If you have been following my story, you know that my new mantra is "Identify issues and find ways to address them". With this in mind, I decided that I would start with a small, simple job to kick off the bathroom renovation - I would install an additional receptacle.
At this point, I was ready to removed the line cable from the existing outlet, so that I could add a load branch for the downstream receptacle. When I removed the outlet from the box, I discovered that there was already a load wire leaving the box! Since my husband and I had mapped all the circuits in the house, and determined that this was the only device on the circuit, we were, needless to say, rather confused.
There were only two knockouts in the existing box. One was occupied by the line cable and one by by the mystery load cable. I sighed heavily (i.e., swore loudly), and determined that I would have to replace the existing box with one that had more knockouts, since I needed to add a second load branch. Of course, this was a "new work" box, which means it was nailed to the stub behind the drywall. Though I have since learned that you can use a reciprocating saw to cut through the nails and release the box, I didn't know that at the time, and set to work trying to carefully pry the box out. I was as careful as I could be, yet I still damaged the drywall below the box. However, once the box was out, I could at least examine the mystery cable.
I started pulling the three lengths of Romex into one of those blue "old work" boxes, and very quickly began to get frustrated. First of all, the tabs in the box were to tight and inflexible. I understand that these tabs are supposed to hold the cable in place, but instead they stripped the covering off the cable. Once I got the cables pulled into the box, I tried to install the box in the wall and found that, due to the drywall damage, the box would not stay in the wall securely. The lower ear did not extend down far enough to hold the box in place. Since I was working right next to a stud, I assumed that I just needed some sort of "old work" box that could be attached to the stud.
After a trip to both Home Depot and Lowe's, I discovered that "old work" boxes that attached to the stud are not really a "thing". One of my friends recommended a small hardware store in town that caters to historic homes. We stopped by and were told by the 13-year-old sales clerk (okay, maybe he was 17), that nothing like that exists. He suggested we just drill some holes through the side of one of the blue plastic "old work" boxes and attach it with screws to the stud. I pointed out that having exposed metal screw heads inside the receptacle box violated all kinds of codes. He then looked me up and down, like I hadn't spoken, and asked me if I owned a drill. At that point, my husband dragged me out of the store.
For anyone who knows me, the surest way to light a fire under me is to tell me that something can't be done or does not exist. So I hit the internet, and guess what I found?
Allied Moulding Slider Box
(Arlington makes a similar model called One Box.) The screws can be loosened to slide the box forward or backward to adjust the installation depth, then tightened to anchor the box into the stud. The screws recess into the "slider" plate, so they will not abrade the wires within the box.
So I headed to a local electrical supply store called Harris Electric, which is a branch of Border States. They were able to order a half dozen of the Slider boxes for me. The boxes arrived within a couple of days and I was able to continue with the receptacle installation.