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I have unused live electrical wires coming out of wall in kitchen where new cabinets are going. How should I handle this?

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    Are the wires in a box or are they literally hanging out of a hole in the wall? How many wires and color?
    – JPhi1618
    Feb 18 '16 at 20:51
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Assuming you don't want to/can't remove them completely, (i.e.- back to an existing junction box, or all the way back to the breaker box), you need to properly terminate them (capped with wire nuts) in an accessible junction box.

In other words- install a junction box in, put wire nuts on the wires, install your cabinets, with a hole where the junction box is, and put a cover plate on.

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The best way to handle this is to find out where the wires are coming from and terminate them at that box. In most cases this is just undoing a couple of nuts and taking the wire out. If you need to open up a small section of drywall to get the wire out, better to just do it now. Adding a junction box is a lot of work for a half ass job and potential issues and unneeded troubleshooting in the future.

If they are coming directly from your panel I suggest that you disconnect the wires from your panel (label them there - there being outside of the physical panel but in same location) and put the wires sticking out of your wall in an accessible place in your house where you might have future electrical needs (attic or basement). Of course if you do not know how to disconnect from the panel, that is a different question on here.

Note: Another option is moving this to right above cabinet height to allow for the ability to plug in lighting with a basic receptacle - if you don't want to remove the wire. This is $5 and 10 mins.

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  • I'm not exactly sure what "potential issues" a properly terminated wire in an accessible junction box might cause, nor why it is a "half ass" job. In my house, if I had a line run from my upstairs sub-panel to my kitchen, removal of the wire would necessitate a lot more than removing a "small section" of drywall- in fact it would likely involve removing a strip of drywall in 5 separate rooms, not to mention the drywall work required to re-locate the wire somewhere it might be useful in the future.
    – MarkD
    Feb 18 '16 at 21:33
  • @MarkD - I mentioned he could terminate at nearest box too. Junctions should be a last resort. You don't want junctions all over your house. It makes troubleshooting electrical issues harder because it allows more options. Just the fact of "having" a junction box in a finished space is something I would never think about because it looks bad. Also the potential of the non-electrical inclined hurting themselves with these wires. If this is in a kitchen I doubt that there isn't a box within 5 feet.
    – DMoore
    Feb 18 '16 at 22:40
  • @DMoore- fair enough. Though in this case, being behind where cabinets are to be installed, I don't think the eyesore bit is an issue, as the cover plate would be inside a cabinet (of course this statement is null and void if he is putting in glass front cabinets, but then he has the issue of keeping his dishes stacked nicely which I can not help ;) )
    – MarkD
    Feb 18 '16 at 22:45
  • Really, I don't see any problem with a junction box there. Backs of cabinets are a great place to hide access points, for instance the back side of a tub/shower mixing valve. Put a false panel in the back of the cabinet if it bothers you that much, as long as it can easily be lifted out, should be code legal. Feb 18 '16 at 23:06
  • @WolfHarper - I think adding another outlet right above the cabinet is a no brainer if you are going to do the junction. At least you could keep going from there. You are never going to remove the cabinet to add another outlet.
    – DMoore
    Feb 19 '16 at 1:25

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