1. Home

Discuss in my forum

How to Add an Outlet to an Existing Wall

Receptacle Installation In a Finished Home

By

If you're like me, most homes need to add an outlet or twelve to their existing walls. If your home is among the many older homes with very few outlets in each room, why not add a few outlets, often called receptacles,to make the room a little more convenient? In this article, you'll learn how to add another outlet in an existing wall. These easy steps can be accomplished without damaging the portion of the wall that you see.

1. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #1: Turn Off the Power

A photo of a breaker being turned off.
Timothy Thiele
We all need to install an outlet in an existing wall from time to time. It may be that we've moved a bed, couch, or added an appliance to a wall where there is an outlet too far away or there just isn't one on that section of wall where it is now needed. As with any other electrical project, turn off the power to the circuit that you'll be working on. To do this, use a tester or plug something into the outlet. Go to the breaker or fuse panel and turn the circuit off that feeds the outlet. When the tester light goes out or the buzzing stops, the circuit is off and you have disconnected power from that circuit.

2. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #2: Before You Start

A photo of an empty wall.
Timothy Thiele
To install an outlet to an existing wall, the next step is prepping the area. Before starting the project, face the wall that needs another outlet. Clear everything away from the wall that you'll be working on. Locate the base trim and with a pencil, lightly mark the top edge of the base trim so that it leaves a mark on the drywall. This will be the area of the wall face that will be removed to access the wall cavity. Marking the area will allow an easy line to follow to make a cut into the wall and allow you the ability to cover the affected area up afterwards so that no one is the wiser that anything had ever been done.

3. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #3: Remove the Base Trim

A photo of trim being removed.
Timothy Thiele
The third step is to remove the base trim. Use a razor knife to break loose any paint that may be attached where the wall and trim meet. Yours may not have this problem, but I've listed it just in the event you do. Use a putty knife to loosen the trim from the wall and then use a flat bar to remove the trim. Push the flat bar down between the wall and the trim. Pull away from the wall with the flat bar the entire length of the trim. Set the trim aside for now.

4. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #4: Cut the Drywall

A photo of a drywall saw cutting drywall.
Timothy Thiele
Using a drywall saw, cut just below the pencil mark that you just marked on the wall. Be careful not to cut too deep and cut a wire hidden behind the drywall. Carefully pull the piece of cut drywall away from the wall. Set it aside so that you can reinstall it later.

5. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #5: Drill the Studs

A photo of holes being drilled in the studs.
Timothy Thiele
Using a drill and a 3/4" paddle bit or auger bit, drill holes in the center of the 2x4's, just above the plate. Do this from the existing outlet to the location where you'd like the new outlet.

6. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #6: Adding the Wire

A photo of wire being fed through the wall.
Timothy Thiele
Install 12-2 NM (Romex) through the holes that you drilled. Leave some slack at each end for adjustments later. If your box requires a Romex connector, add it now about six to seven inches from the end of the wire. Remove the lock nut for now. You will need it later.

7. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #7: Feeding Wire to a Box

A photo of a wire being installed in a box.
Timothy Thiele
From the existing box, take the knockout out of the bottom of the box. Feed a fish tape or a scrap piece of wire through the hole until you see it in the opening that you cut below. Attach the Romex to it with electrical tape and pull it through the hole in the box. Attach the lock nut and secure it with a tap on a screwdriver.

8. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #8: Mark the New Outlet

A photo of a box being marked for a cut.
Timothy Thiele
Take a tape measure and measure the top of the existing outlet. Now mark the new outlet the same. Use a pencil and a level to align and mark the new cut-in box.

9. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #9: Install the Cut-in Box

Drill the Studs
Timothy Thiele
Using the drywall saw, cut the drywall and remove the scrap. Knock the bottom knockout out of the cut-in box, so that you'll be able to insert the wire. Now, install the box and tighten the side straps or add Madison straps to hold the box in place.

10. How To Install an Outlet to an Existing Wall...Step #10: Feed Wire to Cut-in Box

A photo of a wire being installed in a box.
Timothy Thiele
Feed a fish tape or a scrap piece of wire through the hole until you see it in the opening that you cut below. Attach the Romex to it with electrical tape and pull it through the hole in the box. Attach the lock nut and secure it with a tap on a screwdriver. Your box may have its own wire strap. If so, tighten it once the wire is pulled at least six inches into the box.
Related Video
How to Replace a Wall Outlet

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.