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I had new outlets installed by my apartment maintenance and I found out one of them was slightly wiggling. I removed the metal cover and tighten the top and bottom screw(tighten enough not to wiggle). And I put back the cover and tighten the screw in the middle. When a repair guy installed it I noticed that the middle of faceplate bent(dent?)a little because of the screw. And when I put it back I tried not to screw too hard. Is it ok like this in the picture? I loosen the screw in the middle so it’s not that tight. I’m just worried if this screw breaks the outlet inside and causes electric shocks or fire or something.enter image description here

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In the ideal setup (pun intended), you would have spacers such as these from Ideal:

Ideal receptacle spacers

The basic problem is that often boxes are not installed in the correct position for drywall or other wall materials or, after many years of (ab)use, the box is pushed back a little bit. As long as the box is still reasonably secure, the top and bottom screws will hold the receptacle properly (which you tightened, which was the right thing to do). The problem is that because the receptacle ends up a little farther back into the wall than it should be, if the cover plate is screwed in tightly (the middle screw on standard receptacles, top and bottom on Decora) then it can't lie flush with the wall surface around the edges and it has to bend.

The good news is that (a) your situation seems relatively minor (small enough that maintenance is likely to complain if you make them spend 15 minutes fixing it) and (b) relatively safe because you have a metal faceplate. The metal faceplate is key because it does bend/dent to conform to the surface. A plastic faceplate (much more common these days, at least in my area) will crack instead and then it is unsafe.

Because this is a rental apartment, you are not supposed to do electrical work yourself, and installing spacers requires:

  • Turn off breaker
  • Unscrew and remove receptacle (not the wires, just pull it out of the box)
  • Install spacers
  • Screw in receptacle
  • Turn breaker on and test

All of which will take 15 minutes, less for a professional who has done this many times. But once work in a rental involves turning off a breaker (except in an emergency, of course - e.g., any burning, sparking, etc. from a hardwired appliance or from a receptacle or switch - turn off the breaker and then call maintenance) you should not be doing it yourself for liability reasons.

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The cover is protection so little fingers and such don't get to the outlet. It is most likely plastic and not metal.

It is not uncommon for an outlet to be a bit loose. you 'fix' of tightening the mounting screws is correct.

There is nothing to worry about. All is normal for most any type of north american socket.

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  • This cover is metal so the middle is a bit dent when screwing. The screw is connected to the outlet inside the middle so I worry if I tighten too much could crack the inside of outlet itself.
    – Hijiki
    Dec 27, 2023 at 14:51
  • Not likely...no need to worry.
    – RMDman
    Dec 27, 2023 at 23:48

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