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Household Handyman
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IMO-that box definitely needs to be re-anchored. It appears that the plastic anchors did not get spread enough by the screws put into them to be secure. Just my 2 cents worth on this, David
 

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Tool Geek
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If I push the wall anchors on the back of this outlet back into the holes they were in, is there something I can use to keep them from falling back out?

Thanks.
gma, The EMT may be misaligned or more likely is not properly secured to the Wall above the offset visible in your photo.

 

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To withstand the force of plugs being removed, the outlet box needs to be (itself) firmly anchored to the wall.

Exactly what size plastic anchors and what size screws to use is mostly trial and error.

Masonry screws usually work better than regular screws plus plastic anchors.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
You're right about the anchors. It doesn't look like they opened at all. I'll get those replaced. New holes will probably have to be drilled since the holes that are there right now are pretty big.

Being that I have no experience with electrical work, is this something I can do myself, or should I hire someone? It seems like the box has to be opened to replace these.

You hit it right on the head Bob. There isn't an EMT securing it to the wall. It doesn't look like there ever was one as there are no holes drilled in the wall except where the box sits. The pipe with the wire in it hangs loose when the box falls down. I should be able to put one of those on. Maybe one at the top of the pipe and one above the box?
 

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Turn off power to receptacle and remove receptacle from box. Probably could leave wires attached. Push box back against wall and anchor using masonary screws.
 

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gma, The "pipe" is EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing)
To expand on joed's directions to get the Outlet back against the wall:


  1. Turn off Circuit Breaker, that powers the Outlet, OFF
  2. Remove the Outlet Cover plate
  3. Remove the two screws that hold in the Outlet (the Receptacle)
  4. Gently pull the receptacle as far Out and Up as possible
  5. Remove the two old mounting Screws and Anchors from the box.
Take the anchors down to the Hardware store and get two anchors the next size Larger diameter, Also two new Larger Metal Screws.


  • Verify that the new anchors will fit tightly in the existing holes
  • Verify the new screws will fit the holes in the box, If not drill out the box.
  • Mount the Box with the new Anchors and Screws
  • Reverse steps 4,3,2,1

If you have access to a hammer drill you can EMT straps. They should be at least every 3ft.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you Bob. I appreciate the detailed explanation. That helps a lot!

I'll run to the store and get the parts this evening so I can get that fixed.

If I don't have a hammer drill, can I use a drill bit meant for drilling cement and my electric drill?

Thanks again for your help.
 

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Liquid nails or epoxy will work without taking anything apart..

I would simply take the recep out and re anchor it properly.
 

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....can I use a drill bit meant for drilling cement and my electric drill?.......
probably, if you use enough pressure. Get the masonry bit and try it. I was going to suggest renting one from HD, but when I called, they quoted $40/day.:no:

If you lived near me, I'd let you use one of mine. I have four.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have a tube of that PL Premium construction adhesive that's already open. Maybe I'll give that a try first and still add some of the EMT straps.

$40 a day to rent a hammer drill? Thanks for checking into that for me. I guess it would be worth it if you had a full day of drilling to do.
 

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I've had this problem a couple of time: anchors strip out a hole that crumbles, won't hold them in, etc. One cheap, fast fix is wrap electrical tape around the anchor (thus making it thicker) and putting it in the hole. (Make sure it's snug; you might have to tap it in with a hammer). Once the anchor is reset, use a screw one size larger than the one that was in it (Instead of an 8, use a 10). The thicker anchor and the bigger screw will compress the anchor firmly in the hole, thus securing the box to the wall.

This works every time (or at least has for me, YMMV)

In re: hammer drills. This is a great thing to have: makes lots of noise, sends dust flying everywhere and drills holes in concrete. For light duty applications (like in the home, where it might be used as a hammer drill maybe five times a year) just go buy a cheap one from Big Lots or Harbor Freight Tools. I got mine for $28 at Harbor Freight a couple of years ago and works fine.
 

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I have a tube of that PL Premium construction adhesive that's already open. Maybe I'll give that a try first and still add some of the EMT straps..........
If you don't first remove the screws and anchors, when you push the box back against the wall, the the attached screws may push back inside the box and short something out.
.

 

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Their flier at the local store here had them on sale for $28 until the end of the month. Harbor Freight is constantly putting things on 'sale' to keep traffic churning. I bought a 3 pound sledge for $5 the other day, marked down from $10. The list price on the hammer drill maybe $40, but that particular item is always less than $30 here at the Louisville store, same as their 4.5 Amp reciprocating saw, which lists for $40, but is always on "sale" for $25.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If you don't first remove the screws and anchors, when you push the box back against the wall, the the attached screws may push back inside the box and short something out.
If there's even a chance of that happening, I'm the one it would happen to. lol

Last winter I was on a ladder in the same room, wrapping the seams on the ducts. I bumped the ceiling light fixture with my elbow, shorted it out and took out the power to that half of the basement.

Thanks again. I'll take the cover off the box first, lift the receptacle and push the screws into the adhesive. With the power off, of course.
 

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Now, who would be stupid enough to go out and buy or rent a hammer drill for two holes? Remove the cover and receptacle. Pull out the old screws and anchors. Put new screws and anchors in that are one or two sizes bigger.
If you have to, you can move the box a little left or right and drill new holes. A regular drill with a good masonry drill bit will work just fine. You do not need a hammer drill for two holes. It's easier but not required.
 

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Now, who would be stupid enough to go out and buy or rent a hammer drill for two holes?
The thing of it is, is that once you buy it, suddenly you wonder how you got by without it. Once you have a tool, you seem to use it a lot. (At least I do.) I bought a 1/2 inch breaker bar because it was on sale, then not too long ago the serpentine belt on my car needed to be replaced and the breaker bar was just the tool for the job. I also have used that tool several times on hard bolts I have had to remove. Yeah, my 1/2 inch socket wrench would have worked, but the breaker bar makes things like taking apart my children's rusted swing set (or getting off my car's serpentine belt) quite easy.
 
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