How to remove a stud wall with electrics
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The DIY Fix is not written by professional electricians. If you don’t have any personal experience with electrics, you should always hire an electrician. Electricity is extremely dangerous and can result in electric shocks and even death.
Removing a standard stud wall is a relatively simple task. However, when you remove a wall with electric sockets and switches, you will need to take additional precautions. This is to ensure you don’t electrocute yourself (or anyone else).
The entire process can be done in the following order:
- Cut the power
- Remove architrave and skirting
- Remove the doors
- Take out the door casing
- Unscrew the face plates from switches and sockets.
- Pull the plasterboard (drywall) off
- Unscrew backboxes
- Make wires safe
- Remove individual noggins and studs
- Unscrew any side studs connected to the walls
- And unscrew the top plate and base plate and remove
This can usually be done with minimal damage to the surrounding area. Providing you are careful around the wires; they shouldn’t really make the job any more difficult.
Depending on how you intend to use the wires going forward, will dictate how your electrician deals with them once the wall is removed.
Removing a stud wall with electrics (more detail)
In this section, we will go through the entire process in a little more detail. Including tools that can be used throughout the process.
Cutting the power and testing.
Obviously, if there is no electricity, then there is no danger of electrocution. Therefore, you need to ensure that the power is cut off to the wall you are removing.
If you are in any doubt whatsoever, you should speak with a competent electrician to turn off the power for you.
If you are doing it yourself, the first thing you should do, is check the switches and sockets. Flick the light switches to make sure the lights turn on and off (ensure the bulbs are working) and test the sockets with some kind of appliance that can be plugged in. This will mean you know that everything is currently live and working.
To cut the power, you will need to access the properties distribution board (fuse box). This can usually be found under the stairs, or by the front door. Here you can turn off the power.
You could use the main isolator switch. However, this will cut off electricity to the whole property. Alternatively, you can flick the individual circuit breaker switches. These will usually be labelled with the areas they are providing power too.
Once you have turned off electricity to the sockets and switches in your stud wall, you can test them again. Check the light switches, and again plug something in to check the sockets. If you have turned off the electric correctly, nothing should be working anymore.
Once this is done, you are ready to start dismantling your wall.
Remove skirting, architrave, doors, and casings
Before you start removing the actual wall, there are other fixtures that will need removing first. You can start by removing the skirting and architrave. How carefully you remove them, will depend on whether you intend to use them again.
If you won’t be reusing them, you can simply use a crowbar and a hammer to prize them off the wall. On the other hand, if you intend to reuse them, you can learn how to remove skirting without causing damage here.
The doors are pretty straight forward. All you need to do here is unscrew the hinges from the door casing. You can do this with a cordless drill, or even a manual screwdriver.
Finally you will need to remove the door casing. As a general rule, you won’t be able to see the screw heads. Therefore, you can use a hand saw to cut the casing and pull it out in sections. Again, you should use your crowbar and hammer to prize the casing away from the underlying studwork.
Unscrew electrical face plates and remove plasterboards
Before you start pulling off the plasterboards, you should first unscrew all the face plates from the sockets and switches. This will allow the plasterboard to come off around the backboxes. Removing the face-plates is a very simple process. There are usually just two screws, and the fronts will come straight off.
Pulling the plasterboard off is relatively simple. You just need to get the board going, then they pull off through the screws quite easily. The easiest way is to just hammer a hole in the board and start pulling it off by hand.
When doing this job, you should wear the appropriate PPE (gloves, goggles, dust mask). Its not an extremely messy job. However, there is dust, as well as the potential to injure your hands, and get debris in your eyes, so better safe than sorry.
Also, if there is insulation such as rockwool, this could create additional risk of breathing in fibres, and getting them in your eyes.
Remove back boxes and make wires safe
Once all of your plasterboard is removed, you will be left with your exposed stud wall. You should also be able to see the wires running through the wall into the backboxes.
Your backboxes will usually be fixed to something like a noggin on edge. At this point you can unscrew them and remove the wires.
If you want to turn the power back on, you will need to cover the wires properly, so they are safe. This could be done with some kind of junction box. If you don’t know how to do this, you need to speak with an electrician before the electric is turned back on.
Take out your stud wall
Your final job is to remove the stud wall. This is very simple, and you can usually do it with a hammer (lump hammer would be even better) and a cordless or manual screwdriver.
You can start by removing the noggins, to do this, simply hit at the edge hard with your hammer. These will come out pretty easily. If you are struggling, you can cut them with a hand saw or reciprocating saw.
Next you can remove all the uprights (studs). To do this, simply hit hard at the bottom with your lump hammer. This should be enough to pull out the fixings from the bottom of the stud. Next, lift the stud towards you, twist and pull the top fixings out. This is usually pretty easy.
If you are struggling to knock studs out with a hammer, you can make an angled cut in the middle of the stud. This will enable you to remove the stud in two sections
Once all the internal studs are removed, you will be left with studs fixed to surrounding walls and the top and base plate. In most cases, these will be screwed, meaning they can simply be unscrewed to remove. If the top and bottom plate have been nailed, you will need to use a crowbar.
To avoid damaging the surface its fixed too, use a piece of wood to push against with your crowbar.
Once this is done, your wall will be completely removed, and you will just have the safely isolated electrical wires remaining.
How you deal with these wires, will depend on their use in the future. For this, you should speak with a qualified electrician, in order to determine the best course of action.
Removing a stud wall with electrics is not really that difficult. However, it is very important to remember that electricity is dangerous. Therefore, ensuring the electric is turned off is an essential step.
It is a similar process to removing a wall without electrics. The only difference is you need to make sure the power to the wall is turned off. You will also need to follow a few extra steps, to remove the sockets and switches, as well as making the exposed wires safe.
If in doubt, you should always speak with a professional electrician. Obviously, electricity is dangerous, so a professional turning off the power can give you piece of mind. Plus, you probably need them to deal with the wires once the wall is removed anyway.