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Question DetailsAsked on 1/8/2017

How long does it take to replace an electrical box?

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2 Answers


If you mean an outlet or light box (at normal ceiling height) - just a single device box - commonly about 5-10 minutes (not counting travel time) so would be minimum trip charge if replacing with a "remodel" box - the plastic boxes that mount to the drywall but are not fastened to a stud, which is only suitable for very light lights. A metal box screwed to the stud can take from that to maybe 1/2 hour depending on how much he has to fiddle with the wiring to get it fed into the box and maybe shim the stud to get the box the right place. Replacing a light duty box with a chandelier or fan box (in the ceiling) which has to be braced between studs can take a half hour to hour commonly. These all assuming you mean in a finished wall or ceiling - otherwise if bare studwall probably half the time indicated below, so in almost any case the minimum trip/service charge plus $5-20 in materials.

The above ballparks assumes that the wires are long enough to reasonably feed back into the new box and hook up - all too often they are stapled to the studs or cut so short that you have tie on a string or solder on extensions to run through the new box as it is put in place, then pull the wires through from the back and snip those extensions back off once you are hooking the wiring up to the outlet or light fixture or whatever and can pull the existing wiring tight into the box, or in really bad cases (or ones where the installer cut the light fixture leads too short) splice on pigtails to extend the wires tot he connecting device or outlet - that can add 15 minutes or so to hassle with short wires. Ditto if the box is used as a junction box (more than just one incoming and outgoing wire bundle) to split off to other locations, so you are messing with a number of incoming and outgoing sets of wires.


If you mean a central box or panel - the main outdoor meter or disconnect/main breaker panel or your main breaker panel box - I would allow 2-3 hours for a normal outdoor panel replacement, and that assuming the original electrician did not short the wire length so it is impossible to reconnect a new box that is not identical. For a main distribution panel, with all your breakers, I would allow minimum 4 manhours and probably more like 6, and in cases where the wires coming into it were cut too short can take up to a full day or more - and sometimes you have to use two panels located near each other to enable reuse of the original wires without extending them, which requires junction boxes or panels to do splices like that.

I have seen cases where the wires were cut so short at the panel that it ended up being reused as a distribution panel only, replacing the existing bus bars and breakers with approved individual wire distribution "busses" or putting in a replacement distribution panel with built-in individual circuit bus strips - with individual junction bar connections for both live and neutral wires for each circuit, with the existing wiring coming into the bar (in which each circuit connection is electrically independent of the others, NOT a common bus bar like in breaker boxes) then running new wiring for each circuit going out to a new breaker panel nearby. Messy, and a hassle to get by inspectors in some areas and in some areas they require individual grounds to the new boxes as well rather than bundling the ground into a common heavy-gauge ground lead, but generally legal and workable and can avoid having to track back to the first outlet or lighting box on each circuit and run new, longer wiring from there to get long enough wires to accomplish a neat and proper hookup.

This method is also sometimes used when replacing fuse or breaker panels in houses with knob-and-tube or paper or fabric-insulated wiring which cannot safely be brought into a modearn to-code breaker panel - to convert the leads to modern wiring to enter the breaker panel. In that sort of case typically takes at least the better part of a full day or more, and commonly for two electricians, not just one.


You did not say WHY you want to replace the box - bear in mind if due to a fire in the box damaging it, the wires coming to that box should also be replaced - meaning either junction boxes nearby to splice in new wire to replace the end-burnt wiring (and ALL junction boxes have to be accessible, not buried in walls - though can have decorative cover plates over them) or new wiring runs from the nearest boxes on that ciruit will have to be run - generally a good several hours work to do that if needed. There re very few code jurisdictions or inspectors I have seen that would allow only replacing the damaged insulation on overheated/burnt wiring rather than replacing the wiring itself.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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