Sometimes, when working on receptacles I run into stripped screw holes.
These holes are built-in to the junction box which is made of plastic or
some brownish and brittle material.
I suspect this was caused by someone trying to overcome a too-crowded (or
poorly laid out) junction box by using these screws to force the receptacle
into the box.
What is the solution without replacing the junction box?
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Over time, the plastic outlet boxes can become brittle and break, also inserting
screws that are self tapping or drywall screws will cause the threads to strip
and or crack and often prevent the outlet from seating flush.
I am assuming that the existing box has adequate cubic inch rateing and is not
overfilled.(you can't put one ton in a half ton truck).If the box is undersized,
you will have to remove and replace it.
If the box is not undersized you can try glue, expoxy,tape or a G-clip
threads to strip and or crack and often prevent the outlet from seating
Plastic electrical boxes suck! Not only do the screws strip, but in
case of an overheated connection, the box will melt or burn. Nails can
also be accidentally driven into them, which will short things out. I
dont and wont use them. Metal boxes cost more, but last almost forever.
As far as your problem, take an extra long screw of the proper gauge,
put a nut on it, and screw the nut all the way to the screw's head.
Epoxy the screw in the plastic box, leaving 3/8 or 1/2 inch sticking
out. When the epoxy is dry, saw off the screw head and remove that nut.
Install the outlet and use the nut to attach it. (Same principal as a
stud bolt). You may have to cut or file off more of that "stud" to make
the cover plate fit.
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