Can I patch abandoned box with cover on it?

qmarkerOctober 31, 2011

I bought a brand new condo recently and while under construction I came here one day to check things out. Lo and behold, there was a huge bright red 'exit' sign complete with two flood lights fanned outward INSIDE my potential new condo above the front door to the outside world. I let out a quiet screech and said "that has to go".

The building developer/owner said the state required it to be there. Well there was no way it was going to remain for more than five minutes after I moved in. So I left it go.

On moving day, the exit light was all gone and there is a round blank plate above the door where it was. Of course the owner mis-interpreted the state inspector and corrected his error. That was wonderful !

Now, I am about to paint my new kitchen and I'd really like to remove the plate and patch the wall so the plate is no longer there.

The question is, can I do this??

Thank you, Donna

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You can remove the plate (and the box underneath) only if there are no "hot" wires inside. Chances are good that there are still wires carrying electricity inside that box. Yes, they can be re-routed, but that sometimes means cutting holes and patching drywall.

I'd contact an electrician to get an estimate.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 1:07PM
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If you are game, open up the cover.

If there is just 1 cable (3 with 3 wires) in the box, this will be an easy fix. You'll just have to find when the other end of that wire is coming from and disconnect it. Then, you can abandon the wires in the wall and patch the hole.

If there are 2 cables (3 wires each), the power is coming into this box and traveling on to power something else in the room. In that case, you'll have to rerun power to those outlets/lights. If you have an open basement below or attic above, that should be a quick job. If not, you'll end up having to cut some holes in the drywall in order to run the new lines.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 1:22PM
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If I were lucky enough to have an unused box in my kitchen ceiling, I would install a disco ball.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 2:51PM
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Ok, so far so good. Now someone please tell me how to pop the cover off of the thing and I'll see what's going on in there. I can also take a picture for you to see if that would help?

These condo's have no basements at all. There is four down and four up. So there is an empty condo above me. All of my pipes, electric, heating etc. is coming down at me I do belive.

This is not in the ceiling, it is in the wall above the door. The walls here are 9 feet high.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 3:14PM
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Ron Natalie

If it doesn't have screws holding it in place, try seeing if you can spin it counter clockwise. Some plates have a plastic threaded stud on the back that screws into the a bar.

Of course, you could just paint over it.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 3:54PM
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Ron Natalie

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 3:56PM
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I think it's highly likely that there are live wires inside the box, and, given your lack of electrical knowledge, your messing with them sounds ill-advised to say the least. I recommend that you put the most innocuous cover plate over it you can find and paint it to match. You can also consider hanging something decorative on the wall to cover it.

Finally, since this is a condo, you could be violating electrical code by making wiring modifications (like removing a cable run). You should also think about whether there are any insurance or permit issues involved for an unlicensed electrician -- you -- to be doing anything other than fiddling with the cover plate.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 12:47PM
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I climbed up and removed the cover. Snapped these as best as I could without removing the cover plate plastic holder.

Looks pretty dead to me. What do you think?

Link to pictures

Thanks again,

Here is a link that might be useful: Electric Box RIP ??

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 3:17PM
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Looks live to me.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 3:49PM
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Unless you can show the wires are already disconnected, it is very likely they are live under the wire nuts.

Find the feed and disconnect the cable there, or use a blank plate so it remains accessible.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 4:09PM
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That is about the best you can hope for - 1 cable coming in and nothing going out.

Now, since you are in a condo, call an electrician. It should be a pretty quick job for them to find where that box is being fed from and disconnect from there.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 4:18PM
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Seriously ... you think that you can tell if a wire is live or dead by just looking at it?
Please replace the cover and forget about this.

I notice that your walls have a texture on them. Even if you manage to disconnect the wires from their source and make it legal to cover over this junction box, you are going to have a hard time matching the texture and making the patch unnoticeable. Just leave the cover plate as it is. You won't notice it anymore in about a week.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 9:33AM
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Yes the walls are textured, but has never been a problem for me to fix or patch textured walls. I have decided to leave the box alone with a cover, but I am going to get my paint today and I am going to look for a 'flat' cover. The one that is there is rounded like the picture above, and I purchased a lovely clock to hang there but the round plate has to go away because the clock will have to hang flat attached under the plate (which is not centered vertically) and the clock would hang funny touching the rounded plate at its top.

Also,I'm going to texture and paint the blank plate to match the wall because the clock numbers float making the wall visible between its numbers. Then I'll be happy.

I'd like to thank all of you for putting up with my questions and giving me good advice.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 11:19AM
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Make the General Contractor remove it as a punch list item. I'm sure it wasn't on the lighting drawing you approved for construction. His mistake to install it, his dime to remove it. If I put random extra outlet boxes in homes I'm sure I would have to remove them at my cost. Am I the only one who sees it this way? I don't know a customer who would pay to fix my mistake.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 7:28PM
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