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theScud 12-01-2007 10:12 AM

Damaged electrical box - How to repair?
I just finished installing a tile backsplash in my kitchen. I did not notice when I started the job that many of the plastic electrical boxes were damaged when I unscrewed the receptacles. The little metal tab that holds a screw, keeping the receptacle in place, had popped off in many cases. Now I've completed the tiling and realize that the box won't work as designed.

Behind the metal tab is a plastic channel that will accept a larger screw but I'm worried that the brittle plastic will crack and then I'll really be up you-know-what-creek.

I know that the best repair is to pull the tile off the wall and
install a new box but I don't relish that prospect. Does anyone know of a good way to repair the box?

chris75 12-01-2007 10:49 AM

You can install a new box with out tearing off the wall, but I generally see people use sheetrock screws in this application... not saying that is the answer though...

Here is a old work plastic box...

Andy in ATL 12-01-2007 11:36 AM

I've used "sheetrock" screws before. The ones with a fine thread and long enough to compensate for your tile. I use my Makita cordless to run them in VERY SLOWLY. Good luck and keep checking back.

Sammy 12-01-2007 12:39 PM

A number 8 sheet metal screw should work fine or an 8/32 self tapping machine screw..

If the metal peice that held the original screw is completely gone you could even tap it with an 8/32 tap and some soap for a lubricant.

Most of the new "old work" boxes as pictured dont even have the screw holes tapped and are designed for this.

I have always just used the sheet metal screw and never had any problems.

ron schenker 12-01-2007 02:04 PM

I agree but, I'd feel better using a screwdriver instead of a cordless just to feel it better

Sammy 12-01-2007 02:19 PM

I agree with that Ron.. Dont need a screwgun to run in a 1" screw and the old fashioned manual type gives you much more feel and control.

220/221 12-01-2007 03:13 PM

I have seen some Slater brand quick clip boxes fail like that and the only thing to do was replace them.

Did the metal part simply come out or is the plastic broken? There is only about 1/8" of plastic on this type of box so if it IS intact and you DO use a larger drywall or sheet metal screw, be CAREFUL.

If you have to replace the box you might have to do it from the other side and repair the drywall because you probably tiled over the original box footprint making it impossible to remove/replace from the front side.

theScud 12-01-2007 05:05 PM

Lots of great replies here. Thanks.
I'm going to try the fine thread drywall screws first, simply because this was the most appealing option that appeared before I went to the hardware store this morning.

220/221: It looks like this plastic channel is at least 1/2" long. There used to be a thin metal square on the front of it that broke off. This is what held the screw in place. The plastic itself looks to be intact but it is not threaded and in any event is too large a diameter for the machine screws that were used to secure the receptacle. Replacing the box from the other side is not going to be an option for half of them because they are on an exterior wall.

I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and hope the plastic survives the drywall screws.

theScud 12-02-2007 11:01 AM

Just a quick reply to thanks for the idea! The drywall screws worked beautifully.

Sammy 12-02-2007 11:06 AM

Glad it worked out for ya!

Norcal 12-02-2007 05:11 PM

The best one I have found is to use a Heli-Coil® 6-32 insert on damaged boxes* then you can use the orig. screws and won't look hacked up.

* Even works on :censored: Quick-Clik ® boxes, those need to be shoved where the sun does not shine.

Andy in ATL 12-02-2007 06:24 PM


Originally Posted by Norcal (Post 77947)
The best one I have found is to use a Heli-Coil® 6-32 insert on damaged boxes* then you can use the orig. screws and won't look hacked up.

I know the sheetrock screws look hackish. But they sure work good.


chris75 12-02-2007 07:08 PM


Originally Posted by Andy in ATL (Post 77968)
I know the sheetrock screws look hackish. But they sure work good.


Not so bad with the plate installed... :laughing:

michaelpwalton1 06-23-2014 05:39 PM

check out the G-Clip.

ctcarlisle 06-24-2014 06:45 AM

Thread is 7 years old...:eek:

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