I am replacing my outlets with tamper resistant outlets. After replacement, some of them are crooked in their boxes.

The old outlets were straight enough so I know the boxes are aligned appropriately. I have tried to remove them and get them in more straight, but I haven't had much success.

Any tips on how to best make sure the outlets are flush with the box/plate/wall?

crooked outlet plate off further back

  • You did fully tighten down the mounting screws at top and bottom of the outlet unit, right? And those mountings aren't twisted out of shape? – keshlam Jul 8 '16 at 5:07
  • add a picture with the plate off. – Tyson Jul 8 '16 at 5:19
  • @Tyson added another couple weeks photos. Unfortunately the edges of the box is obscured in this case by some replastering that happened recently. – John Jul 8 '16 at 6:16
  • 6
    I would not snap the ears off, as suggested in an answer, they exist to help you level the device in the wall. I note that your device has a NEMA 5-20 face which means (or should mean) that the outlet is fed with 12 gauge wire. It is had to get 12 gauge wire folded and positioned so that it's not pushing on the device, it's especially hard when the device is a large bulky GFCI. The simple answer is there is a small amount of skill involved, but in reality it's more just experience. There are also device leveling aids available normally used when the ears don't meet the drywall. – Tyson Jul 8 '16 at 13:54
  • 1
    @Tyson: I only added the part about the ear because sometimes they're more hindrance than help, depending on the situation, but you're right - the bulk of the GFCI vs. wires (even if it's #14) is probably a bigger factor. – junkyardsparkle Jul 8 '16 at 15:36

I would hazard a guess that the boxes are not aligned perfectly. This isn't uncommon, and often the metal flanges of the outlet will need to be slightly, deliberately twisted to get the face of the outlet to match the plane of the plate (which will pretty much always conform to the wall). Another factor, as mentioned by @Tyson, is the force of the wires behind the outlet pushing it out of alignment. This can particularly be a problem with 12 guage wire and bulky GFCI outlets.

In extreme cases of vertical box misalignment, you may need to not clamp the outlet flange tight against the box (either leaving it slightly floating, or shim with washers) but in this case it looks like most of the misalignment is horizontal, and can be remedied with a little twisting (but you could maybe back out that top screw a turn or so).

It's also possible to snap off the "ears" on the flanges if any of them are impeding alignment, but it's hard to tell if this is the case from the pictures. Alternately you may need to gouge out a little more plaster under the ears on one side.

|improve this answer|||||

Had the same problem. Fashioned shims out of some left over plastic wall hangers. Shimmed the box as best I could. Trimmed the sheet rock so the switches were clear. Then made sure wires were not in the way and switches were clear. Then shimmed the outlet switches. Also bought a nice face plate and the insulation strip behind it. It works! Took a few times adding shims behind the outlets.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.