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Old 04-19-2010, 11:42 AM   #1
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Issues w/ Old Work Box


In my downstairs bathroom, I've got a pair of switches (one for a fan and the other for a light) and receptacle - all of which are contained within a single box. Anyway, the whole setup had a variety of issues with it, so I decided to replace it. For one thing, the receptacle was not a GFCI and also was not grounded. Secondly, the previous installer used a new work box which was screwed into a stud on the right side. However, that resulted in the left side being not anchored to anything and hence extremely loose. So loose, that one had to hold the wall plate when unplugging something - otherwise the whole setup was in danger of being ripped out.

So I replaced the entire box with an old work box and re-wired everything with a new GFCI receptacle and lighted switches which my wife wanted. Electrically, everything works perfectly and the box is securely fastened to the wallboard.

However, it seems that my replacement old work box is just slightly larger than the original new work box (both old and new were three gang boxes). As a result, I had to mallet the replacement box into the wall board hole. Unfortunately, after I installed everything, the box and the plate on top are a bit crooked. What is the best way to straighten this out. I would hate to re-do everything since it works, but just looks a bit unprofessional.

Thanks,

Marc

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Old 04-19-2010, 11:55 AM   #2
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Issues w/ Old Work Box


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Originally Posted by mkrawitz View Post
In my downstairs bathroom, I've got a pair of switches (one for a fan and the other for a light) and receptacle - all of which are contained within a single box. Anyway, the whole setup had a variety of issues with it, so I decided to replace it. For one thing, the receptacle was not a GFCI and also was not grounded. Secondly, the previous installer used a new work box which was screwed into a stud on the right side. However, that resulted in the left side being not anchored to anything and hence extremely loose. So loose, that one had to hold the wall plate when unplugging something - otherwise the whole setup was in danger of being ripped out.

So I replaced the entire box with an old work box and re-wired everything with a new GFCI receptacle and lighted switches which my wife wanted. Electrically, everything works perfectly and the box is securely fastened to the wallboard.

However, it seems that my replacement old work box is just slightly larger than the original new work box (both old and new were three gang boxes). As a result, I had to mallet the replacement box into the wall board hole. Unfortunately, after I installed everything, the box and the plate on top are a bit crooked. What is the best way to straighten this out. I would hate to re-do everything since it works, but just looks a bit unprofessional.

Thanks,

Marc
You shouldn't hammer a box into the wall, you should have cut the opening a little bit bigger with a sheetrock saw.

At this point, your best bet is too loosen the box and pull it out as far as the wires will let you and then trim the wallboard enough to allow the box to sit level in the wall, it's OK if you open the hole up because the cover plate will cover any small gaps.

For the record, an old work box attached to the wallboard is not as secure as one attached to the stud. Many electricians are opting for "Smartboxes" which attach to the stud instead of the wall in old work situations. Most likely, you could have remedied your original situation by just tightening the screws that were holding the box to the stud, if done properly the far side should not move at all. If the box was attached solidly to the stud, then there should be no movement. If there is any movement, then the stud is twisting and you got bigger problems to deal with

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Old 04-19-2010, 12:11 PM   #3
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Issues w/ Old Work Box


Is the hole cut level? You can also slightly adjust the switches using the slots in the mounting yoke.
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Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 04-19-2010, 12:14 PM   #4
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Issues w/ Old Work Box


I think the hole is level, but I believe the box is not.
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Old 04-19-2010, 12:20 PM   #5
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Issues w/ Old Work Box


Shrute, I had not thought about retaining the original new work box - that's a good point. It was installed with two screws in a vertical pattern. If I had added two more screws horizontally, would that have eliminated the horizontal movement?

In any case, I already went down this path. When I removed the box, I discovered some flaky wiring behind it (which I fixed), so I guess it's ultimately good I did this, albeit for the wrong reasons
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Old 04-19-2010, 12:53 PM   #6
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Issues w/ Old Work Box


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Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
Is the hole cut level? You can also slightly adjust the switches using the slots in the mounting yoke.
that is generally true with standard toggle switches and receptacles. But the "Decora" type have less play. (and won't line up when the plate is installed). Also, if the box is way out of level, either the whole will have to be cut more (but a standard plate will not cover it.) or the box will have to be redone.!

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