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How to fix loose electrical outlets

Updated July 20, 2017

Exposed electrical wires may cause damage to objects and pose a severe fire risk. Contact might also bring injury to those coming in contact with the wires. Wires can become loose over time if not maintained properly. A slight movement in the cover of the outlet can cause the wires to slip. Immediately repair the loose outlets and re-tuck the wires inside the walls.

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  1. Turn off your home's main power switch, or the main breaker contained in the fuse box. This will prevent possible electrocution while you fix the loose electrical socket.

  2. Snap off the cover of the outlet using a flathead screwdriver. Unscrew the screws at the sides of the outlet cover with your screwdriver.

  3. Pull the outlet box from the wall without disconnecting any wires. Locate the blue tab on the top-right corner of the box. You should also see a clamp holding the outlet box to the wall.

  4. Loosen the screws securing the blue tab. Hide the support pieces of the outlet; place them behind the wall to make it easier to tighten the clamp.

  5. Stick the shims of the outlet through the opening; place them at the bottom and top edges of the outlet opening. Use electrical tape to stick your bottom shim in place. Use caulk to stick the top shim.

  6. Place the electrical box into your wall and retighten the clamps with a screwdriver.

  7. Replace the outlet cover with the outlet-cover screws, tightening them with your screwdriver. Turn on the main breaker to return power to the electrical wiring.

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Things You'll Need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Electrical tape
  • Caulking
  • Caulking tool
  • Shims

About the Author

Sherry Feder

Based in New Hope, Penn., Sherry Feder has been writing computer-related articles since 1987. Her work has appeared in “Inc.” and “Business 2.0” magazines and online at Wired. Feder received the John Goldenberg Award in 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Science in management information systems from the University of Central Florida.

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