I have an outlet that is recessed too much to be able to attach a faceplate.
Any ideas on how to fix it ?
I know I would have to shut off the breaker before doing the repair.
Have a great weekend.
Common problem. Someone put the box too far back, or added a layer of
sheetrock, or ceramic tiles, or something else to make the wall thicker.
The fix is simple. Remove the 2 screws that hold the outlet to the box.
Put some spacers on the screws between the outlet and the box. Small
nuts work fine, stack several of them as needed. You may have to buy
longer screws. They are a common hardware store item. You can also buy
plastic, or metal spacers at most hardware stores, that will fit around
The "correct" way is to add an extender to the box, effectively bringing
the box out to the front of the wall.
However, if the difference is 1/4" or less, I just use small nuts or
washers as you mentioned to bring the outlet flush with the wall.
On 3/5/2016 12:10 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I've seen yellow spacers sold in the electrical
aisle of Home Depot. Plastic folding things.
Agree, longer screws may be needed. I did that
a week or two ago, for a relative.
Christopher A. Young
learn more about Jesus
On 3/5/2016 10:40 AM, email@example.com wrote:
OP hasn't indicated how far off he is. Code allows up to 1/4" recess
behind the surface of the wall. The spacers are less than that.
They're also *wide* and support the entire yoke -- not just a
small "washer" effectively sitting under the screwhead
On Fri, 04 Mar 2016 23:10:43 -0600, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
This solution is totally against code and defeats the purpose of
using a box. DO THE RIGHT THING. Get a certified "box extender" and
install it. Anywhere from $0.87 to $2.00 depending which you buy and
where. The box extender "telescopes" into the box - totally adjustable
- or yopu can buy a "box shim" which is better than nuts but may not
pass inspection in some areas.
, or ceramic tiles, or something else to make the wall thicker.
| >The fix is simple. Remove the 2 screws that hold the outlet to the box.
| >Put some spacers on the screws between the outlet and the box. Small
| >nuts work fine, stack several of them as needed. You may have to buy
| >longer screws. They are a common hardware store item. You can also buy
| >plastic, or metal spacers at most hardware stores, that will fit around
| >a screw.
| This solution is totally against code and defeats the purpose of
| using a box.
Not in MA. I asked an electrician who I work
with about that awhile back because I frequently
run into that situation. His answer was that
extenders are only needed if the wall material
is combustible. (Generally that would mean wood.)
It may be different in Canada. You use a different
| Wgat about the lumber stud the box is fastened to???
| On steel studs you could make a case.
Usually the box is extending 1/2" past the stud.
A typical situation I run into is someone who wants
me to tile a kitchen backsplash. With concrete board
and tile I'm coming out about 1/2", but that's 1/2"
beyond the drywall. The material that a spark could
actually hit is mortar and tile.
|ttcc| dddd| wwwwwwwwww
|___ |____ |_______________________
RRR | electrical box |
RRR | |
t=tile. c=concrete board. d=drywall. w=wood. R=receptacle.
That's legal. To reach the wood, a spark would have
to travel 1/2"+ backward, assuming there's even a
gap between the drywall and box. But I also tape
the receptacle, so don't worry. :)
How far is too far? A box is supposed to be recessed no more than 1/4"
from the face of the wall surface.
*If* it's just a wee bit off, you can try:
Note that the photo is confusing.
To use as shims, each of the "strips" is really FOUR shims. Imagine
cutting each into four equal sized pieces -- each would have a funny
"three-lobed" hole/slot through it!
If you look carefully, there are two tits protruding from one side
and two mating recesses on the other. I.e., you FOLD the piece in
half so the two tits mate with the two recesses. You then end up with
something twice as thick -- with a SLOT in the center (you'll
have to visualize it being folded to see how the 1st and 3rd of the
"lobes" end up stacked on top of each other with the middle lobe
forming a pathway to that void).
You can loosen the mounting screws (top and bottom) for your duplex
outlet/receptacle. Then, slide one of these onto the portion of the
screw that is exposed BEHIND the outlets yoke. Then, tighten.
|I have an outlet that is recessed too much to be able to attach a
There are parts of the answer in several posts
here. You can buy some 6/32 screws that are
longer than normal and just space the outlet
out further, if necessary.
If it's in just a bit too far you can just back
out the existing screws. They're normally about
3/4", so there's some play there.
You can also add an extender, if necessary.
Ideally the tabs will sit on the wall surface so
that you can tighten down the screws. It sounds
like you either have no tabs or the opening is too
big. If the opening is too big you might be
able to build it up with some plaster or durabond,
but that's not critical. The plate screw will prevent
the outlet from pushing in once it's finished, if
you don't use an extender and you can't easily
rebuild the opening.
