How do I best make an outlet in my baseboards?
September 6, 2009 6:58 AM   Subscribe

How do I make an outlet in my baseboards? I'm re-wiring the bedroom due to an untraceable short circuit (yay...came home from vacation to no power in the bedroom) and have decided that installing outlets in the baseboards is the best way to go. But, um, the outside wall is brick...

The house is typical, all-brick construction from 1931. There are no outlets on either of the two exterior walls. I would like there to be. (actually, when I bought the place, there was a metal box with an outlet nailed to the floor. However, surface-mount boxes are deeper than my baseboards. I *think* the best option is to just mark the box location, then plunge the trusty roto-zip into the baseboard, plaster, and brick behind. I'd like to avoid pulling the baseboards again.

Bonus: the boxes have inlet tabs on each of the short sides (the ends). But mounting them horizontally would have the outlet be on the side, not facing down, which would be better for connecting to the wiring in the basement. Do I just wallow out a bigger hole in the baseboard and run the wire so it makes a right turn (downward) once it's out of the box?
posted by notsnot to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Typically a house with a brick exterior doesn't have the interior walls just plastered on that exterior wall. There should be interior studs and then plaster/lathe over that. Most codes require you to put the outlets a certain distance from the floor, etc. You can pull the baseboards out to make it easier to run wire but you still want to run it through the studs. It's not too hard to do. Then cut a hole in the wall where the outlet should go, run the wiring up to there and plaster up the holes.
posted by JJ86 at 7:24 AM on September 6, 2009

Sorry to say this, but I've had houses renovated and also done some work myself; whenever it comes to outside walls (especially brick) the amount of work involved in installing recessed receptacles is not worth it. Especially if the outside wall is also insulated. To get a good vapour seal and restore the previous insulative properties afterwards takes way too much time.

Is there any way the outlet can move a few feet near the corner, on an inside wall? Can the outlets not go higher and stay within code? Inspectors do sometimes have some leeway when walls are a major impediment.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:28 AM on September 6, 2009

As old as the house is, it's not going to be brick veneer. The boxes that I have that work like this have a metal tube for the wire that goes to the floor and are surface mounted on a wide, largely flat baseboard (with a little notch taken out of a piece of quarter-round molding at the bottom of the baseboard).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:54 AM on September 6, 2009

JJ86, I'm living in the second old house that has interior wet plaster walls right over the exterior brick walls. No studs, no air space, no insulation. I saw it many times when I was working as a house painter too. It's not uncommon in 19th century and early 20th century construction.
posted by octothorpe at 10:14 AM on September 6, 2009

(sorry, working on a friend's project first today)

I know for a fact that it's three layers of brick (the outside one is the only nicely-laid one) with plaster right on the inside. There are doors where interior walls meet exterior, so I can't just put an outlet on the interior wall.
posted by notsnot at 11:56 AM on September 6, 2009

I did this in my plaster and brick walls by drilling and chiseling out a recess for the outlet box, then using a long, 3/4 inch masonry bit to drill down from the outlet location and up from the basement, with the two holes meeting on a shallow angle. Worked pretty well.
posted by orme at 5:04 PM on September 6, 2009

I believe there are solutions where a special kind of cable can be run under the baseboard, and then the outlet would be surface mount.
posted by gjc at 5:57 PM on September 6, 2009

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