A Beginner’s Guide to Fixing Loose Outlets
If you feel like there are too many loose outlets and plugs in your house, go through this post and see what you, as the homeowner, can do to fix them.
Turn off the Electricity to the Outlet
Locate your home’s main circuit box, which is normally on a wall in a corridor, basement, or garage. Try to find the circuit that controls the room with the outlet and turn the switch to the “OFF” position to entirely off the electricity so you don’t get shocked while working on your repairs.
Insert a voltage tester into the outlet to see if it is still active.
If you are unsure which circuit your outlet is connected to, switch off the main breaker at the top of the box, however, this will cut off all electricity in your home.
Take the Cover Plate From the Wall
Turn the screw in the center of the cover plate counter-clockwise using a screwdriver. Pull the cover plate away from the wall once it is free enough to reveal the outlet and cables in the electrical box behind it.
Keep the screw in a cup to avoid losing it during repairs. If the outlet screws feel loose, try tightening them. The outlet may loosen over time as the screws become looser. Turn the screws at the top and bottom of the outlet clockwise with your screwdriver. Try to wiggle the outlet from side to side to see if it’s securely in place. If the screws are already tight, the electrical box within the wall may be loose.
If the Outlet Screws Feel Loose, Try Tightening Them
The outlet may loosen over time as the screws become looser. Turn the screws at the top and bottom of the outlet clockwise with your screwdriver. Try to wiggle the outlet from side to side to see if it’s securely in place.
If the screws are already tight, the electrical box within the wall may be loose.
What if the Outlets Are Recessed?
If the outlets are recessed, use electrical spacers on the screws. Purchase a pack of electrical spacers, which resemble little C-shaped clips with top and bottom snaps. Snap the snaps on two spacers together and press them together until they click. Loosen the screws on the outlet and place the spacers on the shaft of the screw just behind the head. Tighten the screws back into the wall to prevent the outlet from moving.
Now, if the outlets are still recessed into the wall after tightening the screws, replace them with another spacer and screw them back in. It may take a few trials to determine how many spacers to use.
If Spacers Do Not Work, Use an Electrical Box Extender
An electrical box extender resembles a rectangular plastic component that goes into the outlet hole and allows the receptacle to be snugly screwed in. Unscrew the outlet entirely from the wall and carefully take it away from the wall, leaving the wires attached. Insert the outlet into the hole in the center of the electrical box extension. Then, before screwing in your outlet, press the extension flush with the wall.
Some electrical box extenders include longer screws to further secure your outlet.
Extenders are ideal if you need to expand an outlet after installing a backsplash or any other wall improvement.
If the Electrical Box Is Slack Within the Wall, Use a Wall Plate Spacer
If you can still jiggle the outlet, the box has become loose within the wall. Simply unscrew your outlet from the wall while leaving the wires attached, and slide a wall plate spacer right behind it. Screw the outlet back into the electrical box, making sure the screws go through the holes in the wall plate spacer’s top and bottom.
The wall plate spacer secures the outlet to the drywall, preventing the box from moving.
The Last Step
Replace the cover plate and reconnect the power.