how to fix an outlet

Quick Fix: How to Fix an Outlet That is Recessed

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Several years ago, I took my family to Disney World. My kids were ages three and one. The trip actually went better than you would expect. We went in June (a terrible idea) so it rained every afternoon. One day, at the Magic Kingdom, the clouds rolled in. I told my wife that we should go into the Carousel of Progress. It is a ride that shows you what life looked like at the turn of the century to the “present day.” You sit in a theater and your seating rotates through four different sections. She protested, I persisted, she finally relented. She should have resisted more because it was one of the worst ideas I have ever had. Our kids lost their patience in the first section. My wife still gives me a hard time about it.

However, it was interesting to see what houses looked like when electricity was a relatively new thing. There were few outlets so wires were going everywhere. These days there are plenty of outlets, but many are old and need replacing. Some experience recessing back into the wall due to aging or poor construction. Outlet receptacle repairs can seem overwhelming, but they are actually a quick fix. After some simple instruction, you’ll be an expert. Here’s how to fix an outlet that is recessed.

Recessed Outlet

Potential Tools Needed:

  • Phillips Head and Flat Head Screwdrivers
  • 2 or 4 screws for attaching the outlet plug(s) to the electrical box. (You may need ones that are longer than the current ones. Measure before buying.)
  • Electrical Box Extender, Shimming Plate, or Outlet Spacers
  • Electrical/Voltage Tester
  1. Go to the electrical box and turn off the power to the outlet box you are working on.
  2. Take your voltage tester and put it into the outlet to ensure the power is off.
  3. Take off the outer outlet plate.
  4. Unscrew the screws connecting the outlet plugs(s) to the box and pull out. Leave all of the wires attached.
  5. Take the electrical box extender or shimming plate and slide it back behind the outlet plugs.
  6. Screw the outlet plug(s) to the extender/shimming plate and electrical box. Or, take your outlet spacers and fold them until they are thick enough to cover the recessed gap. Breakoff any unneeded section.
  7. Take the folded spacer and fit it on the back of the outlet plug screw and snap in place. Repeat process with the other screws.
  8. Screw the outlet plugs back into the outlet box.
  9. Reattach the outer plate and you are finished.

Using Shimming Plate and Outlet Spacers

Using Electrical Box Extenders

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What are some other fixes around the house that you would like to know how to do?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • skydvrboy

    Or just find some washers and or nuts that will make up the gap and place them behind the outlet screws. Then you don’t need a trip to the hardware store and you don’t need to spend any money, just a bit of time.

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