When it comes to your electrical outlets, you want to make sure they are stable and secure before plugging anything into them. After all, using a loose outlet can be potentially dangerous.
Your electrical outlets may become loose if the box around it is too big, leaving it without support. Additionally, outlets that are frequently used may loosen if the drywall behind them starts to crumble. When an outlet gets pushed too far into the electrical box, the cover plate will eventually break. Not only is a cracked cover plate unsightly, but it could also dangerously expose the electrical wires.
Fortunately, tightening a loose outlet is relatively simple for those who have some electrical knowledge. Just follow these steps:
Step 1: Turn Off the Power!
Before you begin working on the outlet, make sure the power connected to it is completely off! You will have to do this by switching the power off from the breaker box.
Step 2: Remove Plate Cover and Outlet
In order to get to the electrical box, you’ll have to remove the plate cover and outlet. Carefully unscrew the cover, then the outlet. If the cover is broken, you’ll want to have a new one handy for when it’s time to put it back on.
Step 3: Make a Wire Coil
To bridge the gap between the outlet and the electrical box, you will need to make a coiled spacer out of a scrap piece of electrical wire. Take a 12-inch piece of 12- or 14-gauge wire and strip the exterior coating off of it. Take out one individual wire and twist it into a tight coil, leaving enough space to slide a screw through the middle. You can do this by using needle-nose pliers.
Step 4: Measure and Cut the Coil
Place the end of the coil tight against the screw hole that holds the outlet. The coil will compress some when tightened, so be sure to cut it so it sticks out slightly past the wall.
Step 5: Place the Coil Over the Screw
Slide the trimmed coil over the screw that mounts the outlet and fasten the outlet to the wall. If the wall behind the outlet is not penetrable or if the box is set more than a fourth of an inch behind the drywall, you will likely have to add a box extender.
Step 6: Replace Cover and Switch On Power
Once the outlet is mounted, replace the cover plate. You may now switch the breaker back on and use your tightly fastened outlet.
Need Help With Your Electrical Work?
Unless you have the experience, do-it-yourself electrical work can be risky. If the right precautions are not taken, it could result in a dangerous situation for you or damage to your home. Fortunately, the experienced and knowledgeable electricians at Mister Sparky are here to handle your electrical projects, big and small! Give us a call today!