If the location of an existing power outlet is unsuitable or no longer serves your needs, you will need to know how to move it.
You could use an extension cord instead, but it’s not a permanent solution. It might not be safe either if there is a risk of someone tripping. Moving the outlet is the proper way to make it accessible again.
In General to move an outlet.
- First, disconnect the power.
- Remove the existing outlet at the old site.
- Prepare the new site by cutting out the wall to fit the new box and running the wire through the hole to the new site.
- Fit the box at the new site and securely attach it to the wall.
- Wire the new outlet using the same color scheme as the old outlet.
- Attach the cover plate to complete the installation.
- Be careful while working to minimize damage to the wall.
I will go into more detail below.
Why Would You Need to Move an Outlet
You might need to move an outlet, or it would be a good idea to do so if you’re in any of these situations:
- You’ve moved furniture around in a room, and one of the outlets is now out of reach.
- You’re doing renovation work and need to move an outlet.
- You’ve moved into a new home, and an existing outlet is inaccessible.
- You have to use an extension cord frequently and would like to shift an existing one closer to where you can avoid using an extension cord.
- You’re placing a new appliance far from an existing outlet.
Whatever the reason for moving an outlet, it’s not difficult to do it yourself, as long as you have basic DIY skills. You don’t need to call an electrician. I’ll show you how.
The Things You Will Need
To move an outlet in your home, you will need a pencil for marking, a hammer, a screwdriver, a cutter or drywall saw, and possibly a power drill, a new outlet box, wire, wire cutters, and wire nuts.
The wiring part is not complicated, and you have an existing wired outlet to duplicate the wiring.
But, importantly, you must minimize the damage to your wall.
This will probably be the greatest challenge. You’ll have to make a new hole at the target location for the outlet and cover up the old one. If you have a stud wall, you will be limited to where you can move the outlet.
As for the height, electrical outlets are normally positioned about 18 inches (1½ feet or approx. 46 cm) above the floor level.
Moving an Electrical Outlet
Step 1: Disconnect the Power
Disconnecting the power is the most important first thing to do.
You do this by going to the main panel and switching off the circuit breaker for the room you will be working in. Double-check by using a voltage tester or voltmeter.
Step 2: Remove the Outlet
Once you are sure the outlet has no power, open the existing outlet at the old site and remove it.
Remove the screw on the cover, pull the outlet out, and disconnect the wires. Then remove it completely.
Step 3: Prepare the New Site
Before moving the outlet to the new site, you must prepare it first.
Start by marking the exact location you want the outlet moved to. It must be at least a couple of inches away from any studs. Place the outlet’s box against the wall and outline it using a pencil.
Once the outline is made, carefully cut out along the lines using a cutter or drywall saw. You can also drill holes to help you make the hole if necessary.
Step 4: Run the Wire
Depending on your situation, you might be able to use the existing wire if the new site is closer than the existing site, or you might need to run some new wire if it is further away.
In other words, you only need a new wire if the existing wire is too short.
If the wires are coming from above, you may need to extend them. If they’re coming from below, and you’re relocating the outlet to a higher position, you will probably be able to pull the wire out, which will be longer than you need.
If you’re using a new wire and can extend the existing wire from the old site, that would be more convenient than running the wire from the panel.
Step 5: Fit the Box at the New Site
Feed the wire through one of the holes in the box at the new site.
Then position the box into the wall where you created the hole and secure it by screwing. Make sure the box is flush against the wall.
If you have a cut-in box rather than an ordinary one, it will have clamps that you can rotate 90° to open its tabs, which you can fit snugly behind the drywall before re-tightening the screws. The flange prevents the cut-in box from falling back into the wall.
Step 6: Wiring
You can wire the outlet at the new site with the box in place and the wires coming out.
Your wires will likely be black, white, and bare copper. If so, the black wire should be connected to the bronze terminal for the hot connection and the white wire to the silver terminal for the neutral connection. The bare copper wire is for the ground connection and will connect to the green screw.
If you connect wires, you are using wire nuts to hold the same color wires together.
Step 7: Attach the Cover Plate
Once all the wiring work is done, screw the outlet into place and attach the cover plate.
As you can see, moving the outlet was not so difficult, and minimizing the damage to your wall was more challenging.
Not only do you have to create a new hole for the outlet, but you also have to cover up the hole left at the old site.
However, instead of moving an existing outlet, you could extend the circuit to include a new outlet at the new site. This would be an extension of the circuit.
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