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Knocking down a wall with electrical wires and outlets makes the job a bit more complicated, but if you follow the proper steps, it should be straightforward. All you have to do is carefully remove the drywall and move the outlets and wiring or terminate them.
Here’s how to knock down a wall that has an outlet:
- Get the right tools.
- Prepare the area.
- Shut off your power.
- Score the corners.
- Disconnect the outlets from the drywall.
- Remove the drywall.
- Move or terminate your outlet.
- Cut out the studs.
Keep reading as we’ll go through the steps to quickly and safely demolish a wall with electrical outlets or light switches in it.
1. Get the Right Tools
Before you can take down the wall, you’ll need some tools and materials to help you get the job done.
To remove a wall with outlets, you’ll need:
- Pry bar
- Utility knife
- Drill or screwdriver
- Stud finder
- Wire caps
- Reciprocating saw
- Eye protection
- Filtering face mask
- Work gloves
When demolishing anything, it is crucial to wear safety gear. Cutting through drywall releases tons of dust, which can irritate your lungs and eyes if you aren’t adequately prepared. So, for your own safety, keep yourself covered!
In addition, you’ll need enough plastic or fabric to cover your furniture and any vents in the area since all of that dust can get into crevices where you don’t want it to be.
Before you can demolish the wall, you’ll need to use a stud finder to determine what sections you should see.
Stud finders are easy to find, here is one sold on Amazon Folai Stud Finder Wall Scanner (available on Amazon.com) that is affordable and can get the job done. This stud finder finds electrical wires and studs inside your wall before even making the first cut, helping you avoid sawing or hammering into the cables or beams under your drywall.
If you want to remove the outlet from your drywall and terminate it, you will also need some wire caps like these helpful multi-size Bates Wire Nuts (available on Amazon.com). They’re made of heavy-duty, high-quality materials that will last for a long time, and the package comes with 150 caps, so you won’t need new ones for some time.
2. Prepare the Area
Once you have all of your materials, it’s time to get ready for the demo.
To prepare the area around your wall, you will need to put down tarps over vents and furniture. Then, you can use your stud finder and a pencil to find and mark the areas of your wall that include wires and studs.
As I mentioned, demolishing a wall will create tons of dust, so be sure to cover everything in the room with drop cloths, sheets, tarps, or anything else that will catch the debris from getting on your furniture.
It’s also crucial to cover vent openings and air filters since the dust can quickly enter the air ducts and travel to other rooms in your home, leaving your entire house covered in dust.
Once everything is covered, pull out your stud finder and mark up your drywall.
Try to find the areas around your outlet where electrical wires travel through the wall and trace them with a pencil.
3. Shut Off Your Power
Next, you’ll need to turn off your power to prevent electrocution during the demolition.
Be sure to turn off your power from your home’s circuit breaker anytime you work with outlets or light switches. While you remove the drywall, you run the risk of cutting into electrical wires, which could electrocute you, so to remove all risk, turn off the power.
Be sure to turn off the power to all rooms in your home before cutting into the wall.
If you only turn off power to the room you are working in, you will never know whether all of the circuits are dead or not. So, cut off the entire power supply from your home before you do anything to your wall.
4. Score the Corners
When you demolish a wall, you will need to create a weak point between the wall and the ceiling and other walls connected to it.
Scoring the corners and joints on your drywall with a utility knife will create a place where your wall will easily break off from other walls and your ceiling. Scoring can also prevent unwanted breakage and crumbling on different walls, saving you from having to patch or replace other walls in your home.
To score the corners, take a sharp utility knife and cut around the floorboards, corners, and top of your wall. Be sure to get the knife into the joints as deeply as possible without puncturing the wall completely.
5. Disconnect the Outlets From the Drywall
Once the power is turned off, you’ll need to unscrew the outlet brackets.
To disconnect your outlets from the drywall you want to demolish, unscrew all brackets. Then, you can use your sledgehammer or a utility knife to cut along the areas where your electrical wires are.
Then, use a screwdriver or power drill to remove the brackets and outlet covers from your wall’s outlet.
Next, create a gap between the drywall and your outlet with your sledgehammer, being careful not to hit the wall too hard.
Once you create a gap, look for a thick electrical cord that comes from your outlet. Use your utility knife to cut along the wall, tracing the wire to the end of the section you want to demolish.
When you are done, you should have a long, narrow hole in your wall that you can look inside to see the electrical cord.
6. Remove the Drywall
Once you can see where the electrical wire is, you can start to demolish the wall.
To remove both sides of your drywall, use a sledgehammer, your reciprocating saw, and a pry bar to cut out and remove large sections, being careful not to damage the studs and electrical wire.
Starting from the corner or from the hole you created to find your electrical wiring, use your reciprocating saw to cut out large rectangular sections of drywall from between your studs.
Then, you can use your pry bar or sledgehammer to remove the rest of the wall carefully.
Once you have removed all drywall, you can dispose of it and remove it from your home.
7. Move or Terminate Your Outlet
Now that the wall is out of the way, it’s time to remove the outlet and electrical wiring.
If you want to keep your outlet and move it, cut a hole where you want the outlet to go and reinstall it. If you don’t want to keep your outlet, use wire cutters to snip the wire and cap it with a wire nut.
Once the wall is gone, you should be able to see the electrical wires from inside. Usually, these wires run straight through the wooden beams from inside your wall.
Unplug the thick electrical wire from your outlet and use a screwdriver or power drill to unscrew the outlet’s metal bracket from the beams.
If you don’t want to move your outlet to another wall, you can snip the wire close to the end of your demolished section and put a wire nut on the top of it.
However, if you want to keep the outlet, you’ll need to unplug the electrical wire from the outlet and pull the cord back down to the end of your demolished section. From there, you need to cut a hole in your wall where you want the outlet to go and reinstall it.
No matter how you choose to remove the outlet, you now have a wire-free wall ready to come down.
8. Cut Out the Studs
Now, all you should have left are some studs, which are ready to be removed.
To finish knocking down your wall, you will need to remove the studs. You can use a reciprocating saw to cut the base and top of the studs out. Then you will be able to slide the planks out one by one.
After you have cut all the studs out, you are done taking down your wall!
At this phase of the project, you can choose to patch up and sand off any excess drywall leftover from demolition to give your new open-space area a fantastic finish.
When knocking down a wall with electrical wiring and outlets, you need to be extremely careful. However, with a bit of care, it is possible to handle it yourself. That said, make sure you’re staying safe when doing this – shut off the power before working on the area, and make sure you’re wearing all the required safety gear.
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- The Spruce: How To Remove a Full Interior Wall (Non-Load Bearing)
- HGTV: Demolition: Removing Walls
- SF Gate: Taking Electrical Outlets Out of the Walls
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.