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surface mount outlets

Posted by sofaspud (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 16, 10 at 16:37

When my house was built, the wiring plans called for the installation of one 20A outlet in the garage with exposed studs. For cost reasons, I left things be, because I know how to do basic wiring, and was planning to daisy-chain additional outlets around the garage. Much to my dismay, the local building codes had changed, and the garage was drywalled. Short of cutting drywall, is it permissible to replace the existing in-wall outlet with a surface mount box, and then daisy chain additional surface mount boxes around the garage, connected by conduit?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: surface mount outlets

Repairing the drywall will be less expensive than using EMT for surface wiring.

You can probably even escape drywall repair if you fish wires up and then over into the stud bays you want receptacles in.

Go up from the existing receptacle, then over, then back down.
You cut the new box holes in the drywall, and then use them to pull the cables in.

An 'old work' box will anchor to the drywall.


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RE: surface mount outlets

Thanks, Brick. What I neglected to mention is the drywall isn't smooth. They did some sort of stucco-look treatment with joint compound, so cutting out the drywall will mean smoothing the outer edges of the remaining drywall to put down tape, trying to match the "stucco" look already there, and I'm sure the color will never match (not big on the idea of painting the whole thing). I don't think I have a fishing option since there is a bonus room over the garage instead of an attic. Since you didn't come right out and say what I'm suggesting isn't permissible, can I assume it is?


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RE: surface mount outlets

If you can get into the space above the ceiling, there's no "Cutting" of the drywall probably necessary other than where the boxes are going (which would be covered with the switch plate). Drill a whole it the top plate. Cut a
hole the size of your box in the drywall and fish the wire down. I've done it a 100 times, and it wasn't particularly difficult even the first time.

Yes, you can install a box over an existing flush receptacle and run conduit around the inside of the garage (frankly, you can probably just run NM around the inside of the garage) but both suggestions would seem ugly compared to doing it rihgt.


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RE: surface mount outlets

You can surface mount the EMT, judst make sure it is up high enough to be above car bumpers and such.

EMT is not allowed were severe damage can occur.

It will be a real learning curve.

At every box the EMT must be bent up away from the wall with a small offset tn enter the box.

Buy extra pieces of EMT since you will need them if you do not have experience using a hickey and doing the required offsets.


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RE: surface mount outlets

Bummer that you didn't catch what was happening before the drywall went up.

Your bonus room does make it tougher, but I think that doing what you propose will have an effect on the salability and resale value of your home. It will look unattractive and "industrial."

I suggest you get a 54" or 72" flex bit. It will allow you to drill through multiple stud bays and minimize breaking into the drywall. There's a hole in the business end of these bits; twist a steel wire through that hole as you pull it back, then use that wire to fish your cable. Make sure you get the bit centered on each stud, and that you're not drilling through something else.


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RE: surface mount outlets

Thanks, David. Hadn't thought of the possibility you mention. Not too concerned on the saleability aspect since it is, after all, just a garage, but you gave me a good idea! Gotta assume there isn't any code for cable attachment except to secure it to the box when you're fishing in existing walls.


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RE: surface mount outlets

Yes, no securing required. I don't like the idea of blindly drilling through 5 or 6 feet of studs with a flex bit. Never know what existing wiring or plumbing might be encountered. Drill into some pex supply lines or home run circuits and then you have 10 times the mess to deal with. They also always seem to go of-course some how and wind up shooting out of the adjacent room's wall. Then again, using common sense of what plumbing is near by and what electrical is around makes it pretty low risk. Pictures of the house under construction would be priceless for doing such a thing (:


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RE: surface mount outlets

If you go the flex bit route (they work well but with some of the problems mentioned above) make sure you purchase the bending tools for holding the shaft bent at 90 degrees and have a slow speed drill.

I use a half inch drill not for the power, but for the lower RPM.
It makes the flex shafts easier to handle.
Make sure you have control on the shaft whenever the drill is running.
They WILL whip around and hurt you and cause damage.

I have used them for straight drilling with more 5 foot extension on them.
You can get from an attic all the way to a basement ceiling in a 2 story house interior wall.
You just keep adding extensions as you drill.


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RE: surface mount outlets

At every box the EMT must be bent up away from the wall with a small offset tn enter the box.

They make clamps that eliminate the need to bend the offset. Makes running EMT on the surface a lot easier (unless you like the professional look. :-) They look something like this:


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RE: surface mount outlets

I avoid those since it seems to invite (and result in) using the EMT to hang things from.

Like using minimum size running boards for cables across joists.
A decent size board seems to limit their use for hanging clothes.


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RE: surface mount outlets

I avoid those since it seems to invite (and result in) using the EMT to hang things from.

There is that and it's good that you try to protect the idiots from themselves. :-)

Now we CAN hang clothes from water pipes, right? Half inch galvie shouldn't deflect under load. ;-)


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RE: surface mount outlets

"Now we CAN hang clothes from water pipes, right? Half inch galvie shouldn't deflect under load. ;-)"

Black pipe for gas seems to be a regular clothe rod also.


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RE: surface mount outlets

I had my oil burner cleaned this morning, and the copper oil supply line buried in the concrete floor replaced with flexible copper in a plastic sheath, run overhead in plastic clamps. The service technician explained that the new oil line is not a clothes line, and that 1/2 inch rigid copper water pipes should not be used for that purpose.

As usual, the technician had some good stories describing idiocy in construction. The best new addition was a general contractor who locates the oil tank and burner at opposite ends of the basement.


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RE: surface mount outlets

Many years ago, while working for a POCO, I came across
a lakeside cottage, (2-story), that built a 2nd story
deck. The deck was directly under the #2 triplex service
wires and the clearance was approx. 5ft. above the floor.
Well, the ocupants thought it was a great place to hang
their wet beach towels. True story.


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RE: surface mount outlets

"Well, the ocupants thought it was a great place to hang
their wet beach towels."

It sounds worse than the real risk.

Triplex is insulated and gets wet every time it rains.

The splices are usually a larger problem than the actual triplex run.
They often have open metal that is electrically hot and can be touched by the inquisitive who get to close.


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