Part of my job as a licensed home inspector is to inspect all the visual components of the electrical system during a home inspection and report the defects. Two very common defects that are sometimes found multiple times in a home are open or missing junction boxes. Whether the junction box is missing or just open, both defects are violations of both the electrical code and fire code. For obvious reasons an open or missing junction box is also an issue that an insurance company will require to be corrected when reported on a 4 point inspection form. The good news is that most of the time correcting an open junction box or installing a proper junction box is relatively easy but we will discuss that in more detail below.
What is a junction box?
A junction box is an approved enclosure in which wiring splices are allowed to be made or terminated. Click HERE to see a variety of them. This simple item plays a big part in electrical and fire safety for the building. Loose, deteriorated, or corroded wire connections are a potential fire starter as arcing can and will occur. This is why placing all wire splices and connections in a fire-resistant enclosure and properly securing the wiring to and around the junction box is required. Junction boxes must be mounted securely to the building or home and must remain accessible. They cannot be closed up in walls or in floors under finish material. They must be closed with a proper lid and wires running to the box must be secured properly to the box and within 12 in of the box. If the box is metal, proper clamps need to be used in the knockouts of the box to protect the wiring from the sharp metal edges. Junction boxes should be properly sized for the number and size of the conductors that will be in them.
Correcting an Open or Missing Junction box
A qualified and licensed electrician should always be used for anything electrical. Many times correcting an open junction box is as easy as just securing the proper lid to it. Ironically the proper lid is often close by or still partially attached to the junction box. If a wire is improperly terminated, an electrician can easily install a junction box nearby, properly securing and enclosing the wire. If the junction box is missing altogether or if the junction box is undersized, it will be a little more time consuming for an electrician to correct. Accessibility will play a big role in the expense of the repair as some the open or missing junction boxes I find can be very difficult to get to.