Fix Loose Wall Receptacles By Using Electrical Outlet Spacers



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Once again, I found myself  in the middle of another home remodeling project when a small problem arose.

This time, I learned something new in the process — before this, I didn’t know anything about electrical outlet spacers!

I ran into this problem while I was installing new beadboard wainscoting in our kitchen and breakfast room.

The electrical outlets were recessed after I installed the wainscoting – and I wasn’t able to install the faceplate properly.

It’s a seemingly obvious problem, but it’s one small thing that I hadn’t thought about when planning out the project. (Then again, if there wasn’t some sort of hiccup during the course of a home DIY project, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.)

I discovered that the electrical outlet needed to be pushed forward somehow, in order for it to become flush with the beadboard paneling.

I could loosen the screws on the electrical outlet to bring it forward — but that would leave it loose and that wasn’t an option.

Here is some electrical wiring in need of outlet spacers

Outlet Spacers To The Rescue

I headed to the home improvement center in search of a product that would solve my little dilemma.

I always assume that I’m not the first person to have the problem I’ve encountered. Therefore, I know that there will almost always be a product that will take care of my home remodeling problem. If there’s not a product, then I usually I find that a little improvisation and ingenuity will see me through.

I had something in mind that would be made of rubber or plastic — for fire and safety concerns. A UL listed product would be the way to go for peace of mind.

Turns out the solution for this type of problem is an affordable set of electrical outlet spacers!

Gardner Bender electrical outlet spacers

TIP: Be sure to cut the power to the receptacles at the breaker box prior to installing the spacers. You can do this with the power on, but you’ll need to know what to touch and what not to touch. If you’re not 100% certain, cut the power at the breaker box.

Why You Need Electrical Outlet Spacers

beadboard-wainscoting-installed-over-electrical-outlet-spacers.JPG

Here are a few of the reasons that you should use outlet spacers:

  • Loose receptacles could result in arcing.
  • You want that professionally installed look. It’s the small details that make it all come together.
  • They provide support for your outlets when plugging in devices.
  • A receptacle that is not flush will result in cracked or broken faceplates.
  • You may find yourself in violation of a building code if you leave your receptacles recessed.

The electrical outlet spacers that I purchased are Made in the USA and UL listed. Those are 2 very good reasons to buy them!

Be sure not to touch the sides of the receptacle. You’ll get a nasty jolt if you haven’t disabled the electricity flow.

i was able to tighten up the electrical outlet spacers with a screwdriver

What’s cool about this product is that these spacers can be piggy-backed (just like Legos) to any desired depth — so if you’re installing stone, tile, or rock on your walls, you can put a few of them together to make it right.

what the electrical outlet spacers look like from the side

More DIY Home Electrical Tips

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Here's an easy fix for loose outlets... DIY electrical outlet spacers!
Fix Loose Wall Receptacles By Using Electrical Outlet Spacers

Randy

I started as a home-stalker... visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects -- chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.

10 thoughts on “Fix Loose Wall Receptacles By Using Electrical Outlet Spacers

  1. Thank you so much! I bought my first home just over a year ago and I have this exact problem with the wainscoting. I, not knowing the first thing about these things, didn’t have a clue how to fix this unsightly problem. So can’t think you enough for this advice.

      1.  I have a box of assorted size springs and I’ve used them to push the outlet forward. Just put the spring on the screw between the outlet’s tabs and the wall box and tighten.
        I’ve also used faucet washers; they’re plastic.

  2. I just did the exact same thing… did you have to enlarge some holes do dig out the sockets? A lot of mine are a tight fit, I’m not able to get them unscrewed becaues the metal part is behind the beadboard… Yikes!

    1. Danielle…I did loosen the top and bottom screw of the receptacle to bring it forward so it looks flush to the wall. You might have to adjust it a couple of times to get it just right. Thanks for asking a great question.

  3. I was once given a free sample of different spacers that can be stacked to the desired height, which are UL rated. The UL rated spacers that I am taking about are gray or sometimes black.  I am a little reluctant to use the spacers that you are talking about Randy because I don’t see on the bags where it says that they are UL rated.

    1. Work_N_Mike…I still have the leftovers in the bag and you’re correct. They are not UL listed. I assume that they would put that on the bag if they were. These are intended to be used on oversized openings, tile, marble, etc. It also reads “…are not intended to be used in lieu of standard means of support of when in conflict with governing electrical codes. DO NOT USE if finish is combustible (e.g. wood paneling) without proper fire barrier. Guess I’ll be replacing them soon. Nice catch.

  4. Thank you!! I remodeled a basement with cedar planking and was at wits end over the outlet issues I was having. This should do the trick. My sanity is saved!!!

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