What Is A Junction Box And How Can You Determine If You Can Add A Line For An Additional Outlet?


It seems that there are never enough electrical outlets to keep up with the ever increasing demand from portable electronic devices and other power hungry appliances.

You can add an outlet from existing outlets, but there is always a concern of overloading the circuit, because it is likely that other outlets and overhead lights are already connected to the line.

If you have an exposed junction box in your basement or utility room, it's relatively simple to add an additional outlet. You can look inside a junction box to determine how many connections are already present and if there is room for one more outlet.

What is a junction box?

A junction box is a small metal or plastic box that is used to hide and protect electric wiring connections. You can spot them on your basement or utility room ceilings as a box with straight or flexible metal tubing projecting from them in multiple directions. This tubing is electrical conduit, and it contains sheaths of wire.

Junction boxes may contain terminals to which you can connect wires with ease, or they may simply consist of an empty box with punch-out holes in the sides. Wires are connected inside an empty junction box by twisting the wire ends together and securing them with wire nuts and electrical tape.

How can you determine if you can add an additional line to a junction box?

Junction boxes have a cover that is secured with screws and can be removed for additions or simple inspections. Before you go shopping for materials to add an outlet from a junction box in your home, you should check the intended box to determine the type of box (terminal or empty) and if there is room for an additional outlet.

Before attempting to remove the cover from a junction box, you must always turn off the circuit breaker that controls power to the box. A poor connection or loose wire inside the box could result in electric shock or death if the box is accessed while power is connected.

To remove the cover, you must loosen the two screws that secure it to the box and twist the cover slightly in a counterclockwise direction. This will release it from the slot connections.

If the box contains terminal connections, there must be empty terminals available for your additional line. If no terminals are empty, you must locate and choose another junction box until you find available terminals.

Space is the issue for empty junction boxes. If the chosen box has a mass of wires compressed inside the box that come pushing their way to freedom when the cover is removed, then it is already too full.

However, if you can add three additional wires ( a "hot" wire, a neutral wire, and a ground wire) to the connected wires to the box without overcrowding and compressing the existing wires, you can add an additional line to the box.

As always, if you have a doubt, call a professional electrician from a company like Royal Plus Electric. Electricians can perform the work in a safe and reliable manner in accordance with local codes.

About Me

updating electrical work in an older home

I knew before I bought an older home that it would require a lot of work. What I didn't expect was to find the the entire second floor of the home had inadequate electrical work and that it would all have to be updated to keep my family safe and conserve some energy. I created this blog as I worked to overhaul my house and redo the electrical mess that I uncovered. You will find out what should be and what should never be done when working with electricity in older homes and what you can do to ensure the safety of your family while living in your home.

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