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There's a nut that holds the electrical box in at the bottom right. When I screw in the outlet, that nut blocks it from going all the way in. It's also making it difficult to put a cover on.

What could I do with the nut to solve this? I'm thinking I could relocate it but I'm not sure where I could relocate it to.

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    Take it out and replace it with a screw with a flatter head. And while you're about it add some more screws to hold the box more securely. – brhans Jan 11 '17 at 15:45
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The lower right hand "ear" on the receptacle can be broken off. It is scored for just that purpose. You bend it back and forth with pliers and it breaks off. The screw will then not prevent the receptacle from fitting flush. If the screw nevertheless interferes with the cover plate fitting flush, you could replace the screw with one which has a lower head.

In fact all 4 of the ears could be removed and the receptacle screwed hard to the metal box. Some sources say that the purpose of those ears is to provide spacer washers in case the box is too far into the wall. So if you want try one or two of them between each mounting tab and the metal box, you could. But this box would appear to be in the plane of the wall and you would save them for later use.

http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/receptacles-mounting-ears-what-purpose-4959/

  • Given that this is a metal box and the ground wire is clipped to the box on the same side as the hot terminal on the receptacle it would be prudent to wrap insulating electrical tape (several turns) around the receptacle to cover the screw terminals. – Jim Stewart Jan 11 '17 at 16:21
  • The purpose of the ears is to hold it flush against drywall or other surface if it is high compared to the electrical box -- which happens a lot. In that case, since the screws do not clamp the metal yoke of the receptacle hard against the box, you cannot rely on the metal box-yoke connection for grounding, and must hardwire a ground. Likewise here due to that odd bit of insulating paper. – Harper Jan 11 '17 at 18:27
  • @Harper, the odd bit of insulating paper is just to keep the screw from falling off. The head of the screw is in electrical contact with the metal tab on the receptacle and is in contact with the box via the threads. But some better quality receptacles have a paper keeper on one end but a metal wire keeper on the other. With this device one could start the screws and tear off the paper on one end, say the bottom screw. The best practice would be to detach all 4 ears and have the receptacle firmly attached to the box mechanically and electrically. – Jim Stewart Jan 11 '17 at 19:03
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    Nope, code does not permit grounding via screw heads or threads. Considering the surface contact area I am not surprised. – Harper Jan 11 '17 at 21:50
  • So if you don't have a ground wire to the receptacle and the box is back into the wall at all, then you would have to break off all 4 ears and tear off the paper so the tab of the receptacle would make contact over a broad area. If the box was back a little, you would use the 4 ears as conducting spacers between the receptacle and the box? – Jim Stewart Jan 12 '17 at 2:50

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