How to Install an Electrical Outlet in a Basement

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Installing electrical outlets in basements is relatively simple, but a few things must be considered before starting this project. Whether the basement where you will be installing the receptacles is dry, damp, or wet will determine the type of cable used. Whether the basement is finished or will be finished in the future will determine the way you route the cable from the service panel to the receptacles. Whether the receptacles will be for a general purpose, dedicated to a single appliance like a deep freezer, or a laundry receptacle will determines the number of receptacles allowed on the circuit and whether they must be GFCI protected. It is assumed here that you are working in a dry, unfinished basement and are installing general-purpose receptacles.

Things You'll Need

  • 12/2 w/Gr. ROMEX® cable
  • Two 3/8-inch cable connectors
  • Cable straps
  • 3/8-inch drill/driver
  • Spade bits
  • Masonry bits
  • Plastic wall anchor kit
  • Handy Box w/1/2-inch knockouts
  • 20-Ampere, 120-volt duplex receptacle
  • 20 Ampere, 120 Volt single-pole GFCI circuit breaker
  • Electrician's screwdrivers
  • Diagonal pliers/wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Razor knife
  • Wire strippers
  • Hammer
  • Black plastic electrical tape
  • Handy Box Receptacle cover plate
  • Mark the spot where the Handy Box is to be mounted. There is no code requirement for mounting height, but 48 inches above the floor is standard industry practice for basement and garage receptacles. Hold the box against the wall and mark two holes diagonally opposite one another for mounting the box.

  • Using the recommended masonry bit size for the plastic anchors being used, drill the mounting holes. Tap the plastic anchors in place with the hammer.

  • Remove one of the knockouts from the end of the Handy Box, install one of the 3/8-inch cable connectors in the box, and secure the box to the wall with the screws provided in the anchor kit.

  • Route the cable from the service panel to the Handy Box. Run the cable through the rafters through ½-inch holes drilled with a spade bit. Drill the holes so that the near edge of the hole is at least 1 ¼ inches from the near edge of the rafters. This minimum distance is required by the National Electrical Code.

  • Insert the end of the cable through the cable connector far enough for it to project from the box 6 to 8 inches. Tighten the two screws on the cable connector securing the cable in place. Secure the cable to the wall using cable straps and plastic wall anchors. Secure the cable within 6 inches of the box and at intervals not exceeding 48 inches thereafter. This spacing is required by code.

  • Using the razor knife, remove the cable's outer jacket, being careful to not damage the insulation on the individual conductors. Remove 1 inch of insulation from the ends of the conductors using the wire strippers.

  • Using the needle nose pliers form loops on the ends of the black white and bare conductors. Place the looped end of the black wire under the brass colored screw on the receptacle in a clockwise direction and tighten the screw. In a like manner, connect the white wire under the silver colored screw and the bare wire under the green or black screw.

  • Wrap the screw terminals with tape and secure the receptacle in the Handy Box. Install the Handy Box receptacle cover.

  • At the service panel, turn off the main circuit breaker and remove the panel's cover. Remove a knockout from the side of the panel box and install the other cable connector.

  • Install the new circuit breaker in the panel. Depending on the type of panel that you are working with, the breaker may simply snap in place or it may be screwed in place on the Buss Bar. Connect the GFCI Breaker's white pigtail wire to the panel's neutral bar. Use caution when working in the panel because although you have turned the main breaker off, the wires bringing power into the panel are still hot.

  • Insert the cable in the panel and remove the outer jacket. Connect the white wire and the black wire to the silver and brass colored screws on the GFCI breaker respectively. Connect the bare conductor to the panel's ground bar.

  • Replace the panel covers and turn on main breaker.

References

  • Photo Credit electrical outlet image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
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