Plug sockets - wonky back boxes

Discussion in 'Electrics UK' started by MattB83, 2 Aug 2020.

  1. MattB83

    MattB83

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    I had an electrician in to initially change a couple of light switches and then another dozen sockets once we realised they didn't match the new switches (wish we hadn't started but I digress).

    The electrician asked me to have a look at the socket as he was having trouble getting the screws into the back box. The wall is tiled and, on reflection, the fact that there was a lot of mastic on the old sockets should have given away the fact I don't think they were ever flush with the tiles. However the back box wasn't attached to anything seemingly, the guy thought if the screws were tightened it would squeeze the back box against the tiles and hold the socket on but this didn't work. It looked like the box was wedged into place with some stones/bits of plaster and the wall behind (looked like the back of the brick wall) wasn't flat.

    I eventually managed to get one masonry screw through a central hole in the back box (plug was a double) which, although a bit wobbly was the best we could do. The plug is fairly firmly fixed on, just isn't very flat.

    I'm imagining that ideally I'd take out the back box and make sure I had some flat wall to fix a new one to? But it doesn't look like this could be done without taking tiles off so I'm thinking of using a bit of mastic to neaten the job up. It's not a high traffic plug (sits behind the coffee machine).

    All the kitchen sockets seemed to be causing the electrician a nightmare - I think it was the fact they were wonky which made it difficult to cut the screws to the right length and ended up snapping/threading several. Is this always a fiddly job?
     
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  3. EFLImpudence

    EFLImpudence

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    Well. obvious answer really.

    It's always a fiddly job if it is like yours.

    Done properly in the first place is no problem.


    Who did the tiling?
     
  4. MattB83

    MattB83

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    Previous occupier. For some of the sockets the hole isn't square (have not cut the corners completely out), so the boxes are well and truly stuck in there with little room or visibility to fix them onto the wall behind. I'm wondering if they've never been fixed on properly but they managed to 'pincer grip' the tiles between the box and the socket.

    I'll add it to the list of things we'll sort out properly when we eventually managed to do the place up. Nothing is ever simple in this house seemingly.
     
  5. MattB83

    MattB83

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    Thanks got your response.

    Meant to add - should back boxes be, essentially, sealed in by the tiles?

    It has given me a new appreciation for tradespeople, their ability to do a neat job is very dependent on who's done the work before them.
     
  6. Adam_151

    Adam_151

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    Yes and No (depending on what exactly you are asking)

    No - there is no need for the edges of the tiles to overlap the edge of the box, and this might indeed fowl some accesories, if this happens get a tile file and file the edge back while pressing the tile against the wall to stop it being pulled off just incase its loose.

    but then Yes - even with the tilling job done right, you'll not be able to get the box out without removing at least one tile (in most cases, for a loosly fitted box, with cables that come through the back you might get lucky)

    Are we talking about boxes which are wonkey by having the left and right at differnt heights from the floor, or wonky in terms of having the left and right recessed at different depths in the wall. I'm truggling to see why screws get stripped or snapped, did he run through with a rethreader if the threaded holes were tight, or just put more force behind it?
     
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  8. MattB83

    MattB83

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    Some of the boxes might come out with some filling, others are trapped in completely as the whole of the rectangle hasn't been cut out of the tiles - hard to describe the shape but it looks like it's deliberately holding the box in. The wires come through the bottom and top of the boxes.

    They are both wonky - left and right at different depths - and wobbly, moving when you tighten the screws, I think this contributed to over tightening as even after shortening the 75mm screws, as they were screwed in they hit the back of the box and stripped the thread.

    Does that make sense? So the socket that was particularly difficult to fix on has a back box that is held on (badly) by a single central screw into the wall.
     
  9. Adam_151

    Adam_151

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    Sorry to be stating the obvious, but if they hit the back of the box then they were not shortened enough! (and someone tried to keep going with tightening it)
     
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  10. MattB83

    MattB83

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    Yes - I don't like to be too negative when someone is trying to do their best to make a neat job of something someone's installed badly before themathem... however having this person over for two days.I do have some concerns about their standard of work.
     
  11. JohnD

    JohnD

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    You can trim and square off tiles using a multi cutter with a diamond blade. A half-moon blade helps you keep a straight cut and you can rotate it a little when it wears.
     
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  12. 333rocky333

    333rocky333

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    I wonder if it was done intentionally, without carefull measuring and working it out it can be hard to know where to put the boxes to get them in line with the tiles, I have worked on jobs where the boxes were left floating until the first or so row of tiles were fitted and then the boxes fitted where needbe.

    On the other hand i worked on a job where the boxes were cemented in, the glass splashback measured after, cut and fitted by others, on return to second fix, the cutouts were too low and about 2 mill gap left above the socket and some were cut out to small for the sockets guts to go in.

    Another job the tiler pulled the sockets forward and slid the tiles behind nice, then the householder wanted the sockets updated, trouble was the cables now so short you could hardly get fingers behind to get them in.

    So yes a simple job can be a nightmare.
     
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