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I replace a sensor (thermostat) on drywall often and I would like to do so without constantly removing the screws, which slowly damages the drywall. Is there a way to put something in/on the wall so I can avoid such damage?

Edit: Thank you all for your feedback and questions. I had hoped to keep things simple so I've accepted the solution that worked best for me. Thanks.

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    What kind of sensor? How often? Can you use a hook or a magnet or velcro or any kind of mounting plate or anything other than screws?
    – jay613
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 23:06
  • Honestly, a magnet is what I was thinking. Long story short, it's the thermostat. Apartment has their own and doesn't know how to run the fan when they replace the furnace filter. So, I swap it out so they don't yell at me
    – Issaaccbb
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 0:31
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    That process doesn't make sense to me. Why would a person run the fan when changing the filter? Why would you swap thermostats? I suspect that there's a much better solution to be had.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 13:46
  • They replace the furnace filter and then run the fan to make sure it works? That's how they always do it. I have only rented, so I assumed that was normal
    – Issaaccbb
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 18:18
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    They don't need to "run the fan" when they replace the filter. You can just tell them that. I don't understand what they are testing? How does their test pass or fail? How do you know if a filter isn't working, by running the fan? Also, why don't you just install a new thermostat with a Fan switch, and leave it there? Why do you have to keep replacing it? Nothing here makes any sense to me.
    – jay613
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 18:28

3 Answers 3

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Given that the sensor is thermostat, it has been my experience that smart thermostats come with tapered anchors. Our buildings started with mercury thermostats and I upgraded them to digital (no wifi) in the 2000s and to wifi 2020: three changes over 40 years. It seems unusual to me that there there would be a legitimate need to swap the thermostat on a regular basis, however, maybe a wood panel behind the sensor, that is pinned to the drywall somehow, is appropriate.

The solution is in the title: avoid regularly using the screws in the drywall. Is there any reason you could not pin both thermostats to drywall?: Use a switch so that only one is powered (active) at a given time? This configuration would literally allow you to switch (electrically) between the two thermostats.

Harper's wooden 'platform' solution is also effective: it was a lot easier to pin a platform with only two Tapcons to a concrete wall. Otherwise I would have had to drill more than two screws into concrete to accommodate the thermostat and its clear protective box.

I have pinned PIR sensors into drywall ceilings with screws and use an anchor or molly to avoid drywall damage. The PIR sensor kit provided the screw anchors and will allow me to replace the sensors in the future:

enter image description here

https://www.acehardware.com/departments/hardware/screws-and-anchors/anchors/5335054

Be sure to select:

  1. the correct size based on the screw
  2. drill bit size to ensure that proper size hole is drilled for the anchor

Isherwood's cited metal anchor is better than the plastic anchor: especially if it truly necessary to swap the thermostats out on a regular basis. However, if this is not necessary than the plastic anchor is good enough

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  • This tapered type are likely to work loose in drywall. They'll eventually spin, so you can't remove the screw.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 13:40
  • I agree, it's not an ideal situation. I've lived at this apartment for years and only recently have they noticed/cared. I love the convenience and will gladly do a little extra work to keep it
    – Issaaccbb
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 18:23
  • @Issaaccbb As a landlord,I would be very unhappy with anyone playing with HVAC wiring: so many things can go wrong EVERY time the thermostat is swapped. Make sure that your landlord is OK with your activities or accept the risk\ consequences if the HVAC suddenly stops working.
    – gatorback
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 20:17
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Attach a piece of "one-by-six" pine or redwood over top of the drywall. However choose your position so the wood is screwing through the drywall into a stud or joist. Then attach your item to the wood.

Pre-drill the screw holes so the wood doesn't split. You can do this even before mounting the wood.

Feel free to prime and paint it also, pref. Before you install it. It will be a long time before you wear out the screws in the wood, and then, just move over 6mm.

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  • This is an excellent idea since I would just be working with wood. I am trying to keep a low profile given the apartment life, so I don't think this will work unfortunately
    – Issaaccbb
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 18:17
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    @Issaaccbb I was unclear. I didn't mean replace the drywall with wood. I meant put the wood on top of the drywall and drill through the drywall into a stud. Because that will make it hold up better and not oval out the holes. Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 6:52
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I like this metal anchor for that application. Once you snug them in place and the wings extend you can zing the screw out repeatedly and the anchor itself stays put. Run it in the first time without anything attached.

enter image description here

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    This is what I had in mind. Something in the wall that can capture the screw for me. Would something like this fall out or once it's in there, it's in there?
    – Issaaccbb
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 18:21
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    These are retained on both faces of the drywall. To remove them I usually grab the front flange with a needle-nose pliers and tear it off, then push the rest through.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 19:16

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