Where I live, the code requires an extender only
if the wall material is flammable. (Tile, no. Wood
panelling, yes.) The idea is that it's possible for
a spark to happen. (It used to be a big problem
with aluminum wiring.) And if a spark does happen
it shouldn't be able to hit something flammable.
But more to the point is that the contacts should
be wrapped with electrical tape. I rarely see
electricians do that, but if they're wrapped then
there's no risk of sparking or of kids getting their
fingers zapped. Also, if it were already wrapped,
you wouldn't need to shut off the breaker. You
probably won't need to anyway, if you're careful,
but that's up to you.
What I'm saying is that the code *might* require
an extender in your case, if you want to go by the
letter of the law, but if it were me I'd just make sure
to wrap the contacts with electrical tape, then back
out the screws as needed.
On Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 8:45:15 AM UTC-5, Mayayana wrote:
The contacts? You mean the screws that hold the wires to the outlet?
I have never ever seen this done, and can't picture a way to do it other than wrapping tape round and round the whole outlet, which would look incredibly sloppy.
Unless I'm picturing this wrong?
| The contacts? You mean the screws that hold the wires to the outlet?
| I have never ever seen this done, and can't picture a way to do it other
than wrapping tape round and round the whole outlet, which would look
Wrapping around once or twice, yes. It is *slightly*
sloppy if you then need to change the outlet, but
that doesn't happen very often. In the meantime,
the exposed screws and wire and covered with
I don't know if taping is actually required by code.
It's surprisingly difficult to find full code docs. There's
something called the National Electrical Code, which
is maintained by an organization that apparently makes
a lot of money selling access to it. As a result, despite
having the full MA building code docs, there's just one
page in there, basically saying that it's in accord with
the NEC. And the NEC is a privately owned standard.
So while it's required that these things be publicly
available, somehow they're not. (I ran into a similar
situation with the MA plumbing code, but did eventually
find a copy.)
I used to have a very old book that said wire nuts
should always be taped, but I don't generally see
electricians do it. It seems crazy to me. Taping is
easy, quick, and cheap. In some cases with newer
receptacles the hardware is so big that it has to be
carefully centered to avoid touching the side of the
box. In other cases there's enough room for a person
to touch the contact if the plate is off. I consider
that a safety risk. So why not tape it? A plastic plate
held on with a short screw is not protection against
MOST DEFINITELY NOT required by code - and most inspectors I know
would very likely fail you for "poor workmanship" if he found them
taped. If you are not cofident enough of your work to KNOW it won't
short to the box you shouldn't be touching anything electrical
It is no longer required by code, or even recommended.
Why tape a wire nut? To hold it on? If the wire nut is not
mechanically secure enough to stay on by itself, it is not
electrically secure enough to do it's job - tape or no tape.
| Why tape a wire nut? To hold it on?
No. To cover exposed wires. It generally
shouldn't be necessary, but space in boxes
can be very tight. So why not? It's not as
though it might cause a problem.
For years it was thought that aluminum
wire was fine, until it wasn't. It could spark
rather dramatically due to corrosion and
started a lot of house fires. Those fires
could have been prevented with a little tape.
Tape just ensures that no bare wire is
exposed, for touching or for sparking. I
can't imagine why anyone would feel strongly
There should never be ANY exposed wire in a properly installed wire
nut. If tape is required, it is not properly installed, and if it is
taped any competent inspector is going to assume it is NOT properly
Aluminum wire is still perfectly safe IF PROPERLY INSTALLED.
No they could not. Tape does not make the connection electrically
solid. Any fires caused by aluminum wire and/or poor workmanship
installing it were not from the wire coming off and contacting ground
and would NOT be prevented by taping the connection.
Because it can conseal bad workmanship but cannot correct it or
mitigate damage resulting from said poor workmanship.
It's a HACK.
| Aluminum wire is still perfectly safe IF PROPERLY INSTALLED.
Maybe in Canada. In the US it's been banned
since, I think, the 70s, except for specific uses
like stove "pigtail" connectors. It caused a lot of
fires. It's not allowed for general use in house
wiring because it corrodes and then arcs. It doesn't
matter if it's installed properly. That's why it's
banned. The corrosion is the problem, not the
installation. Though of course if you want to use
it in your house, I'd use tape over receptacle
terminals if I were you. :)
| > Those fires
| >could have been prevented with a little tape.
| No they could not. Tape does not make the connection electrically
| solid. Any fires caused by aluminum wire and/or poor workmanship
| installing it were not from the wire coming off and contacting ground
| and would NOT be prevented by taping the connection.
I've seen them in action -- outlets where there's
arcing because of extreme corrosion. Your missing
the point repeatedly because you're stuck on the
notion you cooked up that I'm advocating connecting
wires with tape. If you'd just read what people write
instead of competing all the time it would make the
discussion clearer and more brief.
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