Built in bookcase electrical issue

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Old 04-07-10, 06:53 PM
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Built in bookcase electrical issue

Greetings!

Long time reader first time poster I have been going around my 1940's home and replacing all outlets/boxes/switches/breakers for good measure. Luckily, nearly all of the wire is in good condition. However, I recently got myself into a snag with an outlet that was attached to my built in bookcase. The outlet always tested with having an open ground. As I started investigating I noticed that whoever built the bookcase built it over an electrical outlet. The builder then added an extension and wired in a new outlet on the outside of the bookcase.

I really would like to replace the old outlet but I know it is a code violation to have it not accessible. What are my options? Do I need to create an access panel on the side of the book case and then move the outlet to the bottom of the bookcase? How do I connect this new outlet to the existing wiring? A box extender will be impossible since the bookcase is about 8" wide.

Needless to say I am lost and could use some expert opinions. Any help is appreciated.





 
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Old 04-07-10, 07:18 PM
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Can you drop a new cable from above or can you come from below with a new cable. If so I would suggest a new cable for the accessible recptacle. Then determine where the cable to the buried receptacle comes from and if the buried receptacle feeds any other receptacles. With luck you can easily disconnect the buried receptacle and abandon it.
 
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Old 04-07-10, 07:32 PM
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Is that the cable that fed the receptacle or is it a single conductor?

If it is a cable you should be able to install an old work box and re-install the receptacle.
 
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Old 04-07-10, 07:48 PM
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Ray - I could try and find the junction box that is supplying that particular outlet. In a 40's home, sometimes that is easier said than done.

pcboss - The cable that you see plugged into the outlet inside the bookcase is indeed the power for the recepticle that was located on the outside of the bookcase. (What you now see as a cable with a wire nut on the end) Are you saying install the work box where the original outlet is inside the bookcase?
 
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Old 04-07-10, 08:20 PM
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That is quite the code violation you have there!

1) As Ray posted, you either need to abandon the receptacle that has been covered or create an access to it. Hopefully it is just fed with one cable.

2) Hopefully you can refeed the the grounded receptacle from below using a old work box as PC posted.
 
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Old 04-07-10, 08:20 PM
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Leah, if I understand your situation that cable with the wire nut actually comes out of the receptacle shown in the photo with the cord plugged in. Can you confirm?
 
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Old 04-07-10, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Leah, if I understand your situation that cable with the wire nut actually comes out of the receptacle shown in the photo with the cord plugged in. Can you confirm?
Correct. Sorry for not making that clear.
 
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Old 04-07-10, 08:49 PM
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You could feed the cable from the old receptacle into an old work box and abandon the buried one if you can get all the cables out of it. You could install a blank plate over the hole where and the surface mount box was.
 

Last edited by pcboss; 04-08-10 at 06:11 AM. Reason: corrected info regarding situation
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Old 04-07-10, 10:25 PM
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um pcboss...the jbox would need to be accessable tho...



you could place a small 4 by 4 inch hole in the wood cover and paint
 
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Old 04-07-10, 11:22 PM
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I would do as ray suggested and run a new circuit! Come in through the bottom would prob be the easiest.

Or this would work and is simple and you want have to fool with the panel. Go in attack and find that circuit (cut power at breaker). Cut that wire in the attic and set you a Jbox right there above bookcase and run you some new 12/2 romex right down to the NEW (3 prong) receptacle. Do away with that old rigged up cord and 2 prong completely. Then you would use the work box as stated below to hold the receptacle in the wall there. (plastic box with "wings). Not to mention the box would be 100% accessible! Its really a easy fix.

P.S> I think this was also what Joe was saying. That looks like the end of a run with the window being right there.. Hopefully the circuit was brought back up over the window and back down.( if its got more on the circuit..) If so you could still do the attic Jbox thing and just put the downstream in the Jbox also. You will have to open it up and look at it.

Good Luck

Beer 4U2
 

Last edited by SilverTattoo; 04-07-10 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 04-08-10, 06:07 AM
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Sorry, Leah. After a PM I see where I was incorrect in my post above about just feeding that cable into a new box. I was not picking up that the cable was plugged in to feed from that receptacle that is inaccessible. I did not see that under the shelf was closed in on the other side.

I like Rays idea.

Thank you Ray and Ben.
 
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Old 04-08-10, 07:11 AM
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Thank you for all of the replys. I am off to work now but I will see if I can abandon the old outlet tonight.
 
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Old 04-08-10, 05:24 PM
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So I installed a work box today and ran some new 14-2 to the junction box. So far it appears I am pretty lucky and that outlet was the end of the circuit. The outlet works great and the ground is good now. Thanks for all of the help. I will cut out the old wire as much as possible but I think I will have to leave the old outlet in the wall because I can't reach it
 
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Old 04-08-10, 09:05 PM
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so you ran it through the floor to another power source? just confirming that you left the old box accessible if its still connected
 
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Old 04-08-10, 09:14 PM
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I traced back the old cable attached to the outlet inside the book case. I disconnected this cable from the junction box and ran a new cable up through the floor to wire in a new outlet.

The cable from the old outlet is dangling in the basement but it is not connected to a power source.

The old outlet is basically a paper weight in the wall because there is no way for me to remove the outlet without damaging the built in book case.
 
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Old 04-08-10, 10:00 PM
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OK thanks for confirming....good work...
 
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Old 04-09-10, 09:13 AM
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Is there a "best practice" on what to do with the old cable/conduit? Right now, the cable is about 4 feet long. I can cut the cable and just leave it potruding from the framing in the basement and then seal it. Is there any code that I need to worry about? I would also like to label the cable for the next owners of the house letting them know what it is and why it was cut.
 
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Old 04-09-10, 09:48 AM
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Heres what I've seen several electricians do when dead ending a cable but not removing it.

Put both ends in boxes with covers, wire nut all conductors together, put a note in the boxes with where the other end is and why it is dead ended.

We even did that in the Navy sometimes, when removing equipment that wouldn't be replaced for a while.
 
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Old 04-09-10, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by leahmic View Post
Is there a "best practice" on what to do with the old cable/conduit? Right now, the cable is about 4 feet long. I can cut the cable and just leave it potruding from the framing in the basement and then seal it. Is there any code that I need to worry about? I would also like to label the cable for the next owners of the house letting them know what it is and why it was cut.
When I rewired my house, the inspector asked me to cut the old BX cables flush with the framing or flooring and then push them back up through the holes if possible. So that's what I did. The idea is to prevent the cables from being used again (i.e. reconnected after the inspector had signed off).

My walls have a significant amount of BX left in them, and except possibly as a historical note, I don't see any need to explain to any future occupant why they are there.
 
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Old 04-09-10, 10:01 AM
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If you can find where that cable comes from you can disconnect it there and remove it entirely. If not you can just add a box at the end od the cable, cap the wires and abandon it in place. I would label it abandoned.
 
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Old 04-09-10, 10:56 AM
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Thanks guys, I appreciate it.
 
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