What is this strange object attached to my basement floor?
July 1, 2007 3:46 PM   Subscribe

What is this strange object attached to my basement floor?

I can only assume this is something electrical because of the description on the cap of this thing. However, it is located in the vicinity of where my basement is pre-plumbed for a bathroom.

You'll notice from the enclosed photos that it's kind of cemented on, so I have no real way of knowing what's inside... hence, my inquiry. I would rather not have to crack it open to find out (possibly to my detriment).

Photo #1 (Strange Object in its natural environment)
Photo #2 (Close-Up with Text)
posted by fusinski to Home & Garden (23 answers total)
Looks like a junction box to me, you're not allowed to have junction boxes that are not reachable, does your basement have a sump ?
posted by iamabot at 3:57 PM on July 1, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, but it's on the other side of the basement, about oh... 20 feet away.
posted by fusinski at 3:58 PM on July 1, 2007

It's simply called an electrical box. They are installed in walls behind your outlets and light switches so the bare wires that are attached to the outlets and switches can't somehow spark a fire inside your wall. It's kind of odd to see one in your floor embedded in the concrete though. I'm guessing if you cracked it open, there would be wiring that goes to your breaker box so you can run power to the bathroom.

Here's a link to a similar one that goes into ceilings:

electrical box at Lowes
posted by AaRdVarK at 3:59 PM on July 1, 2007

Does your sewer come in to the house above or below the floor level of your basement? If it's above, it might be to supply water to put in a "brown water" pump.
posted by AaRdVarK at 4:00 PM on July 1, 2007

Response by poster: I'm guessing if you cracked it open, there would be wiring that goes to your breaker box so you can run power to the bathroom.

Innnteresting. I wonder if this is on the same GFI protected circuit as the rest of the bathrooms in my house? That would make sense!
posted by fusinski at 4:02 PM on July 1, 2007

Response by poster: Does your sewer come in to the house above or below the floor level of your basement?

I believe it comes in below, since the pre-plumbing for the toilet goes into the basement floor. But I am new to this stuff... I expect it will take me 2 years or so to finish the basement because of the learning curve.
posted by fusinski at 4:07 PM on July 1, 2007

Well easy way to tell if their is electrical running in there, you can buy a 5 dollar live wire proximity sensor at most major and minor home* stores, looks like a sharpie.

If you want something a little more robust and multi useful you can pick up a stud sensor with the ability to check for live wires in walls, this should also be able to determine if their is current running it it, more expensive, but if you don't have a stud sensor already they are generally pretty handy and can be picked up for under 30 bucks with this feature.
posted by iamabot at 4:08 PM on July 1, 2007

I forgot to add, the above won't require cracking that sucker open.
posted by iamabot at 4:09 PM on July 1, 2007

I'll bet your paycheck that the box isn't even being used, or was just placed over the top of something else.

Not to get into specifics, but that type of box isn't used in that kind of situation and I would be very surprised if there is something in it.
posted by wile e at 4:55 PM on July 1, 2007

I'm not a contractor but that looks like somebody was just improvising a half-ass solution to something, such as a way to cap off the end of a pipe that was too short. There's no way that should be there used in that way, they're designed to be nailed into wall studs or ceiling joists as others have pointed out already. If there's actually anything electrical under there I'd be very surprised if it meets code.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:00 PM on July 1, 2007

For example maybe he didn't have the right kind of plug on hand to seal up the toilet flange and so he just used a convenient piece of plastic that fit over the opening?
posted by Rhomboid at 5:34 PM on July 1, 2007

Definately the backside of a junction box. Dunno why though, but it could be lots of things. If you're super curious, you could replace it for about 79 cents.
posted by TomMelee at 6:07 PM on July 1, 2007

It's an upside-down junction box. It looks as if somebody tried to install a ceiling fan underneath the concrete slab. So my bet is that it's either a very poorly done hack, or somebody accidentally dropped it in the concrete when it was wet. Neither sound very probable, but that's really not how that box should be used, so who knows.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:42 PM on July 1, 2007

It's an obvious hack, it's not supposed to be either on the floor or embedded in concrete. If you own the home, you really ought to resolve it for piece of mind and also for resale time, one would think any competent home inspector would write it up.
posted by scheptech at 10:29 PM on July 1, 2007

I'd bet it isn't empty, it looks like it is in the centre of a concrete patch. I'd bet something happened to something embedded in the concrete, they chipped the slab away to make the repair and then covered the repair with the junction box in case of future trouble with the joint.

Is there a beam directly above the box? Someone might have removed a telepost or other structural post.
posted by Mitheral at 11:34 PM on July 1, 2007

Crack it open! Then tell us what is underneath it. I'm serious.
posted by reeddavid at 12:05 AM on July 2, 2007

Whatever it is, it's pretty obvious that it was set in there after the basement was originally poured. It's sitting right in the middle of an obvious patch from some post-construction work. I agree with others who say this is a hack. The fact that it's set in the concrete itself makes me think it isn't really an electrical access. I've seen weirder stuff.
Does it smell in general vicinity? I can well-imagine some bubba "contractor" tying into the waste drain and capping it off with whatever he had handy in the truck.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:06 AM on July 2, 2007

Crack it open! Then tell us what is underneath it. I'm serious.

I agree with reeddavid. Open it! Open it! Open it! It is a junction box, and this is neither where it should be nor how it is installed -- therefore, it has been repurposed, for something. Find out what, or all of us are coming over to open it for you.

Turn off the power and water first, and don't let anyone use the sewer while you do this. Just in case.
posted by yohko at 8:16 AM on July 2, 2007

It simply shouldn't be an electrical junction box. It may be a cover for one, but it sure as heck shouldn't be a junction box. It might be a poor excuse for a drain plug cover for a future bathroom (OP says a rough-in was done for a bathroom down there), but either way, it shouldn't be there.

Rip it out, and post pics. :)
posted by Merdryn at 8:35 AM on July 2, 2007

Response by poster: I spent like 20 minutes chipping away at the cement with a hammer and a chisel, and that sucker is just flat-out buried. I might have an inspector come out and take a look at it. Weird that it wasn't mentioned by him when I bought the place.

I guess I could just crack open the plastic. I know that it's not a sewer, because there is a capped lavatory pipe about 3-4 feet away from it. Some comments here have me thinking that it might have been intended to be a shower drain, with a half-ass cover-up.
posted by fusinski at 10:15 AM on July 2, 2007

Response by poster: So I just convinced myself that it being a shower drain made a lot of sense, so I just sacked up and whacked the bejesus out of it with a hammer after turning off the electricity.

Looks like it's definitely a shower drain!
posted by fusinski at 10:34 AM on July 2, 2007

Thanks for posting the results!
posted by reeddavid at 11:31 AM on July 2, 2007

Thanks for posting the results fusinski! Now I have photographic proof that I can badger strangers on the internet into doing my bidding.

I was also curious about what was under there
posted by yohko at 12:12 PM on July 2, 2007

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