!

  2. Turn off the breaker. Remove the outlets and install wire nuts on all of the wires. Install blank faces plates.

  3. OK, you still don't need conduit. Just drill a hole through the top plate of the wall. You can then run the cable up the inside of the wall, through the hole, and then down to your breaker panel with all of the other wires.

  • I don't have access to the top plate. The attic has a plywood wall restricting access over the garage.
    – mark84kcmo
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 15:35
  • If you don't have easy access to run wire through the wall, then conduit run over the surface of the wall is the next easiest option.
    – longneck
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 15:58

I can't imagine having too many outlets, especially in a garage. My 1970s house was built with only one outlet in the garage; owners over the years had added a web of extension cords and other questionable wiring to make the situation tolerable. When I redid a side wall to add insulation, I put a double outlet every 4 feet and a pair of outlets in the ceiling for garage door openers—which admittedly did seem like serious overkill especially while doing the sheetrock work. I also added a heavy duty 240 volt outlet with 6 AWG near one garage door with the idea of adding a compressor, welder, etc. someday.

Every one of those outlets was well used, far beyond my wildest imaginings. I never had a compressor or welder, but there was a temporary extra electric scuba wear dryer, electric auto, emergency generator feed, high power 24 volt motorcoach charger, and a visiting RV.

The 120 volt outlets were darn handy for power tools, lights, power pack battery chargers, sprinkler system controller, dark room devices, shop vacs, and an extension cord to the neighbor to run their freezer during a long power outage.

Even wanting to hang things on the wall, I would probably leave the outlets and hang things around the outlets. If an outlet is truly in the way and the hung objects will be dripping fluids or projecting metallic spiky things, then maybe put a cover over it (a or b):

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A 20 amp circuit for a compressor is a breeze. Be sure to observe clearance requirements to access the electrical panel. Many compressors have a conventional electric cord and connector, so a 20 amp outlet would be the proper wiring. If it is truly a direct wire device, it may be preferable to convert it to a 20 amp cord arrangement.

As far as answering the question: One rarely removes wires unless they will be immediately replaced and the previous are in the way. Or if you will be penetrating the wall where the wires are, the best way is to remove the sheetrock, do the work, and re-sheetrock. This isn't all that much work, although it does generate a fair amount of debris: an hour to demolish and remove sheetrock, four hours to redo electrical, and 2-6 hours to cut and install sheetrock, 2 hours to tape and mud, and maybe that is good enough for a garage.

  • I will have a shelf with fluids that may drip down the outlet. The cover will prevent me from securing the shelf (72" tall) against the wall. I need it secured so it doesn't ever come crashing down on the car. I do agree that having several outlets is good, but the outlets aren't where I want them to begin with anyway.
    – mark84kcmo
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 15:38

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