I just found an outlet box in my house that seems to have been placed incorrectly, and because of this misplacement the top portion of my outlet is not pressing against the wall when I screw it in, causing it to jiggle within the outlet. Below is a picture of the outlet. enter image description here

Hopefully you can see that when I press the top portion that it goes into the wall. Is there any way to fix this issue without replacing the whole box within the wall? Thank you.


They make specialized plates just for this need.

Erico device leveler

See: https://m.erico.com/category.html?category=R1154&country=us&language=en

Available sometimes at a big box, but always at an electrical supply house.

  • Awesome that is exactly what I need! – Derek D Apr 21 '17 at 2:09

The box is set too far back into the wall. There are specially designed plastic shims that can be placed under the metal tab of the receptacle (between the box and the metal tab) which allow the receptacle to be screwed tight to the box but be in the plane of the wall.

They come in a strip and one tears off as many as needed for the space to be filled. Here you'd use 3 or 4. Fold them accordion style and snap them together. The slip around the screw so you don't hve to completely remove the screw. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ideal-Spacers-25-Pack-172451L/202937111

What is the composition of the wall board/paneling? Is it flammable? The US best practice is that the box front edge should come out to the plane of the room side of the wall and then the receptacle is screwed tight to the box. The cover plate is supposed to seal well enough to starve a nascent fire of oxygen.

In addition, the opening in the paneling is too large on the top edge of the box. The result of these two deficiencies is that a nascent fire in the box could get oxygen from inside the wall cavity. If this were an adjustable position box, I would say crank it out flush with the wall and you'd be OK. (I can't see an adjustment screw, your hand is in the way, but there is probably not one.) As it is I would say you need non-flammable shims which fill the void space above, and, if necessary below, the box. Maybe strips of the paneling material, if it is non-flammable, or just gypsum board. These strips would mean the plastic shims would be unnecessary.

EDITAnother approach is to use a "box extender" or "tile extender", such as https://www.cableorganizer.com/arlington-industries/recessed-electric-box-extender.html or similar product by Carlon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0GRyDJ9ufE With these you might have to use the plastic shims to support the extender.

  • Thanks for all the information! Once I get the time I think I will replace the box and bring it up to code, but for now the shim will have to do – Derek D Apr 21 '17 at 2:09
  • At the same place you get the shims you could get a "tile extender". That will form a barrier between the wiring and the paneling. This will make it as safe as can reasonably be. As in the video you can slip the tile extender over the receptacle without disconnecting the wires. – Jim Stewart Apr 21 '17 at 2:24
  • In the tract house my wife and I have lived in for 39 years in Dallas TX USA most of the boxes for the interior receptacles and switches were set almost flush with the stud and so is 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch too far in. I had to shim out nearly every one in the house. – Jim Stewart Apr 21 '17 at 11:29
  • In the OP's picture one notices that the tab of the receptacle is scored in 3 places. The purpose of this is to allow breaking off the pieces to give more clearance when needed. Also the two "ears" are designed to be separated and used as shims to space out the receptacle. Such shims would be non-flammable and conducting. The latter property is necessary if the box is steel and part of the grounding system. The original best practices accepted a box being misplaced inward by the thickness of two of those tabs, but no further. – Jim Stewart Apr 21 '17 at 11:39

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