When installing built-in furniture, what should I do about the receptacles on the existing bare wall that will be covered up by the built-in? How would I handle a receptacle covered by a bookcase section? How would I handle a receptacle which will be covered by a cabinet section? Is there a proper way to just cover them with the install? If I want to keep them, what's a good way to do that since the back of the install may not sit flush against the wall?

For my purpose, the location is dry. But for future reference, how would I handle an installation which may be wet, like a bar?

  • "it could easily lead to a fire or electrocution hazard." How exactly do you figure? You can put an outlet in a bookcase the same as a wall. It's no more or less of a fire hazard if properly installed. – logicmuch Nov 2 '18 at 20:55

Since all electrical junctions must be accessible, you have a few options.

  1. Completely remove this section of the circuit.

    • To do this you will have to remove the wire feeding the receptacle, which means you will have to locate the source of the wires. The cable may come from another receptacle, or directly from the service panel. Either way you'll have to remove the receptacle, and all the wire feeding the box (I think you can leave the empty box in the wall, but you may want to remove it anyway since you no longer need it).
    • If the receptacle feeds another receptacle, you'll have to rewire the circuit to compensate for the removed section.
  2. Terminate the circuit.

    • Since the junction will still have to be accessible, you'll have to cut a hole in the built-ins to allow access (if they have a back). Once that is done, remove the receptacle, cap the wires with wire nuts and tape, and install a blank cover plate on the receptacle box. If this will be inside a cabinet, check your local codes to make sure this is allowed.
    • In this case if the receptacle feeds another receptacle, you can just connect the wires together (junction), and close it up with a blank cover plate.
  3. Integrate the receptacle into the built-ins

    • This approach is similar to terminating the circuit, and you'll have to cut a hole in the built-ins (if it has a back). Again if the receptacle will be inside a cabinet check local codes to make sure this is allowed.
    • This might not be the best idea in the case of shelving units, since it could easily lead to a fire or electrocution hazard.
  4. As B Mitch points out. Moving the receptacle to the other side of the wall may also be an option.

    • In this case simply cut an access hole on the other side of the wall, flip the box around to the other side, and install the receptacle on the other wall.

If it was me, I would remove the receptacle completely. I'm not so keen on having live wires just hanging out, and receptacles in enclosed spaces (cabinets for example) makes me nervous.

I'm not sure what you mean when comparing dry/wet locations, the issue here is accessibility. The only difference between a wet location versus a dry one, is if you integrate the receptacle into the built-in in a "wet" location (a bar for example) you would have to switch to a GFCI receptacle.

  • What do you recommend for this very common issue in a kitchen? For example, a built-in microwave goes in its own cabinet. Sure, I cut a hole in the cabinet back but the distance to the wall is well over half an inch so a standard box extender isn't enough. – chrisinmtown Jun 23 '16 at 11:51

For shelving, you can use an electrical box extender. For built-in cabinets, I would suggest moving the outlets up to the counter top or somewhere else that's not behind the cabinet. Note that you are not supposed to have any junctions (e.g. 2 wires and a wirecap) hidden in the wall, so if it's an interior wall, you may be able to switch the outlet to the other side of the wall and install a blank faceplate if you don't want an outlet there.

For any wet locations, go with GFCI outlets. For any bedrooms, consider AFCI.

  • Good point on switching the side of the wall the receptacle is on, I hadn't thought of that. – Tester101 Jul 1 '11 at 15:20
  • A receptacle built into the back of a shelving unit could pose a possible electrocution and/or fire hazard. – Tester101 Jul 1 '11 at 15:31
  • @Tester101: many minds eventually come up with the best solution. +1 to your detailed answer (and for beating me to the submit button). – BMitch Jul 1 '11 at 15:31
  • I've seen outlets in lots of built-in shelving units. Not sure if there's any code violation, but it's handy if you want to put an electrical device on the shelves (small stereo, cordless phone, etc). – BMitch Jul 1 '11 at 15:35
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    @B Mitch: Hey I'm not saying don't do it (and I'm not sure if it is against code), I just worry you might try to grab the latest supermarket romance novel and accidentally electrocute yourself (will it happen... probably not. but could it?). Studies have shown that most electrocutions happen by accident. – Tester101 Jul 1 '11 at 15:39

I usually cut a hole in the back of the cabinet, and trim it out.


In the kitchen if the outlet is under the counter it does not count as one of the required outlets for that wall. Outlets have to be accessable. So move it over a few feet don't lose the outlet. T

  • Did you mean to write more? – ThreePhaseEel Sep 6 '17 at 22:13
  • @ThreePhaseEel - What he has wrote doesn't seem to be answering the question anyway. – AndyT Sep 7 '17 at 11:48

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