Electrical Question

This summer I tore out a wall and a yucky old stove hood, which left some outlet wiring and the hood wires exposed. I now need to throw up some drywall to keep the kitchen a bit warmer over the winter. This will be a temporary fix until the spring, when I have a contractor coming to do some major remodeling (including a new wall, outlet, and hood wiring).

In the meantime, can I stuff these wires (which are live) behind the drywall? Should I somehow secure them to the studs so they don’t flop around? I have the caps on the ends of each wire, but am worried about fire if I put them behind my temporary wall. Do I turn off the power and wrap them in electrical tape as well?

Thanks in advance for advice.

I’m not an electrician but - You need to go by what your local or state electrical code says. Generally there are strict rules that you can’t just leave old wires hanging unterminated in space like that, even if you consider it to be temporary. You probably need to remove the wires all the way back to whatever junction box they originated from.

I assume the wire is Romex (a plastic-sheathed multi-conductor cable). If so, I would nail a junction box to a stud, get a Romex cable clamp (strain relief), and feed the ends of your wire into the box, then put the wire nuts on the ends and cover the box. (Turn power off while doing this).

I’m not sure if that’s what Code would say to do, but that’s what I would do.

Sounds like a good idea! Not sure what the cable is, my house is about 100 years old and the posterchild for jury-rigged construction.

Depending on your level of skill and comfort with electrical projects.

At the least, turn off the breaker if this is the only outlet supplied by it.

If possible, disconnect the wire from the breaker and/or remove the breaker.

If there are other necessary outlets on the circuit, you’ll need to locate where this section branches off and disconnect it there.

like beowulff said.

to be to code the box has to be accessible exposed (front of box at face of drywall) and a full cover plate on it.

turn that circuit off with the circuit breaker before working on it. leave that breaker switched off if that is the only thing on the circuit.

do not go into your breaker box, do not disconnect that wire from the breaker. do not remove the breaker from the breaker box. all that is unnecessary even if the hood is the only thing on the circuit. going in the breaker box is an extreme hazard which should be avoided for some one not well skilled in doing electrical.

The code says boxes must be accessible but sometimes common sense has to rule and I would do the same thing you suggest in this case.

Why not just make the outlet box accessible in the temporary drywall?

For a temporary fix, you could simply do a good job of taping the exposed ends, secure this to a stud that will be readily exposed during the final work, and then be quite confident that it would last until spring. This isn’t Code, but neither is a lot of stuff out there that lasts a lot longer than this will need to.

Obviously, power must be off while you do this. And if no other circuits are affected, leave the breaker off.

Personally, I would just bring them into a junction box, and either hook up an outlet or at least put a blank on the front.

Honestly, It’s WAAAAY against code, but if you cap them off (maybe tape the caps just to be sure) and secure them real well against a stud, you’ll probably be safe. But, for the love of god, thumb tack a note to the drywall that says “Live wires behind drywall.” It won’t take much for you to forget to mention it to a contractor before he rips into the drywall with a hammer or recip saw. Plan on a lawsuit if that happens.
Also, the other thing is, if for some reason something goes wrong and you wind up with a fire back there I wouldn’t be surprised if the insurance wouldn’t pay out on it.

On second thought, put them into a junction box and make an outlet out of it (or cap’m and put a blank plate on it)
ETA: Really, seriously, really, please, if you do drywall over the wires, PLEASE put a note up so that everyone knows that there are live wires back there.

I’d nail in a box. Then put a blank plate on it. Another option would be to poke the wires through the new drywall and wire nut or tape them. I would not bury them in the wall.

Let’s not exaggerate. Anytime a contractor opens up a wall, he/she has to be prepared for the possibility that there are live wires in there. You can’t have notes pinned up all over your house wherever there’s a wire in the wall.

I vote for making sure the wires are well capped, and even taped over with electrical tape, and stuffed back in the wall. Turn off the breaker if nothing else is on it. Anything beyond that is overkill, given that the arrangement is temporary.

That was my thinking. There is an understandable perception that the rule about hiding boxes is related to fire prevention but it isn’t. The rule on burying *panels

  • is covered by the NFPA in the U.S. and the National Building Code here. The rule about making the box inaccessible is in there because it’s a good wiring practice which of course is important but for a temporary arrangement I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it as long as the wires are secured and properly terminated.

Put in a box. You will need a box anyway if you eventually use the wires. A box and a blank cover cost what…$5?

I once was replacing the shelf above our bathroom sink, which required new holes to accommodate a larger bracket. I had no idea the wire to the vanity lights was back there, but I managed to drill right through it (with a corded drill). Fortunately, that tripped the breaker, so I was just left standing there wondering, “why did the drill stop?”

I suspect that the only reason Code wants the box to be accessible is for inspection. As you say, it has nothing to do with any fire risk.

But the problem is, there’s certain places contractors/demo guys/electricians/plumbers/etc expect wires to show up. For example, if there’s an outlet or switch, they expect wires to be in that stud bay. And yeah, even if they don’t expect wires to be there, they’ll still be careful knowing that there could be wires back there, the problem is, no one expects to find a wire in a stud bay that goes nowhere. Doing something like that is against code for a reason, now, I have no problem breaking code a little here and there as long as it’s still safe, but I really don’t see this as being safe.

You’re right, you can’t have notes pinned up all over your house wherever there’s a wire in the wall, that’s not what I’m suggesting (that’s a strawman, isn’t it?). I’m suggesting that if the OP ends up tucking the wires behind the temporary drywall he leaves one note, right there making sure whomever tears into that drywall knows that there are live wires back there, not attached to anything. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

But a bad wire connection can cause sparks or heat which could cause a fire, if the box is buried and you are having electrical problems you wouldn’t even know there was a junction there, and therefore couldn’t fix it.

agree with Joey P

also if a box was buried that was plastic or a plastic cover it might burn through if arcing. an exposed box you would smell a problem or hear it. a buried box could set things on fire before you could detect it.

I strongly recommend using small wire nuts (and then taping over them if you wish) instead of just using tape.