Outlet Depth

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by kermtfrg, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. kermtfrg

    kermtfrg New Member

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    5
    In two of the bedrooms in our house we had paneling on the walls. The paneling was directly on the drywall. We've removed the paneling and re-finished the drywall. The outlets and light switches now stick out too far because the boxes were installed accounting for the paneling. I cut out a piece of 1/4" oak to fit around the box and put the cover plate on that and it solved the problem but looks terrible.

    Does anyone have any suggestions of something I can buy that could go around the box that would look better than what I have done?
  2. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    How far out do they project?
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    ?

    If you read the posting, it appears to be 1/4" since that is the thickness of the filler she used.
  4. kermtfrg

    kermtfrg New Member

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    Yes, they are about 1/4" out too far.
  5. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    They make a template that will work but I wouldn't know where to tell you to find them.
    Either way it will look about the same.
  6. kermtfrg

    kermtfrg New Member

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    Any idea what they are called or what I would search for?
  7. rdtompki

    rdtompki New Member

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    Are these plastic boxes? If so you could trim off 1/4" and I would think you would still have enough depth in the threaded boss to capture the outlet screws. Might have to cut something off these screws. Now this might not be technically legal since I'm sure there is no provision in the electrical code for modifying a listed device.

    You could rip the boxes out (carefully). The grey boxes that screw into the stud are great for rework and can be set easily at the correct depth. This would be the cleanest solution and much stronger than using the old-style rework boxes.

    Rick
  8. kermtfrg

    kermtfrg New Member

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    Unfortunately, they are metal boxes that are nailed into the studs. I've thought about ripping them out but this won't be easy and will destroy the walls.
  9. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    I had identical problems all over the house. In most cases we just replaced the drywall and set new boxes at the correct depth. However, I did rip out a half-dozen or so boxes, both plastic and steel, and installed new ones in their place. Oddly, the easiest boxes to replace were the steel ones, and I was blessed by the original electrician, who in many cases didn't staple the wires up tight as required by Code.

    Your best friends are a Sawzall, a fine-blade jigsaw, and someone who's good at patching drywall. Keep in mind that's it's just as easy to patch a big hole as a little hole, so you can just saw out a big chunk of drywall from around the box to allow easy access to the wires if you need to. Be careful not to cut wires. Also remember that you can rip out the back of the wall and work from that side if you want to save your newly-finished wall(s).

    You should have waited to refinish the drywall until all this was done, of course...
  10. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    Location:
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    You can buy and install "old work" boxes that have little wings that lock to the drywall and aren't nailed to the stud.

    The following is a description of how to fix what you have, but it can be modified to remove the old box and install an "old work" box.

    1. Remove the outlet or switch and move the cables away from the side of the box that is fastened to the stud. If you are going to remove the box, loosen or remove the clamps that hold the cables and disconnect any wires that will prevent them from being removed.
    2. Using a power drill, drill two holes about 5/8" from the front edge of the box, and about 1/4" from the top and bottom of the box. The holes will necessarily be at a bit of an angle and it will help if you get a long drill. I would use about a 3/16" drill because there will be some risk of breaking the drill. It will also help if you use a center-punch to mark the location of the hole to prevent the drill point from "walking" as you try to start the drill. The holes are near the top and bottom of the box to make them clear from the electrical terminals.
    3. Use a large flat-blade screwdriver and hammer to pry the metal box a bit off the stud.
    4. Use a Sawzall with thin blade, or a saber-saw, to cut the nails. By tilting the saw you can probably cut the nails without doing much damage to the dry wall. Use a short blade to minimize the danger of hitting the wires.
    5. Set the box flush with or or as much as 3/16" recessed behind the face of the drywall and fasten it with two screws. It sometimes helps to put a small shim at the front edge of the box to keep it from "tilting" sideways. You can also use one of the "old work" metal strips that will bend over the box edge and prevent the side away from the stud from sticking out too far.

    If you want or need to replace the box, you can usually remove the wire and install an "old work" box.
  11. kermtfrg

    kermtfrg New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion...I will give it a try.
  12. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

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    689
    Depending on the type of box, they may be simple or a PITA to remove.


    If they are nailed, simple. Pull the nails and screw the boxes back in place.



    If they are bracket mounted, PITA. sawzall the brackets, screw the boxes back in place and probably patch a little drywall/plaster
  13. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Location:
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    Actually, I think it's easier to sawzall the bracket than to pull a nail.

    Keep in mind there are Code nazis who will tell you you can't fasten the box by screwing through the side of it.
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