I was replacing old outlet in my house and came across an outlet that is screwed directly into the studs. Also the stud and the junction box were cut to fit the outlet. The new outlet is too big to fit in this space. I am afraid to put a new outlet in here as it could be a fire risk.

What should I do with this? Should i cap off the wires and put a blank wall plate? Or is there some way I can salvage this and put an outlet in here.

outlet enclosure

There is a wall (fireplace) to the left and a sliding glass door an inch or so to the right.

  • why is it bulky? USB? GFCI? Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 21:46
  • 14
    That is probably the weirdest install I have ever seen.
    – bishop
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 5:20
  • 6
    Can you provide a zoomed out picture which shows the obstacles on the left and right sides? It's really annoying to dig through comments to figure out your limitations. If you can live without the outlet then cap off the wires and put a blank plate over it.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 14:12
  • How much room is there between that corner and the edge of the fireplace? There might be room to re-locate the outlet to the wall on the left.
    – bta
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 23:43

7 Answers 7


It looks like you are up against a corner on the left, which means you can't simply shift the outlet into the box location. In a perfect world you have enough cable to move the box to the other side of that stud. You would then simply repair your drywall. (We've since learned that there's a door to the right, just out of frame, making this impossible.)

Otherwise I would find a shallow box and cut the stud back so that the box can sit partially or completely in front of it. Since you are right near a corner you can safely take a third to a half of the stud out without concern. It may not strictly meet code, but experience tells me it won't be a problem.

A good way to do that is with a nice sharp spade bit of 1 inch or so. Just make a series of straight-in bores in a grid pattern to cut the wood away. Mark your depth on the side of the stud before hand so you know how deep to go.

  • 2
    perhaps the height of the box is low enough that locating it on the other side of the stud is a win-win if they locate the box HIGHER *(since the run seems fed from above), and there would be enough wire to do it. Perhaps this will "look good" and avoid the stud.
    – noybman
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 23:44
  • Maybe, but a comment on another answer indicates that there's a door (presumably with casing) to the right. I suspect that the stud would have to be notched.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 13:47
  • If there is room for the electrical box behind the drywall or as suggested putting a plate on it, there is room to put the outlet on the box. By the US Electrical code, you have to have at least a plate cover on an electrical connection in the wall (e.g. where wires are spliced together).
    – William
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:32
  • 1
    This is what I ended up doing. The stud is an exterior 2x6. I notched it out a little more to fit a shallow box. So it ended up not being that much of the stud percentage wise.
    – mkuce23
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 3:44
  • 1
    Couldn't understand the layout from the photo very well - a 2x6 with a shallow box would work well. I just don't understand how they could get a box in there behind a corner.
    – William
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 19:22

Use a surface mount electrical box:

enter image description here

  • 2
    If you do this, you need to be careful how you do it to make sure the blue box in the wall is still accessible unless you can pull the entire connection into the surface mount. You couldn't for example wire nut some extender wires in the blue box and pull those into the surface mount and leave the blue box partially covered and hidden.
    – William
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:40
  • 1
    @William 100% correct. But I see a good length of wire outside the wall so this should work. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:57

To add to this answer, I wouldn't just add a surface mount box, I would

  1. Cut open the wall open a bit more to remove the wire from the box (it might be stapled inside the wall)
  2. Fully patch and paint the wall
  3. Drill a hole in the ceiling directly above
  4. Surface mount conduit with the existing wire
  5. Mount your surface box

Why so much effort? If they cut this many corners in mounting the outlet, I would want to know there's nothing else hidden in that wall that could come back to bite you (or burn your house down). Surface mount can be aesthetic, but it also affords you peace-of-mind in knowing it's done right.


Okay - that is absolutely not to code and a fire/shock hazard. You show an electrical box that is partially covered over by plaster/drywall.

To fix, just cut the drywall off in front of the outlet 1-gang electrical box (the blue box), pop an extender on it to bring it flush with the surface of the drywall (for example), and install the outlet back normally.

By US Electrical code, any place you are connecting wires, you have to have access to that in the wall (e.g. at least a plate covering it, if you have room for a plate - you have room for an outlet). The connection also has to be contained in the box - so the way it's partially covered by drywall is not to code and a fire hazard.

  • 2
    The primary issue, I think, is that a plate won't fit with the wall corner so close. It appears that the box itself would be aligned with the face of the adjacent drywall, or even slightly behind it. The box needs to be moved, as I indicated in my answer.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:42
  • Cutting the drywall won't work. The sheets perpendicular to this wall are sitting squarely in front of the edge of the box. You'd have to have a decent sized cut into that wall as well to make it work as-is.
    – Machavity
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 17:13
  • Yes - I couldn't tell from the photo that the corner was right on top of the box - I'm still not sure how anyone can read that photo and glean that or how you can have a corner without a stud to back it?
    – William
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 19:25

Thinking a bit outside the box, this is between a corner and a fireplace, so would you be able to add some fixed permanent or built-in shelving in this little corner?

That way you could bring the new socket out and install it permanently in the framing for your new shelf ?

https://www.ana-white.com/sites/default/files/3154816233_1349656437.jpg but with the power socket in the white backplate?

Or if that's a bit ambitious, Ikea have kitset corner shelves called LILLÅNGEN which might fit nicely with a bit of finangling. https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/90211041/ From above ikea link, for linkrot prevention
Something short could even float off the floor, meaning it only needs to be secured to the stud (which you've found) and flush with the wall on both sides. Then bring the wire through a convenient hole, and mount your power sockets.

  • 3
    We've learned that there's a door to the right, just out of frame. That means there wouldn't be room for this.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 13:49

If you are willing to do a little wall repair, this should be easy to correct, at least as far as we can see. Cut the wall in front of the box and patch the wall over the stud.

Depending on what exact butchery is revealed, you might need a new box, you might not. If you do, just put one in, and patch the wall as needed. Planning to might well be the best bet here, just from seeing the visible-now butchery.

  • 4
    Looks like we're up against a corner on the left. I'm not sure how you are suggesting this be done.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 21:26
  • Correct, there is a wall (fireplace) to the left and a sliding glass door an inch or so to the right.
    – mkuce23
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 21:28

I'd be inclined to saw a notch in the stud and install a proper box. Between a doorway and a corner the stud is not apt to be bearing much weight and can stand to have a notch for a shallow box cut out.

  • 1
    Possibly okay - but is the stud at a joint between drywall? Are you sure it's not carrying load? From the photo - there is already room for the blue electrical box in the wall - another photo from further away would be really helpful to know the space issues. It looks like someone didn't know to attach the blue box 1/2 inch proud of the stud so it would be flush with the drywall and then just mucked up the job from there. I've also flipped a box from one side of the wall to another (if it's an interior wall and accessible from the other side).
    – William
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:47
  • 1
    @William - If there's a corner to the left and a door to the right then it's not carrying much load.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 20:22

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