How can I replace an outdoor outlet cover that has a stripped center screw?

  • Do I need to replace the outlet as well?
  • Do I need to replace the box that the outlet is housed in if it is coming out from the wall?
  • Do I need to caulk around where the outlet and the wall will meet?

Here is a picture of the outlet.

outdoor outlet

I have purchased a Bell outdoor In-Use Weatherproof Cover, that I would like to use to replace the existing cover.


I have finished the project, and Bryce's answer was correct. I did end up replacing the outlet with a GFCI Weather/Tamper Resitant outlet for safety sake. Below are two tips and lessons learned.

  • When removing wires from existing outlet, if a firm tug doesn't do it, then try twisting the outlet or wire.
  • Never try to keep turning a screw after the head breaks off, which led to me asking a different question.
  • 1
    When you say stripped, what do you mean? Does the screw simply spin when you turn it and not go in/out? Are you sure it's the correct sized screw? These are typically #6-32 machine screws.
    – Tester101
    Jan 31 '14 at 12:17
  • The gap on the left in the photo appears to be a non-standard box, the outlet may not even be properly anchored. You'll need to pull out the outlet to see what's what. In the end, the outlet must be properly anchored and the new cover must cover all gaps. If not, you will need to address the deficiency somehow.
    – bcworkz
    Jan 31 '14 at 19:56
  • @Tester101 Yes. When I tried to remove the screw, it would spin and not catch to unscrew. I assume this is due to it being stripped. I have no idea if it is the correct size screw or not.
    – Ryan Gates
    Jan 31 '14 at 20:07
  • 1
    @RyanGates If you pull on the cover plate a bit as you turn the screw, does the screw catch?
    – Tester101
    Jan 31 '14 at 20:08
  • @Tester101 Thank you for this tip. I had to press on the outlet while pulling away the cover.
    – Ryan Gates
    Jan 31 '14 at 22:58

This style center screw extends into the outlet: it's possible both parts need replacing. Pull on the cover to add tension when removing the stripped screw.

Turn off the juice before taking the cover off.

Your new 'in service' cover comes with a foam gasket: do not use caulk.

Your existing box is probably fine, but when things are open evaluate if caulking is needed around the box (not the cover, the wall box).

But this is outdoors, right? That outlet should be 'GFCI' protected. And for that I recommend you hire a professional, or find a handy neighbor/friend/relative. Typically a GFCI outlet is placed right in the box, and it uses one large square opening, not the style shown in the picture. Other configurations are possible.

  • Agree with others that this would be an excellent time to put in a GFCI receptacle, if there's not already protected by a GFCI device (another GFCI outlet on the circuit or a GFCI breaker at the panel... use a GFCI tester if you want to verify).
    – Hank
    Jan 31 '14 at 17:09

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