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Cutting/capping old cables - Grounds & put these in oversize gang box?

Cutting/capping old cables - Grounds & put these in oversize gang box?


Old 12-21-11, 10:52 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 62
Cutting/capping old cables - Grounds & put these in oversize gang box?

Short story is that I'm replacing all the fabric wrapped 14/2 (without ground) romex cables in my house that run lights, with new plastic 12/2 with ground romex cable.

The old fabric wrapped romex is stapled into the studs, so I'm not able to easily remove it. Being overly paranoid, I've been capping the old fabric wrapped romex in the switch junction boxes, and cutting/capping it in the attic in its own junction box. I'm removing the fabric sheath, separating the wires, leaving the wire insulation on, and putting a single orange wirenut on with electrical tape. (I found that Ideal brand orange is the smallest that properly takes a single 14 AWG with insulation still on it.) To clarify, I'm using separate wirenuts on the hot and the neutral.

Anyways, while re-doing a three way switch area, I found some old fabric wrapped 14/2 that actually does have a ground wire. I want to cap this off in a similar way.

I know these wires that I'm cutting/capping don't have voltage, but I can't be absolutely sure it's an uninterrupted cable going from the switch box to the attic. Being overly paranoid, I want to cap these off rather than just cut them and leave them be.

Question 1 - Going this route, what should I do with the ground wires for the cut and capped off cables? My first instinct is to tie it in with the grounds on the new live wires. Might confuse someone some day, but that way in case voltage ever hits those grounds, they're connected. I guess the other possibility would be to snip the grounds, but I'm guessing that's not the proper way to go. The new cables are running on brand new circuits, so if these old wires ever had voltage, it would (should) be from a different circuit, but I know that generally all grounds are tied together in the same box, even if they're from different circuits.

Question 2 - Anything against code for using a two gang box (I think 26 cu in.) for a single switch, so there's enough room to properly have 4 cut/capped cables? And, similarly, using a three gang box (I think 44 cu in.) for a single switch and a single three way switch, so there's enough room to properly have 4 cut/capped cables? Like I said on #1, the new cables are on brand new circuits, but I think it's OK to have multiple circuits run inside the box like this (especially since the old wires shouldn't be on a circuit at all anymore.)

I'd be using a make your own cover kit, so one box would be switch/blank, and the other would be switch/switch/blank. Before I thought of using a box with an extra gang for a blank area, I was figuring I'd have to use junction boxes with blank covers on them, and I hated this idea. I think an extra gang that's a blank would look nicer than entire blank boxes.
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Old 12-21-11, 11:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,356
With question one I would have removed the no longer in use wires but in your case I don't have an answer.

Question two is easy, yes, you certainly may use larger boxes to accommodate your wires and use blank sections in the cover plate. I do this all the time, especially when the cable supplying power comes into a box that has a three-way dimmer. If I didn't I wouldn't have enough room for the wires and dimmer. I even went so far as to install a box just for splices on the opposite wall from my living room lamp switches and that allowed for two separate power cables and all the cables for a three-way switch, three way dimmer and the outside porch light. I then ran just the necessary wires to the box containing the switch and dimmers. Since the junction box ended up behind the side of the refrigerator it cannot even be seen yet is readily accessible if it ever needs to be.
Old 12-22-11, 09:56 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 62
In RE Question 1 - I'd love to remove the decommissioned wires, but it's a relatively new paint job that still looks nice, so I don't want to tear open a lot more of the drywall and/or plaster.

In RE Question 2 - Great, thanks! I also like only having necessary wires in a switch or outlet box. I've been using a second junction box for each switch, the second one being located in the attic. That way, I only have the minimum wires necessary at the switch and at the light. I could have eliminated using these junction boxes, but then there would be a lot more wiring in the light's junction box, which I figure could be confusing to some inexperienced person in the future putting in a new light.
Old 12-22-11, 10:14 AM
ray2047's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,644
Assuming the cables are not connected at either end you cut them flush with the inside of the box and push them out of the box. It is important to do the same thing at the breaker panel so thy can't be reconnected. Push them out of the breaker panel. If the breaker panel is in an unfinished area remove as much of the wire as you easily can. No need to use wire nuts on either end.

Note: A correctly installed wire nut does not need to be taped.

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