Electrical Outlet Extender

Learn how to shim out electrical boxes with an extender

An electrical extender box
From Amazon

If you have an electrical box that is too far in the wall, a quick fix is a box extender. These are box-shaped rings that vary in size and depth. They are placed over the existing box face to flush the face out even with the face of the wall.

You probably have encountered an electric box with a switch or outlet that is set in too deeply within the wall to allow a cover plate to be installed. simply trying to tighten the screw on the wall plate to make up the gap only causes the wall plate to crack.

Or maybe the switch or outlet wasn't secured tightly because the box is set back too far. By using these rings, you can have a flush finish without having to remove the old box and replace it with a new one.

Depending on the type of wall material you have, whether drywall or the older plaster walls, the removing of an old electrical box to replace it with a new cut-in box may cause more damage than good. Some may say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." While the statement often holds true and sound advice, I'd like to see you use an extender ring to make it perfect.

Choose the Correct Extension Ring

Choosing the right depth extension rings may require you to use a ruler to find out the depth of the electrical box opening to the wall to make it flush with the wall. Once you determine this distance, you can select the closest extension ring to the desired depth, but without going over. Using an electrical box extender, often referred to as an extension ring, is fast and easy, as long as you can follow these few simple steps.

Installing the Box Extender

The first step to installing a box extender is to turn off the circuit that you'll be working on. Go to your electrical panel, whether it be a circuit breaker panel or fuse panel, and look at the listing chart on the door to identify the right circuit breaker or fuse.

Then simply remove the switch or outlet and slip the ring over the device.

It is likely that you'll need longer 6/32" screws to reattach the device, due to the added thickness. Depending on the depth of the extension ring, the existing wiring may or may not be long enough to make the connection and allow the switch or outlet to be installed. If wire length becomes an issue, simply add a pigtail wire to each connection to lengthen the wiring and allow a simple connection. 

Once the wiring connection is made to the device, attach the switch or outlet to the new extension ring and tighten securely. Be sure the device is hanging level or plumb and then you can install the cover plate. 

The next step is to return to the electrical panel and to turn the circuit breaker or fuse back on. Now test the outlet with a tester or turn the switch on to test the switch. If the light lights or the outlet is working, you have successfully installed a box extender. 

Box extenders are often used in remodeling homes where you may be adding a layer of drywall over an existing plaster wall. Instead of tearing out every existing electrical box and replacing them with new ones, it's a simple task to add these simple extensions to the existing electrical boxes. 

Generally, these box extenders come in a plastic model, but there are metal box extenders available as well.

Both of these box extender types come in various depths that can solve the problem for you when remodeling. So the next time you have an electrical box too far in the wall, don't use nuts, tape, cardboard, or chewing gum to flush out a device, use a box extender. They work great and are easy to install. You'll be glad you did!