Help! My Wall Outlet Moves When I Plug Things In

On the list of Things You Don't Want to Mess With, we'd put "bears" and "electrical currents" right at the top. So a squeamish electrical outlet—one that wiggles as you plug something into it—seems like a problem that's going to need a professional, right? Probably not. If you've got a loose outlet—or an outlet that needs to be raised or lowered to match the thickness of your wall—there's an easy $3 fix.

If your outlet is loose when you go to plug something in, the problem is likely that the outlet doesn't fit snugly between the electrical box and the cover plate.

It seems harmless enough, but a loose electrical outlet could result in unsightly cracked and broken faceplates or even fire-hazard arc faults.

But this low-brow problem has an easy solution: Outlet spacers. They're little plastic pieces that wedge between the electrical box and the outlet for a better fit.


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You can grab a $3 pack of outlet spacers online or at most hardware stores and they're a cinch to install: Just cut power to the outlet and wedge 'em around the screw holding your loose outlet to the electrical box until there's a tight fit. Voila!


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These spacers also work well to bring an outlet flush with a thicker wall. If you're planning on installing bead board, stone or any other wall enhancement with thickness, you'll probably want to grab a set like these. They can "Lego" on to each other to bring an outlet up flush with your new wall.


(Images: Flickr member Peter Sunna licensed for use under Creative Commons, HomeBUilding.TheFunTimesGuide.com)

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Taryn is a writer, maker, designer, and editor of lifestyle blog Formal Fringe. She lives in an apartment in Atlanta with her fiancé, their Boston Terrier and lots of serving dishes.