Fixing Socket Back-Boxes

I will shortly be changing the position of my electrical sockets in one of my bedrooms. Currently they are surface mounted sockets, but for neatness I would like to take this opportunity to change them to flush fitting sockets. When I have previously attempted to fix back boxes into walls on previous jobs, I have always had problems getting the box square, and sitting flush in the wall. I have previously only used a drill, hammer and bolster to create the hole for the box. Recently I have seen these Box Sinker Sets that fit to an SDS drill to create a perfect hole and they also are used to channel the wall out for the cable, has anyone any experience of using these? If so, are they worth the investment? (not just for one job), or has anyone got any other tips for me to make the job easier and neater.
Thanks in advance Paul
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I've always done it the hard way. Mark out the position first and get it level using a spirit level then score with a Stanley knife and carefully remove the surface plaster. You can be a bit rougher taking out the undercoat and brickwork (usually composite blocks on the inside these days). The hole can be slightly oversize so you can level the box if necessary. Check along a line between the screw holes. Make sure the box goes in beyond the wall surface.
I stick the box in with Polyfiller and tap in a couple of galvanised nails to hold it while it sets. Channelling is straightforward, but again score the lines and take out the plaster a bit at a time with a sharp chisel. Using a bolster is likely to crack the plaster where you don't want it to crack.
--
Richard Porter
Mail to username ricp at domain minijem.plus.com
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that
has
They are not worth the money for 1 hole and if your wall is brieze block or cinder block the box sinker will rip the wall apart.
Focus do a frame that you screw to the wall. It has about 30 holes in it that you drill through. When you unscrew it from the wall you get the right size & shape hole. You'll need to use a bolster a bit but I find it much easier to use than a box sinker and much cheaper.
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Not worth it with an SDS IMO. I just use a chisel bit in the SDS drill and chop out the whole using that, can do one in few minutes, usually leaves a reasonably neat hole.
Two problem that are likely to occur are not being able to get a fixing because of the nearness of joints to the fixing holes and chunks of brick coming out making it hard to fix flat.
For the former I use a good dollop of No more Nails, push the box firm into the whole, leave to go firm (takes a while) then plaster back in.
For the latter, I use a bit of quicksetting cement (plain mortar will do though. Slap some in whole to make it up, push box into it, leave to set- I usually push a couple of plugs into and then screw into them as well when dry if no other fixing.
--
Chris French, Leeds

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I don't think it's worth the effort trying to make a neat hole - after all the cables will ruin at least one side of it. Just make one big enough and deep enough then make good afterwards. It's easier to make good moderate sized gaps with a one coat plaster than mess about filling small ones with pollyfilla.
If the wall material is crumbly, quick set cement is a good idea to hold the box in place before making good - a chunk of wood laid up against it at 45 degrees ish will hold it until it sets.
--
*If they arrest the Energizer Bunny, would they charge it with battery? *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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"

