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Old 02-12-2009, 02:30 PM   #1
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


We had some gusts today up to 50 mph. I took off a couple of outlet plates and felt some cool air, and decided that I should do some sealing.

I can't tell if the air is coming in through the box, or around the box (small gaps).

Some of the gaps are rather small, but I could seal them using duct sealer with a spatula (did this with some register boots and bathroom fans). Or, I could use aerosol foam, but it would be difficult with some of the narrow gaps.

So I'm looking for the best way to go about this. Also, is it ever permissible to use foam inside (at the back) of the box?

Thanks.

V

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Old 02-12-2009, 02:44 PM   #2
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


You cannot use foam inside the box. Buy foam adapters that are meant to seal around electrical outlets. They will come in all sizes for both switch or receptacle outlets.

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Old 02-12-2009, 03:12 PM   #3
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


Yep. Hardware store. HD, Lowes, they will have the seals you need.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:19 AM   #4
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


i bet what he is referring to when he says "around the box" is air leaking from the small spaces between the box and the rock or tile. we all know that insulating around the box is impossible to do well with batting and he is feeling a draft in through the 1/4 inch space outside of the box. That is why he thinks it will be hard to spray the foam to the side of it. I have the same promblem with many outlets in my house.

The shortfall of the Lowe's HD gaskets is that they are usually only the exact size of the box, and if the draft is coming from the space outside of the box the gasket doesnt seal good enough. its like putting a 2 inch gasket over a 2 1/2 inch opening.
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:17 AM   #5
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


Quote:
Originally Posted by windowguy View Post
i bet what he is referring to when he says "around the box" is air leaking from the small spaces between the box and the rock or tile. we all know that insulating around the box is impossible to do well with batting and he is feeling a draft in through the 1/4 inch space outside of the box. That is why he thinks it will be hard to spray the foam to the side of it. I have the same promblem with many outlets in my house.

The shortfall of the Lowe's HD gaskets is that they are usually only the exact size of the box, and if the draft is coming from the space outside of the box the gasket doesnt seal good enough. its like putting a 2 inch gasket over a 2 1/2 inch opening.
Yes, that is exactly what's going on. Most likely, it's infiltrating around and through the box.

I have some thin rubber anti-skid material, so I'm going to try and make some custom fit models. I'll let y'all know how it works.

V
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:49 AM   #6
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


Quote:
Originally Posted by windowguy View Post
i bet what he is referring to when he says "around the box" is air leaking from the small spaces between the box and the rock or tile. we all know that insulating around the box is impossible to do well with batting and he is feeling a draft in through the 1/4 inch space outside of the box. That is why he thinks it will be hard to spray the foam to the side of it. I have the same promblem with many outlets in my house.

The shortfall of the Lowe's HD gaskets is that they are usually only the exact size of the box, and if the draft is coming from the space outside of the box the gasket doesnt seal good enough. its like putting a 2 inch gasket over a 2 1/2 inch opening.
The gasket we are talking about is the same size as the electrical plate. So if air is coming out past that point there would be a hole in the wall and you can add spray foam. Maybe try buying electrical supplies at an electrical supply store.
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:52 AM   #7
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


i tried doubling up the width of the gasket and it just didnt work well. Still too much air infiltration. What i will try next is actually some sort of thick tape, or tar paper tape, and tape from the edge of the box to the sheetrock gap. then i can use the pre-made gaskets over that to cover the box dimensions. The problem is the more "layers" you put on there the less your cover plate lays flush to the wall.

And if that still doesnt work well i'm going to just make the gap wider and then shoot foam in there (breaker off of course). Desperate drafts call for desperate measures!
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:16 AM   #8
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


Why make the gap wider to use foam when you can use caulk?
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:22 AM   #9
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


"Why make the gap wider to use foam when you can use caulk?"

I am trying to figure out why I had not thought of this. Caulk the outer edges of the box and add the gasket. Done!
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:57 AM   #10
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


great idea..
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:05 PM   #11
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Best technique for sealing electrical outlets/switches


shut off the breaker to the receptacle, then TAKE OUT the outlet/switch.
there should be a few holes in the receptacle that didn't get used (or tabs that you can break off to reveal a hole).

then take your spray foam can and stick the straw through the receptacle.
you want to insulate directly behind it, as well as surround it from all sides. Don't even worry about getting any inside the box; you can cut it out after it cures. Just go to town and make sure the thing is surrounded. You can probably use minimally expanding foam, unless there is no insulation there at all, in which case you'll want a high expansion foam to fill the cavity, depending on stud width.

will take you 1.5 minutes to remove the outlet and put it back it. don't waste your time with trying to jam things in a tiny little crack between the rock and outlet.

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