Carpeting Over Old Floor Outlets

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Old 05-13-10, 05:51 AM
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Carpeting Over Old Floor Outlets

I've got two electrical outlets in my family room floor. They're original as far as I can tell, or at least were there when I purchased the home. We're redoing the family room and would like to carpet over them.

I originally intended to simply cut the line before the two boxes as I didn't think it extended past the second box. It turns out I was wrong. I'm not sure yet where the line goes from the second box, but it does appear to continue on past it.

So my second thought was to simply remove the outlets and turn them into junction boxes, close the holes in the subfloor and carpet right over them. One of the two is accessible (barely) from the basement. The bottom of the box is boxed in with supports and directly over the HVAC pipes so accessing it would be a royal pain - but it would be possible. The other however is above the finished drywall ceiling in my office and wouldn't be accessible at all, which I understand to be a no-no.

So absent telling my wife that we have to cut holes in her new carpet installation, which would not go over well, what are my options?

Any help, as always, is appreciated.
 
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Old 05-13-10, 07:14 AM
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Your options are limited. The two truly viable options are to rerun the wire in your basement to circumvent those boxes and remove them, or keep the boxes above the new carpet to maintain access.

Covering those boxes with carpet and still using them as part of the circuit to conduct through to the subsequent boxes is not a legal option.
 
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Old 05-13-10, 08:37 AM
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To add to what RH said, the electrical code also requires that living rooms have receptacles every so many feet. Nowadays that distance is 12' but yours might be further apart as the building is older. Removing these entirely would almost certainly leave you with too few receptacles for the size of the room. Carpeting over them is also not an option. If possible, you could fish some wiring in to the walls and put your receptacles there, but that would be a fair amount of work for little benefit.

I would simply have your rug installers cut them through the carpet and use them as they're supposed to be used. Check out the company Lew Electric for a pretty wide selection of decorative covers for floor receptacles. They come in brass, nickel, aluminum, stainless and painted finishes -- should be able to find something that matches the decor. You'll probably need to buy online or go to an electrical supply company to order these because I haven't noticed them in the big box stores.

This is a link to the PDF catalog:

http://www.lewelectric.com/PDF%20fil...%20Catalog.pdf
 
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Old 05-13-10, 08:48 AM
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Well dang, I was hoping there was some magic solution I wasn't thinking of.

I'm not worried about spacing of outlets, I'm well within code there, probably closer to one every 6-10' in fact. The house isn't all that old, the original owners just wanted these two floor outlets because they had a couch and end tables placed in the middle of the room (it's quite a large room). Unfortunately with our layout that puts the outlets right in the middle of the open space in front of the TV. Not only unsightly, but also uncomfortable as that's where the kids end up laying on the floor when watching a movie.

I'll try to trace the rest of the line this weekend, and see what else I'd lose if I went ahead and killed the line before the first box. Absent that I may go ahead and do the junction box route with a modification. The outlets have a nice heavy brass top plate which covers over the outlet that screw down for safety. I suppose I could have the carpet installers cut out circles directly over the outlets and then glue the circle to the top plate leaving a hole to access the screws which hold the top plate down. Not ideal, but better perhaps than the outlets themselves being visible. Depends on how well the carpet installers could make that seam look I suppose. That would still be considered 'accessible', wouldn't it?
 
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Old 05-13-10, 09:16 AM
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Didn't even think to address wall outlet coverage, good catch ibpooks.

As to gluing carpeting to the top of a cover, I wouldn't recommend it. Technically it's utilizing the device in a way that is not tested or addressed by the manufacturer, and could very well be seen as voiding the UL listing of the device. It also may inhibit the dissipation of heat, which could constitute a fire hazard.

I'd rewire around the things and get rid of them. I hate floor boxes for many reasons, not the least of which is because I had to work on them so often at the Mall of America when I used to do maintenance out there. I hate the things with an irrational passion.
 