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sockets.
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Very expensive just for one job. Really meant for a pro who will use it daily. Get a template box from one of the sheds (Box with honeycomb spacing) It will enable you to drill a neat outline of a socket box. For depth just mark up a drill bit with the combined box depth and the intended depth of the back box. I usually make the depth just a little bit more and shove in some plaster prior to fitting the back box. Clear any excess . Saves a lot of time in trying to get an exact depth for each box.
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I bought one. There are two types -- I bought the type which drills a circular hole of the right diameter, and then you use a square box attachment to make it square. The other type has lots of hardened fingers in a share shape, which I've not tried.
I was drilling into house bricks and I worked out that the unit cost about 5 per hole before it was knackered (too blunt to work anymore). It did a speedy job and you get a nice flat back to the box (unless the wall crumbles to pieces). It makes one hell of a mess -- basically the volume of removed material gets turned into dust which is thrown into the air and goes everywhere. The square frame part was completely useless -- it would just jam in the wall. An SDS chisel was much better for finishing off the box corners.
I wouldn't buy another one, unless I had a number of holes to do and time saved was worth 5/box sunk. I doubt it would work on soft material like thermal blocks. You have to drill a pilot hole first, and a shaft on the hole borer has to be located in that hole to keep the borer in the right place. If the pilot hole ends up near a mortar line, it usually breaks through and you get a rather uncontrolled and oversized box hole, and nothing at the back suitable to screw the box into. I would imagine this would be much worse with thermal blocks.
I generally sink boxes by drilling postage stamp type perferation pattern around the hole. I then run the drill in the holes diagonally so it joins them up, and if the wall is soft enough, twist it back straight and then diagonally in the other direction until all the holes join up. Then take the centre out with a hammer and bolster or SDS chisel bit. ~8 times out of 10 I can do this so no filler is needed around the hole and the socket/switch plate completely covers the cut edge. My score for perfect holes (need no filler) with a box sinker was probably lowerer than 3 out of 10.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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If you're looking to not make a mess, then you don't make the wires cross the wall. You come through from the back, or drill from the back of the hole steeply down to come out on the other side under the floor, or maybe you're swapping out a single for a double socket. For data/phone wires, I've used an 8mm 18" bit to drill down from the bottom side of the box to under the floor, and then drill into the wall under the floor to meet it with a 20-25mm bit so you can get your finger in to coax the wires out.
Sure, they'll be times you can't avoid channeling across a wall, but often you can. even if you are channeling across the wall, minimsing the repair work around the socket normally gives a better result unless you are about to decorate the room anyway.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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Of course there are instances where this might be possible, but in general you'll be needing to route two 2 X 2.5 TW&E The chances of making holes for these from the box cut out to under the floor I'd say is near zero. ;-)
--
*Gravity is a myth, the earth sucks *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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In thermal blocks, it's easy. In anything else, it's a lot less likely to work.
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Andrew Gabriel

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I agree with what most others seem to have said - an SDS drill with a chisel attachment is a good way to do it. I recently did three in the bedroom into solid brick without any trouble (there was an incident involving drilling a fixing hole too deep and coming out the other side of an interior wall - but that's another story!) - there was some making good to be done but by the third one I got quite good and this was minimal. Again, as others have said, there will be some making good required where the cable goes so another bit around the box won't matter!
Another thing to bear in mind is that if you make sure the box is sunk deeper than the surface then it doesn't really matter if the box is not entirely flat or level - most boxes alow one or both of the screw holes to move up and down alowing you to level the socket before tightening up - it will also pull flush to the wall so even if the box is all to cock it will probably look okay in the end (unless you really bugger it up!)
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Ideal time to fit that additional socket in there too, then, ;-)
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*Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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London SW

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wrote:

I can. You have obviously never lived in a large 'Victorian' house, with 12 - 15 ft ceilings, half landings are common and can be some distance from other electrical outlets were a vacuum cleaner etc can be plugged into.
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wrote:

ft
You took the words out of my mouth ..., we inherited a socket half-way-up-the stairs too; it's ideal for plugging in the vacuum cleaner and at Christmas time comes into its one for plugging in the hall's fairy-lights.
--

Brian





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It's totally absolutely impossible to have too many sockets.
--
*Am I ambivalent? Well, yes and no.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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"Dave Plowman (News)" wrote | > I recently did three in the bedroom into solid brick without | > any trouble (there was an incident involving drilling a fixing | > hole too deep and coming out the other side of an interior | > wall - but that's another story!) - | Ideal time to fit that additional socket in there too, then, ;-)
Unless you're in a semi. I'm not having Them Next Door using my lectric.
Owain
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Would be handy the other way round - I think I would just disconnect the ring at the CU and loop into theirs

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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.co.uk says...

Make the hole too big (and too deep), whack in some Polyfilla, press the box into position and support it with something until the filler sets. The last bit is the trickiest, so figure out how you're going to do it before you mix the filler :-)
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Why not use quick set mortar? Quicker, cheaper and stronger.
--
*Re-elect nobody

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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