Make a custom-depth spacer
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Photo 1: Turn off breaker
Turn off the power at the main panel and remove the
broken cover plate. The drywall is often broken behind
the outlet ears, leaving them unsupported.
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Photo 2: Make a coil
Strip the exterior sheathing
off a 12-in. scrap of 12- or
14-gauge electrical cable and
remove one of the individual wires.
Twist the wire into a tight coil with
a needle-nose pliers.
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Photo 3: Snip to size
Press the coiled end tight
to the outlet-mounting screw
hole. Snip the coil so it
extends just past the wall; the insulation
will compress slightly when
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Photo 4: Tighten down
Slide the coil spacer over
the outlet-mounting screw.
Screw the outlet down until
the outlet ears are flush to the wall.
A loose outlet pushes in every time you insert a
plug. Often it happens because the cutout
around the outlet box is too big. When the drywall
is taped, gaps around the electrical boxes are filled
with mud, which supports the outlet ears. In a
heavily used outlet, this mud breaks loose, leaving
the outlet ears unsupported. Eventually the cover
plate cracks. A scrap of 12- or 14-gauge electrical
wire and a few common tools are all you'll need to
lock that outlet down tight.
Start by shutting off the power to the outlet
(Photo 1). Photos 2 and 3 show how to convert
scrap electrical wire into a coiled spacer, which will
bridge the gap between the outlet and the electrical
box. Once the spacer is completed, install it
between the outlet and electrical box as shown in
Photo 4. Note: If the face of the box isn't flush with
a wood or combustible-material wall, or the box is
more than 1/4 in. behind a drywall wall, you must
add a box extender.
Shut off power to the outlet at the main panel, then check the wires with a voltage tester to make sure.