Thread stuck in socket!

4 Apr 2005
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United Kingdom
Hi, when we took a power socket off the wall we stupidly broke the screw and there is some thread stuck inside the hole in the metal plate where the screw should go in. We've tried pulling it or pushing it out but it won't budge so we can't screw the socket back on the wall at the moment! Any ideas how to get it out or should we get an electrician in to take the thing apart or put a new metal part in?!
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As I understand the problem, the screw stub is stuck in the box (metal or plastic) which is in/on the wall behind the socket. If you can't unscrew the stub with pliers, as Pompeygit suggests, you could replace the box and then re-fit the existing socket.
Opps, didn't read that one very well.

If it is stuck in the back box just replace the back box as Mickbee suggests
yeah it's stuck in the back box hole, not the plastic socket front that screws on the wall - otherwise we'd just get a new plastic front! so is it easy to replace the back box, or should we get an electrician in - bearing in mind we are total novices!
If it's a metal back box and if your screw is in the floating toggle then you can remove screw remnants and the toggle and take a new toggle from a 75p back box.

If its not the flaoting toggle side the metal clip that the screw fastens on to is part of the box and will require replacement.

Replacing back boxes can rattle the plaster and mortar around the box and lead to a re-plaster and re-decoration requirement.


Floating toggle is on RHS and as you can see is a simple clip to fit on the main box body.
In theory, replacing the back box is easy - in practice there can be snags.
If the wall is plaster on brick/block, the metal box will probably have been screwed in to the brick and filler used around the edges. With luck, the screw will come out without breaking, and a sharp knife around the edges will separate box from filler without damaging the filler too much. Buy a new metal box (of the same depth) and grommet (rubber ring to shield the cable) and fit it - better to use a new screw and wallplug than re-use the old. Hope this helps.
you could put a skeleton patrice over the existing box and drill and fix to the wall,no damage to decs then.wont stand that far proud either.
best idea if its the floating lug,is to buy another box and rob the lug out of it as previously suggested
if it was me, I would first try to grip the stub with pliers or moles and twist it out, if no joy try a small drill. The vibration and torque may well screw it through the tab

You can buy a re-threading tool for a few pounds of the hole is damaged but not oversized.
I use a pair of pliers to snap the remainder of the stub as flush with the lug as possible, and then use a small drill (about 2.5mm) to remove the rest of the stub. Then rethread the lug mith an M3.5 tap.

Much easier that replacing a box, and less damage too.
Older back boxes were made with imperial 'BA' threads. Trouble is you can wind a metric screw into the thread, but it shears off just as you try to fully tighten it, or when you try to undo it. That might be what got you into trouble in the first place.

If you get the remains of the screw out, a re-threading tool would put a metric thread in the box to stop it happening again.

In the past I have cut a couple of slots along the length of a machine screw with a junior hacksaw, then wound it through the hole to restore a damaged thread.
Or yet another option.....
Remove the knackered lug of the equation full stop. Fully tighten the screw on the good lug. Now with care (i.e. with no cables in the way) get an appropriate drill bit (3mm drill?) and drill thru the screw hole directly into the very back of the back-box. Untighten the faceplate and pop an M3.5 rethreader thru the drilled hole. All you need to do now is put a longer M3.5 screw in to fix it.
Piece of cake!
I agree with Daviss. If you have the rethreading tool, this is a really quick solution. You can normally bend the lug back out of the way using a hammer and an old screwdriver.

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