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5 Minute Project: Fix a stripped outlet

5 Minute Project: Fix a stripped outlet

by Ethan Hagan (email Ethan) | | June 5, 2013 | 14 Comments »

Editors Note: Today we’re featuring a guest contribution by Jeff from Tool Box Buzz.

My wife and I had our first kid 3 months ago and since then we’ve been working room by room doing some minor baby proofing. In a couple of rooms there are outlets with stripped screws so that they are not secured to the junction box anymore. Instead of opening up the wall and replacing the box, it’s way easier and faster to drill and tap the holes up to the next larger size bolt. So in the interest of keeping our baby from using the outlet as a handle it was time to fix them.


Step 1

Gather your tools and turn off the power. From left to right: Screwdriver, Klein 6-1 tapping tool, #29 drill bit, various lengths of 8-32 machine bolts, cordless drill/driver. If tapping to a size other than 8-32 consult this chart for proper drill bit sizing.


Step 2

Confirm that the power really is off. Use a lamp if you don’t have a voltage detector.

Step 3

Unscrew outlet fasteners (leave wiring connected) and pull outlet to the side. Drill out the stripped junction box.


Step 4

Use the tapping tool and slowly turn it into the junction box. Be sure the wires are pulled to the side since the tap protrudes into the box. Also make sure to back the tap up every so often to clear the cutters. In my plastic boxes I backed off a half turn for every full turn forward.


Step 5

Use the 8-32 bolts and reinstall your outlet taking care to fold the wires back into the box.


Step 6

Show your significant other your work so that they know how handy you are.


About This Tool

The Klein Tools 626 Cushion-Grip Six in One Tapping Tool can be found on Amazon for around $24 with free shipping. While you may only need 6-32 and 8-32 sizes for electrical outlets and fixtures I use the rest of the taps for other things especially the 1/4-20 tap. The handle is made in the USA, but taps are made in China.


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14 Responses to 5 Minute Project: Fix a stripped outlet

  • poiboybf responds...
    June 5th, 2013 7:53 am

    Helpful guide, Jeff, thanks! That tapping tool looks cool. I have only ever used a power drill for tapping, but hand tapping actually makes more sense to me, since you can use a more careful touch. Good luck with your baby. Ours is 5 months now.


  • baschleicher responds...
    June 5th, 2013 9:05 am

    Nice tip, thanks!


  • jb @BuildingMoxie responds...
    June 5th, 2013 9:16 am

    thanks for the tool tip Jeff. I have an double gang surface mount box that is in need of some this action. I’ll look for it next time I’m in the electrical aisle. ~jb


  • Reuben responds...
    June 5th, 2013 9:25 am

    Wow. I have never heard of an outlet being stripped before, but this is a useful tutorial. I didn’t realize a person could buy taps in convenient hand-tool style. I guess the only taps I’ve ever used are my father’s set (which his father probably bought in the 50’s), which are quite different. I will keep this in mind.



  • Joe responds...
    June 5th, 2013 10:07 am

    do you really need to drill it out to get to the next size up? it looks like the stripped hole would be just about the right size for the next size up tap…


    Joe Reply:

    oh, and nice tutorial, I Think I have a box that is stripped, but its not stripped so badly that it pulls out of the wall, I should pick up one of these taps just in case though, so I can fix it next time I open up the box.


    jeff_williams Reply:

    The drill makes it a lot easier. I probably could have forced it in but it was way faster to drill it out. If it was a metal box, drilling first is the only option.


  • HANDYMAN51 responds...
    June 5th, 2013 12:28 pm

    Nice tutorial. Makes me wonder if the hole getting stripped might have been caused by a user pulling the cord to get the plug out, especially since it’s a plastic box. ALWAYS pull the plug out directly from the receptacle. An electrician once told me that using the childproof plastic receptacle plugs sometimes create problems when the plastic prongs break off in the slots, creating the need to replace the outlet.


    jeff_williams Reply:

    The most common reason that these get stripped is because the wires behind do not get tucked in correctly or a person pulls sideways on a cord to unplug. Pulling straight out on the cord exerts the same force on the outlet as a person pulling on the plug.


  • NicF responds...
    June 6th, 2013 7:25 am

    Nice tutorial, really need to pick up one of those hand taps, think that could come in handy in a few different places


    supimeister Reply:

    I agree – those hand taps seem like a great affordable investment for various needs!


  • MissFixIt responds...
    June 6th, 2013 9:37 pm

    I always like to show off my work too lol nice job


  • paintergal responds...
    June 7th, 2013 11:20 pm

    Hmm, pretty sure we have a couple of outlets that need tending to. Thanks for the tips!


  • trebor responds...
    June 8th, 2013 9:23 am

    Had never heard of a tapping tool. Thanks for the easy tutorial!


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