Boxes Stick Out of Wall


Old 02-01-07, 09:22 AM
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Boxes Stick Out of Wall


I've got several rooms in an addition added by the previous owners where some/all of the electrical boxes stick out enough that they prevent the outlet covers from reaching the wall. In some cases it's just one corner of the box sticking out too much. In other cases the entire box protrudes as much as 1/4 inch beyond the wall. All of these boxes are metal and appear to be nailed to studs. There are about 15 to 20 boxes involved.

Since there are so many that need to be corrected, I'm tempted to pull off the sheetrock on the lower parts of each room, re-position the boxes, then re-sheetrock. I'm thinking this might be less work than trying to cut each box's nails with a sawzall and replacing with old work boxes and then patching around the walls as necessary. However, before I go ahead I'd like to hear what some of you might suggest as alternatives.


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Old 02-01-07, 09:38 AM
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I don't suppose just leaving it the way it is is an option?

If you're planning to repaint anyway, and have some experience with drywalling, then ripping off the drywall is okay. But it still sounds like more work than the old-work box approach, which sounds like more work than doing nothing.

One advantage of ripping off the drywall is that it would allow you to find and correct the other things he did poorly. If he didn't set the boxes correctly, he probably did a bunch of other things wrong too.
Old 02-01-07, 02:17 PM
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Put 1/4" drywall over it all and use wainscott molding on the top edge..
Old 02-01-07, 03:31 PM
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I would simply use a grinder to "sand" the offending edges. To protect the wall, i would use blue painters tape and tape some newspaper around the outlet box and grind away. You could probably do all of them in about 2 hours.
Old 02-01-07, 04:53 PM
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can you sawzall between the box and the stud, to free up the box. Then, use internal nails or screws to hold the box to the stud, after you reposition it a bit. This way, you only have a slit in the drywall to repair; still should be taped, but pretty quick compared with the other alternatives.
If the entire drywall job looks bad already, tear it down and put up 5/8" drywall, will be a slightly better wall for noise, etc.
Old 02-01-07, 05:12 PM
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I'm with Dregg. My only concern would be the metal dust/chips, but if you have someone work with you holding a decent shop vac, you should be ok. Replacing the boxes would be my next preference, followed by tearing out the drywall. Adding 1/4 inch drywall would be somewhat easier, but you immediatly screw up your door jam width, casings, moldings, etc.
Old 02-02-07, 06:35 AM
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Thanks for the responses.

One of the things that's holding me back from tearing out the drywall is what sort of mess I might find hidden. This house has just been one "what the F were they thinking?" after another.

I don't think grinding down the boxes will work since many of them have the "ears" that you screw the outlets/switches into extending beyond the wall.

1/4" drywall will end up being just about the same amount of taping/mudding work as tearing out. Plus as vmanbb points out, it screws up all the other moldings, etc.

I'll probably try freeing up one of the boxes with a sawzall to see if I can reposition it easily as telecom suggests. If that works I'll do the rest that way, if not, then out comes the utility knife, sledge and prybar...

Old 02-02-07, 09:40 AM
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Possibly soft-metal shims. The outside dimensions would be the exact outside-dimensions of the wall plates. The metal would be milled-out so that the shim would fit tight against the protruding edges of the outlet box. In a sense, the shim would have the appearence of a "Decora"- stlye wall plate which fits tight to the edges of the devices it covers.

You will need the services of a machine- shop.
Old 02-02-07, 01:30 PM
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I don't think grinding down the boxes will work since many of them have the "ears" that you screw the outlets/switches into extending beyond the wall.
You said the boxes have ears on them, are you sure that they are nailed to the studs? Usually with metal boxes, you either nail them to the studs without ears, or use the ears as "old work" boxes with some type of clamp or flange to hold them in place.

Having done it a few times (for other reasons), I'd go for sawzalling the nails, and remount the same boxes using the ears and those metal U-shaped things to hold them in place. (I have no idea what they are called)

Good luck!
Old 02-02-07, 02:41 PM
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You might take a look at trying to make a 1/4" or 1/2" raised duplex cover plate work.

Old 02-02-07, 04:09 PM
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Those clips are called 'madison clips'.
Old 02-02-07, 06:24 PM
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Since your last reply, i'm going to suggest something different. If i were in your shoes, knowing what you know about the house, i would remove the sheetrock and inspect what the previous homeowners did. Like any other "new" home owner, you're going to re-do the whole house anyway so......might as well start with one room, gut it, inspect it, repair the boxes, and move on to the next. At least you'll have some sort of idea what the previous owners did. If everything checks out good (with the exception of the placement of the boxes), then you could just cut the boxes free with a sawzall and position it correctly with the remaining boxes.
Old 02-02-07, 06:48 PM
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With the right size blade on the saws-all, and cutting at the correct angle, you shouldn't have to cut into the sheetrock much at all. I've pulled out both plastic and metal boxes this way many times, usually without even touching the surrounding sheetrock.

One thing to watch out for with metal boxes is that they may be the type that have the nailer bracket welded to the side. A bit more of a challenge to cut out.

best wishes!
Old 02-02-07, 07:25 PM
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You could also look for a cover plate like the Trademaster line from Pass and Seymour. They are slightly oversized and a little deeper than the standard plate.

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