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Old 12-22-2011, 12:52 AM   #1
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Cutting/capping old cables - What to do with grounds & put these in oversize gang box


Short story is that I'm replacing all the fabric wrapped 14/2 (without ground) romex cables in my house that run lights, with new plastic 12/2 with ground romex cable.

The old fabric wrapped romex is stapled into the studs, so I'm not able to easily remove it. Being overly paranoid, I've been capping the old fabric wrapped romex in the switch junction boxes, and cutting/capping it in the attic in its own junction box. I'm removing the fabric sheath, separating the wires, leaving the wire insulation on, and putting a single orange wirenut on with electrical tape. (I found that Ideal brand orange is the smallest that properly takes a single 14 AWG with insulation still on it.) To clarify, I'm using separate wirenuts on the hot and the neutral.

Anyways, while re-doing a three way switch area, I found some old fabric wrapped 14/2 that actually does have a ground wire. I want to cap this off in a similar way.

I know these wires that I'm cutting/capping don't have voltage, but I can't be absolutely sure it's an uninterrupted cable going from the switch box to the attic. Being overly paranoid, I want to cap these off rather than just cut them and leave them be.

Question 1 - Going this route, what should I do with the ground wires for the cut and capped off cables? My first instinct is to tie it in with the grounds on the new live wires. Might confuse someone some day, but that way in case voltage ever hits those grounds, they're connected. I guess the other possibility would be to snip the grounds, but I'm guessing that's not the proper way to go. The new cables are running on brand new circuits, so if these old wires ever had voltage, it would (should) be from a different circuit, but I know that generally all grounds are tied together in the same box, even if they're from different circuits.

Question 2 - Anything against code for using a two gang box (I think 26 cu in.) for a single switch, so there's enough room to properly have 4 cut/capped cables? And, similarly, using a three gang box (I think 44 cu in.) for a single switch and a single three way switch, so there's enough room to properly have 4 cut/capped cables? Like I said on #1, the new cables are on brand new circuits, but I think it's OK to have multiple circuits run inside the box like this (especially since the old wires shouldn't be on a circuit at all anymore.)

I'd be using a make your own cover kit, so one box would be switch/blank, and the other would be switch/switch/blank. Before I thought of using a box with an extra gang for a blank area, I was figuring I'd have to use junction boxes with blank covers on them, and I hated this idea. I think an extra gang that's a blank would look nicer than entire blank boxes.

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Old 12-22-2011, 03:59 AM   #2
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Cutting/capping old cables - What to do with grounds & put these in oversize gang box


What?? If the wall is open get a pair of dikes and remove the staples it's real easy, or just cut the old cable outside the box. If the wire isnt used there is no reason to cap all of it! In addition once you remove all the wire take it to the scrap metal yard and make some money

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Old 12-22-2011, 06:56 AM   #3
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Cutting/capping old cables - What to do with grounds & put these in oversize gang box


If you are not absolutely positively sure both* ends of a section of wire have been disconnected, the ends must be capped off inside a junction box or outlet box with an exposed cover.

The ground wire in a so-decommissioned cable may be unhooked at the outlet box, perhaps saving green wire nut interior space, as soon as the accompanying hot wires are unhooked.

I'm not sure whether you have to count decommissioned conductors in the box fill calculations. But regardless of box fill, if it is hard to stuff everything in the box then you need a bigger box (especially with ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles which are larger than regular receptacles).

* All three ends of a section with a T joint in the middle which joint might be not in a junction box in very old wiring.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 12-22-2011 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:40 AM   #4
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Cutting/capping old cables - What to do with grounds & put these in oversize gang box


Julius793 - The wall isn't open, unfortunately. If it was, I'd be yanking it all out. I've only made a small hole that is just large enough to take the old box out and put a new one in.

AllanJ - Just to double check, it sounds like you're saying the decommissioned ground doesn't have to be connected, but there's no reason that it has to be disconnected, right? If it were easy enough for me to connect it to the others, would that be OK?
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