Repairing Loose Outlets In Plaster Walls

Posted on: 20 January 2016

Do you have plaster walls with loose electrical outlets? Do your outlets push into the wall when you plug something into them? Your outlets should be secured to a stud to prevent them from moving around. Below, you will find out how to make this relatively easy repair.

Find the Studs

This can be a tricky part of making the repair. Generally, the outlet should have been installed using the stud in the wall to support it, but sometimes, especially in older homes, the outlet isn't located aside the stud. Here are a few tricks that can help you locate the stud nearest to the outlet.

  1. Use a stud finder tool – these gadgets usually do well finding the studs in the wall, but sometimes, they fail, or maybe you don't have one.
  2. Magnet test – hang a very strong magnet to a piece of string. Move the magnet slowly across the wall until it sticks to the wall. When it sticks, you have found the nails holding the wood lath onto the stud. You may have to move to different heights before you find the nails, but eventually, the strong magnet will pinpoint the location of the stud.
  3. Drill holes – this is a very destructive method of finding those studs, but it will work. Use a small drill bit to drill holes in the areas where you think the studs are located. Eventually, you will feel the change in pressure that it takes to drill through. When you find an area with the most resistance, you have found your stud.

Make the Repair

After you have located the stud nearest to the outlet, turn off the power to the outlet at your breaker panel. Remove the screws holding the outlet in place. Label the wiring so that you can quickly reconnect it after you have moved it.

Position the back side of the outlet back box on the wall lining it up with the stud and trace around it with a pencil. Use a drill to drill a small hole in the area where the outlet will be installed. Insert the tip of a keyhole saw – or power rotary cutting tool into the hole and follow the line that you have traced to cut a hole the size of the box.

Reach through the hole to grab the wiring and move it to the new location. If you cannot reach it with your hand, use a bent wire clothes hanger to reach into the hole and pull it to where you can reach it.

Drill holes into the stud to secure the box into the stud with screws. Position the box and insert and tighten the screws. Feed the wiring through the outlet back box, connect it to your outlet and secure the outlet in the box with screws.

Replace the outlet cover and your replacement project is complete.

Repair the Old Hole

Once you have moved the outlet, you will be left with an old hole. This can be an easy fix for you to complete. Go to your local hardware store and pick up a plaster hole patch repair kit. Inside that kit, you will find a can of plaster, netting to cover the hole, sandpaper and instructions.

You will cover the hole with the netting, apply the plaster, wait for it to dry and then sand it smooth. Once the patch work is complete, apply a coat of primer and then paint to finish the job.

If you are uncomfortable making these repairs, contact a company like Painting By Jerry Wind