You just can’t have enough of some things in life – and extra outlets in your home is one of them!
When you need extra outlets in your house, the easiest fix is to get an extension cord (and/or a power strip) and plug it into the nearest outlet.
However, extension cords come with their own cons.
For one, they can look unsightly crawling across your floor where anyone can trip on them, and if you have kids or pets at home, you’ll need to be extra vigilant to keep them away from it.
On top of that, they come with potential dangerous fire hazards.
There are a number of reasons why a homeowner might want extra outlets. You might have bought a new portable appliance and have no outlet near the area where you want to use it.
Or, perhaps, you need an extra outlet near your workstation to charge your phone, laptop and power other devices.
Luckily, you can easily add an outlet to an existing circuit, without having to completely tear open your wall.
Whether you need to add an outlet indoors or outdoors, I will show you how to wire an outlet from another outlet. This includes the process of tapping into an existing outlet.
Keep reading to learn how!
Wiring a New Outlet from an Existing Outlet
Extending an electrical outlet is a multi-step process, but with the right equipment and guidance, it’s actually quite easy.
Just make sure you’re wearing protective equipment like gloves and safety glasses before you start – there’s no such thing as being too protected!
As another important safety precaution, turn off the power to the circuit breaker that connects to the outlet before you start anything.
Also, keep a voltage tester handy to test the wires before you handle them.
Here’s how to wire an outlet from another outlet indoors:
Step 1: Choosing the Optimal Outlet Box
Your first step will be to choose an outlet from which you’ll wire the new outlet.
Ideally, this should be one that’s directly, or almost directly, on the other side of the wall where the new outlet will be located.
You can also choose an outlet that’s situated on the same side of the wall where you want to fix the new outlet.
A non-insulated, empty wall is ideal as this will make it easier for you to add the new outlet to the existing circuit.
Step 2: Remove the Wires and the Box
Remove the screws holding the outlet in place to take it out so you can have a better view of the box of wires behind it.
Before removing the wires, take note of which wire attaches to which screw so that you don’t get confused later on.
As a guide, the black wire will usually attach to the brass screws while the ground wire will connect to the green screw.
Next, remove the old box that houses the wires by cutting the nails which secure the box to the wall.
While cutting the nails, avoid cutting the wires coming into the box. Damaging these wires will most definitely require a visit from the electrician!
When removing the box from the wall, make sure the wires seamlessly come out – don’t forcefully yank them out.
Step 3: Cut a Hole for the New Outlet
After you’ve chosen the optimal location for your new outlet, it’s time to cut a hole for it.
While cutting, be sure not to make the hole too large. You want the outlet box to securely hold on to the wall when it’s fixed, and not fall inside the wall.
If you’ve decided to locate your new outlet on the other side of the wall where the old outlet lies, make sure they aren’t directly back to back with each other as this could lead to crowding and not enough space for the two boxes.
Step 4: Extend the New Wire into the Wall
Push the cable inside the wall through the old outlet’s hole. Use enough cable so you can easily reach the new box.
It’ll help to have an extra foot more of cable than you think you’ll need as you can always cut the extra off later on.
If you have a 15-ampere circuit, use a 14-gauge wire.
Step 5: Rewiring the Old Outlet
Once the new cable is inside, you can rewire the existing outlet wires to the new cable. First, strip around 8-10 inches of the sheathing from the new wire bundle.
Insert the new cable inside the box while doubling over the excess wires to keep it in place.
After stripping the insulation off the ends of each wire, connect the wires from the new cable to the correct screws (this is where the earlier exercise of noting down the position helps!)
Since you’re using a new cable, it’s better to opt for new wire connectors as well.
Step 6: Fish Out the New Cable from the New Outlet Hole
Here’s where things can get a bit tricky.
You can use an electrical fish rod or fish tape to hook to fish out the new cable from the newly cut-out hole in your wall. Once you grasp it, pull it out of the opening.
When this is done, the hard part is over. All that’s left is to wire the new outlet.
Example of highly useful fish tape you can buy here
Step 7: Wiring Your New Electrical Outlet
Once you’ve fished out the cable from the new hole, strip around 6 to 9 inches of the sheathing and insert the cable into the new box.
Mount this box on the wall where your new hole is located.
Next, connect the new wires to the new outlet in the same way you did for the old outlet. Be sure to connect the wires correctly.
After you’re done wiring the new outlet, make sure that the cable sheath is secured inside the box.
Considerations When Wiring from an Existing Outlet
When to Use GFCI Outlets
If you notice that your old outlet has no ground wire, replace this outlet with a GFCI type outlet.
For the uninitiated, GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter.
It’s a special type of circuit breaker outlet that shuts off the power to an outlet when it detects an electrical fault.
Installing a GFCI outlet will help protect the new outlet as well since they’re both on the same circuit.
Tapping into an Indoor Outlet When Adding an Outdoor Outlet
If you plan to add an outdoor outlet by extending power from an interior one, choosing an interior outlet that shares the stud bay will save you time and effort.
Can You Add an Electrical Outlet from an Existing Light Switch?
Yes, you can. The process of installing an electrical outlet from a light switch is quite similar to what we’ve described in this article.
However, you’ll need to distinguish between the live circuit hot wire and the other hot wire connected to the switch inside the switch box.
Do this after turning off the power to the switch box and testing both wires with a voltage tester.
Once you know which one is which, turn off the circuit breaker, splice the live wire, and continue the wiring process as mentioned above.
How to Add an Outlet in the Middle of the Run?
If you’re thinking of adding an outlet in the middle of the run, you’ll need to focus on wiring.
Some common methods of doing this are by using the screws in the outlet to extend the circuit wires to the next outlet.
You can also “pigtail” the connection or splice the line and load wires with a third short wire to the receptacle.
In addition, prepare to do some carpentry work if you plan on having the new wire run through wall studs.
Either way, you’ll want to do this with care and ensure each outlet works – otherwise you can have a situation where the whole wall of outlets isn’t working because one isn’t wiring correctly or tightly enough.
And that’s how it’s done! Whether you want to install a new outlet so you can plug in a new appliance, or you just need to know how to add more outlets to a room, it’s quite simple to add an outlet to an existing circuit.
While working with electrical wirings, always make sure to wear protective gear and to turn off the circuit breaker.
If you’re not confident about doing it yourself or lose your nerve halfway through the project, don’t hesitate to consult a professional so you can avoid unnecessary risks which may increase your cost and effort.
I hope this article was helpful for you!