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Old 05-13-10, 09:28 AM
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Okay, I assumed this was an old house with floor receptacles. Sometimes they put them in the floors because there were steam heaters on the walls or too tough to cutout the plaster.

In this case, I would probably try to find a way to wire around these boxes so they can be abandoned safely. One option in the basement office would be to cut an access panel and paint the cover to match the ceiling.
 
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Old 05-13-10, 06:13 PM
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If these are bona fide floor boxes and not wall boxes cut in to the floor, you could find the manufacturer and order carpet flanges for them if you decide to keep them. Another option would be to wire around them, cover them with abandonment plates and then carpet over them. Of course, you'll have to order accessories from the floor box manufacturer. IF these are just wall boxes cut in to the floor, they are illegal and need to be removed.
 
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Old 05-14-10, 04:56 AM
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Update: I traced the line last night and it turns out I was incorrect. The floor boxes are not in the middle of the line, they are in fact at the end. After some additional tracing and a bit of guess work I was able to find the wall outlet immediately preceding them in the line and disconnect the feed. The boxes are now completely dead, no power feed to them at all.

CasualJoe, you mention abandonment plates - what are those? These are in fact bona fide floor boxes. They stick up about a half inch from the floor (just enough to pop up above the carpet), but they appear to have spacer screws which will let me lower the top plate. I was intending to drop the top plate down that half inch so it is flush with the floor and have the carpeters simply pad and carpet right over the top of them. I take it there's a better way?
 
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Old 05-14-10, 05:22 AM
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Most cases when putting a floor box in a wood subfloor we use a metal box called a "wall case" and just flip the ears around to give us our 1/2" http://tnblnx3.tnb.com/emAlbum/album...1_51_ph_44.jpg You can loosen the screws and the ends and push the box down. I suggest covering the hole with a 4x4" steel cover just to make sure a table leg or high heal shoe doesn't hit that spot.
 

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Old 05-14-10, 05:37 AM
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This is actually a true floor box, it looks very similar to the 812-DFB on page 10 of the Lew Electric catalog ipbooks linked below. The cover is solid brass and even has covers over the outlet plugs themselves, so the only unprotected area would be the slight gap all around the box (the hole in the floor was cut perhaps 1/4" wider than the box itself).

Even so, I like the idea of a 4"x4" steel cover of some sort to provide a bit of extra protection and more of a seamless floor area. I'll see if I can find something like that this weekend.
 
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Old 05-14-10, 07:28 AM
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Even so, I like the idea of a 4"x4" steel cover of some sort to provide a bit of extra protection and more of a seamless floor area. I'll see if I can find something like that this weekend.
Try a blank cover plate for a square 4"X4" Jbox.

 
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Old 05-14-10, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Try a blank cover plate for a square 4"X4" Jbox.
Humm I feel as though that was suggested before.

There is also a larger cover for a 11B box which IIRC is 4 13/16" which is what in the Ray's image. You can get them without the KO in the middle
 
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Old 05-14-10, 11:38 AM
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I'm enough of a perfectionist that I'd hate that 1/8th inch difference in the subfloor, even though under the carpet you'd never feel it, and I'd probably fix it more like a sheetrock patch. To each their own.
 
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Old 05-14-10, 11:44 AM
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Yes, I should have mentioned no knock out. Thanks you for catching that.
 
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Old 05-14-10, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
Humm I feel as though that was suggested before.

There is also a larger cover for a 11B box which IIRC is 4 13/16" which is what in the Ray's image. You can get them without the KO in the middle
That wouldn't be 4 11/16", would it?
 
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Old 05-14-10, 05:17 PM
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CasualJoe, you mention abandonment plates - what are those?
Find the manufacturer of the floor box and google them with abandonment plates. All manufacturers may not offer them, but the majors like Walker and Hubbell do. They are a blank cover used to abandon a floor box, once the wiring is disconnected.
 
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