Receptacles far back from the wall

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Ian Gills, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
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    Location:
    USA
    Some of my receptacles are a little far back in the wall, such that the faceplate requires longer screws (half inch instead of quarter inch). The receptacles are just flush with the face plate.

    Can I remove the snap off yokes on the receptacle and use them as washers to bring each out a little?

    My receptacles are installed in metal boxes with 1/2 inch mud plates. Strangely the drywall appears to be half inch too.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
  2. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    They make spacer for that - even the Box Stores carry them.

    They come in a strip, like this:

    [​IMG]


    You tear off how many you need, they snap together to make it as thick as you need.

    3-4$

    .
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Location:
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    A second concern is that you may want to get box extenders. These also come in various thicknesses . I know I've bought some at HD. They come with longer screws to hold the device in the box (but they sometimes fall off and you have to dig them out of the bottom of the box!). They're basically a fire/electrically neutral plastic ring in various thicknesses. The box should be even with the wall surface for safety. If you used those, you wouldn't need the spacers mentioned. They're pretty cheap.
  4. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Good point.

    If the face of the box / mudring is recessed more than 1/4", you need to extend it.


    I'm getting sloppy on code, on here, lately... tsk, tsk.
  5. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    No. You want the yoke to sit on the drywall to keep the recep/switches secure. Ideally they are flush. Legally you get 1/4". 1/2" back is not that unusual.

    If the drywall is cut too big for the yokes to sit on, use some nuts as spacers.
  6. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    Location:
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    Thanks for the tips. It looks like the receptacles are about one quarter of an inch back but the drywall has worn on some of them which makes securing the receptacles tricky. I think the plastic extenders will work nicely.

    I think I'll tidy up the drywall with some patches too. I think code only allows a one-eighth inch gap around the box.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
  7. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

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    I thought it was 1/8" ... no?
  8. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    You're allowed 1/4" recess in noncombustible material - you're allowed 1/8 gap (bravo, Ian) around the hole.
  9. Ford2001

    Ford2001 New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Manchester, Vermont
    If the receptacles set back to far?

    You check with your local electrical supply house.

    See if they sell the Arlington, brand box extentions.

    I used, then, they have a lip that extends all the way around the
    outlet openning.

    Home Depot also see box extentions, and they come in different
    thicknes.

    I had have good luck with both products.

    I have also switch to using adjustable boxes, in places were the wall
    thickness in an unknown/unkown.
  10. Boo

    Boo New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    California
    Be cautious about some of the plastic box extenders. The ones I bought at Home Depot recently have somewhat sharp edges and when you push into the existing box, they have a potential to cut the sheathing on the Romex. I had to file them smoother before inserting.
  11. Joe Werle

    Joe Werle New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    plastic supply lines

    I've used 3/8" plastic supply lines, cut to the length needed to bring the receptacle flush with the surface of the wall. and drywall screws of various lengths seems to work in the plastic boxes. Both readily available.
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Location:
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    You are treating the symptom and not fixing the probem! While doing this will move the outlet flush with the wall surface, the whole safety reason to do it in the first place is to protect the potentially vulnerable wall covering from possible sparks. Only moving the box or a box extender solve both the symptom and the problem.
  13. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    Thanks. I did go with the plastic box entenders (on my metal boxes and armored cable) and they seem to work an absolute treat.

    I like the way they add to the box size as well!
  14. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Oops - plastic extenders on metal boxes?

    Means now you need to pigtail a ground connection between the receptacle and the metal box.
  15. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

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    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Wouldn't the receptacle screws serve as the connection between the receptacle and the metal box?
  16. Jim Port

    Jim Port Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    156
    Location:
    Maryland
    The short answer is no. The NEC requires a grounding tail to the device, unless the box is surface mounted.
  17. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    The longer answer is also no.

    You don't need a seperate ground, ONLY when the receptacle's tab is in full contact with the metal box.

    ...I have to add, in all fairness, that I see this rule broken a lot more often than I see it observed. I always thought the mounting screws served as ground, too, until Mike told me otherwise.

    And it still doesn't make that much sense to me, the cross-section of those two screws must be pretty damn close, if not over, the cross-section of a 12-gauge wire? But I don't write or interpret the rules...

    Sorry not to have warned you, Ian, I thought you were on plastic boxes.






    ... had to look it up.

    12-gauge wire is 0.0808" diameter, 6-32 screw's shaft is 0.0997". Steel instead of copper, but there's 2 of them... Weird / silly rule, then, I think. Wish Mike or Pete was around to explain the rationale, but neither's been around, lately.
  18. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Thanks for the info - would not have known about the need for pigtails if using a plastic box extender between receptacle and box.
  19. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    I always do that regardless to ensure the receptacle/metal box remains grounded if the receptacle is removed (or comes loose) from the metal box.

    In fact, I thought it was code.

    Oh, I've just realised what you mean. A grounded box can ground the receptacle, but a grounded receptacle cannot ground the box. And a plastic extender messes up the former.

    Nevertheless, I am still OK due to my craftmanship!
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
  20. Scuba_Dave

    Scuba_Dave Extreme DIY Homeowner

    Messages:
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    Location:
    South of Boston, MA
    I've always run a ground to the metal box too
    Never relied on just the screws, some of them are real rusty
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