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Old 12-01-2017, 04:55 PM
 
Location: Rust'n in Tustin
2,635 posts, read 3,033,152 times
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Ever since I moved in, one of the light switch plates has been loose. When I took it off today, I found one of the screws that holds the switch to the box was broken off flush. Any ideas on how to get the screw out, without the head on it.

It's similar to this picture

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Old 12-01-2017, 06:48 PM
 
Location: WMHT
4,129 posts, read 4,356,596 times
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Depends what tools you have, or have a desire to own.
  • Broken screw extractor
  • Use a small file (or a dremel type tool) to cut a slot into the remnants of the screw, then carefully back it out with a flathead screwdriver
  • Shave down the plastic around the screw until you can grab it with needlenose or locking pliers.
etc, etc.
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Old 12-02-2017, 05:49 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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This is going to be tricky. Can you just replace the box?

If not, buy a dremel.
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Old 12-02-2017, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Those screws may be too small to work with unless you do cut away some of the plastic to expose the screw so you can grab it with pliers.
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Old 12-02-2017, 08:31 AM
 
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Another vote for replacing the box. Even if you need to cut out and patch the sheetrock around it so you have better access, it will still be less frustrating than trying to remove the screw.

If it's a box like you've shown, all you need to do is remove the screw on the left side. If it's a nailed on box, you can use a sawzall or hacksaw to cut the nails. Pull the old box out, fish in the wires, and reconnect everything. (Turn off the power first!)
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Old 12-02-2017, 10:48 AM
 
11,574 posts, read 16,620,344 times
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Does your box also have along screw sleeve? If so, just cut a small piece of the sleeve away and use a needle nose to unscrew the screw. No need to replace an entire box which also requires you to remove the outlet/switch and wires; way too much unnecessary complication for a small job! You can replace the broken screw with a long one (the box is designed to take long screws as well as short ones).
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Old 12-02-2017, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Brawndo-Thirst-Mutilator-Nation
19,662 posts, read 20,183,998 times
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Obviously turn off power first.

I would just try to pull on the box until it came out, then remove the screw. Or if it does not want to come out, get some heavy-duty cutters and cut out the box around the screw, then grab the screw and remove it.
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Old 12-03-2017, 03:31 PM
 
Location: NC
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Crazy idea, but why not use a wooden toothpick or two to fill in the space around the screw? Just hammer it/them in until the box no longer wobbles.
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Old 12-03-2017, 09:59 PM
 
Location: Rust'n in Tustin
2,635 posts, read 3,033,152 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luv4horses View Post
Crazy idea, but why not use a wooden toothpick or two to fill in the space around the screw? Just hammer it/them in until the box no longer wobbles.
No, the screw that holds the switch to the box is broken off flush, so there's no way to attach the switch firmly to the box.

I have to remove the broken off screw shaft, then I can put in a new screw.
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:34 AM
 
11,252 posts, read 6,142,291 times
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It may be impossible to get the remaining part of the screw out without destroying the box. Some goofus with more muscle than brain has torqued the screw down till the head snapped off. You only need to tighten it enough to keep the outlet or switch from flopping around. The remaining part of the screw is likely to be very tightly jammed into the plastic boss of the box.

Your best bet is probably to break the box up and get it out of there, then install an "old work" box which has little wings that secure it to the drywall. I suspect that trying to get the screw out without destroying the box will take hours of effort, blood sweat and swears, and in the end you'll have to replace the box anyway.
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