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Gaps around outlets and light switches


theseeker's Avatar
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10-30-09, 08:25 PM   #1  
Gaps around outlets and light switches

Any ideas on the best way to fill in gaps around outlets and light switches? I have gaps like this around all of my switches and electrical boxes in the plaster:

http://www.jarsworld.com/chris/switch_gap.JPG

I'm thinking of using either spackle or DapTex spray foam. I guess caulk is an option also.

Just wondering what the best solution here is. I definitely don't want to start any electrical fires! Thanks.

 
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10-31-09, 08:09 AM   #2  
There are foam peices made specifically for the purpose and can be easily modified for your situation.You do not want to use any material in between those switches that would make access to the wiring difficult or would "goo-up" the wiring.Even if you didn't impact the connections you'd make replacement and repair very difficult as those switches wear out etc.One option is rope caulk,caulk that peels off a roll and is not permanent but the foam is your best solution.

 
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11-01-09, 06:43 AM   #3  
Are these foam pieces similar to backing rods? I'm not sure what to call them when I go to the big box store to try to find them. Thanks.

 
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11-01-09, 06:59 AM   #4  
Just to make it clear also... I don't want to do anything inside the switch box, just with the large gaps in the plaster around the boxes. Thanks.

 
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11-01-09, 07:22 AM   #5  
If you went to a real hardware store instead of a big box they would know what you need when you walked in...

The foam pieces are generally termed "electrical plate weatherstripping" or similar wording.They are flat sections of foam usually with cut outs for the switch knob or outlet openings.

You need those as well as the need to deal with the areas around the boxes as air is passing through those large open areas around the switches.Just sealing the cracks around the boxes is not a total solution.

As for around the boxes,you'd want either caulk or rope caulk as spray foam will expand too much for those cracks,even the lesser expansion versions.Rope caulk would be easier and do the job,regular caulk,including spray caulk would be more permanent.

 
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11-01-09, 07:28 AM   #6  
Hi seeker, my experience with the thin foam inserts is they may not cover the outside edge of the box, the gap between the box and the sheetrock. But they are inexpensive and can be used along with other solutions as an insulator.

Two suggestions. look for some oversized cover plates. I think they invented them just for situations like this. the other is to cover the area with a contact paper and trim the outside to match the edge of the switch plate. Your area looka a bit rough, so the contact paper might have a tough time laying flat. But if you can get it to work, it can cover the gaps and if you eliminate a place for cold air to exit the wall, it can't head in that direction, so it stays warmer. Some shelf paper has a low tack surface and is available in many colors. When my kids were home I installed these with a three inck perimeter to keep the finger prints off of the walls.

Bud

 
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11-03-09, 02:08 PM   #7  
I use the low expansion latex spray foam on the outside of the box. I hold the nozzle right at the gap. Caulk would also be an option.


All answers based on National Codes. Please check with your local building departments for local amendments.

 
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11-03-09, 04:57 PM   #8  
You can also use styrofoam egg cartons. Just take off the plate and scribe your gasket. Also a good idea to use rope caulk at the wall / box junctions. Turn off the power to those recepticals first!

 
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11-03-09, 06:06 PM   #9  
They make over sized cover plates that will hide the rough look, if that is what you are trying to accomplish.
I wasn't sure if you were weatherizing or beautifying.

 
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11-19-09, 07:20 AM   #10  
ArmchairDIY, I'm going for strictly weatherizing, not looks.

I think I'm going to use the Daptex foam in addition to the foam plate cutouts for the switches.

Thank you so much to everyone for the replies.

 
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11-19-09, 02:08 PM   #11  
i got a decent assortment pak of insulated things from home depot for 2 bucks...PITA to find them though

 
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11-26-09, 09:54 AM   #12  
Duct tape. Works for everything.

 
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