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Thread: Can I install outlets/switches before drywall?

  1. #1
    DIY Member ironspider's Avatar
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    Default Can I install outlets/switches before drywall?

    Greetings all,

    I have finished framing out and installing all the blue boxes in my basement finishing project. I plan to have the drywall done by professionals (and by "professionals" I mean someone *other* than myself) but I have time right now (couple of days off from work and the weekend coming up) and was wondering if I could install the receptacles now, or if I should just leave the romex folded up and pushed back into the boxes (that's what I have currently done).

    If I shouldn't actually do the receptacles at this point, I'm hoping it's okay to leave the light switches wired (there's no light in the basement so i installed 2 banks of 3 way switches on each end of the basement main room)--because that would be a real pain to rewire!

    The little metal tabs on the top of the three-way light switches doesn't seem to extend very far past the blue box but I thought I'd ask the pros before I do somethign that's goign to p*** off the drywallers!

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member Nate R's Avatar
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    I did this in my bathroom and stairway to check my wiring, and make sure I set up the 3-way switch correctly, etc.

    I just pulled the switches and killed the power when I did the drywall. Then reinstalled the switches after. I think it's worth doing that way. Otherwise, you better HOPE the box depth is set EXACTLY right, or the switch will not be flush with the wall.
    -Nate R
    *NALP*

  3. #3

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    Yes you can wire them up first. It's not ideal for the drywallers but if they are any good it won't be an issue. If you leave them wired, unscrew the outlets/switches and put the top in the box with the bottom sticking straight out or vice versa so the drywall cal be sealed around the box better. Then you can just put them back to normal without the outlets being sunk in to far behind the drywall.

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    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    Yes you can. Do not screw them to the box, just leave them loose so that when the drywaller cuts the hole for it, he can maneuver the switch/oultlet through the hole. Also, I think it would be wise to black tape around the terminal screws a few rounds so that there is no accidental contact.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  5. #5
    Electrical Contractor Jim Port's Avatar
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    Since it seems the drywallers hold the sheet up and then cut the holes your plan is fine. That is unless you like pissed off rockers and roto-zip cuts to your wires and devices.

    As far as the box depth, you should know how thick the rock is so they can be properly set before.

  6. #6
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    Not sure if my post was clear enough. What I meant was to connect the wiring to the outlet and switches but do NOT screw the receptacle or switch to the box. Leave it suspended in the air. The drywallers will measure to the box and mark the cuts on the drywall since they will not be able to hang the drywall and make the cut later. When they lift the drywall to hang it, they will pull the switches and outlets through the hole that has been cut. After the drywall is hung, the "ears" (they look like mickey mouse ears) of the outlets and switches grab onto the drywall as they are screwed to the electric box. If the ears don't grab the drywall then the cuts for the boxes were made to large and you will most likely have a loose switch or outlet unless other measures are taken to correct the oversize cut. Hope that made sense.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  7. #7
    In the Trades jnaas2's Avatar
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    Ask the drywaller how they hang there sheets, most guys get paid by the board and the fastest way to hang drywall is to get a measurement to the center of the box and hang the drywall and then use a roto zip tool to cut around the box.If the switches and outlets are in place you may piss them off and charge more for the job.If they measure and then cut before hanging no problem. And if they do use a roto zip make sure the wires are pushed way back into the box, ive seen them cut the wire insulation a lot

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Wire the switches and receptacles. Wrap tape around them to isolate the terminals. Then put them into the boxes with the end sticking out. The drywallers can cut the holes, put the sheets in place, and then you pull the devices out, turn them into position, and screw them in.

    Jonas. That is NOT a good picture of a flying saucer/UFO. ALL the good ones are so blurred that you cannot tell what it is. (but they usually look like lighting fixtures).

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    Electrical Contractor Jim Port's Avatar
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    Why would you need to tape up the terminals when the devices aren't energized?

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    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Why would you need to tape up the terminals when the devices aren't energized?
    They are energized. That is the point of why he needs them there before the drywall is up. Even if they weren't, it would still be a good idea to tape them while there is no power.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  11. #11
    DIY Member ironspider's Avatar
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    Gang, thanks for all the great replies!

    The lighting circuit is energized (the one with the 3 3way switches) but again, that was just because there's no light Of course if they used work lights they could cut that circuit. I did tape them so that's all set.

    The receptacles/outlets are on a different 20amp circuit that is not energized (hasn't been tied into the main panel yet) so there should be no chance of anyone getting shocked there. I'm going to wrap those with electrical tape as well though!

    Thanks again everyone. These forums, as always, are great!

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