How To Replace A Small Electrical Box With A Larger One

If you have bought an old home and are going to be updating the electrical system, you will usually run into an issue with the size of the electrical boxes. New modern wire cable insulation is larger than the materials used years ago and you can have a difficult time fitting the new wires inside the old electrical box. To solve the problem, you need to go to the hardware store to buy a box with a deeper cavity with enough room to house the wires that can't fit into the smaller box. Replacing an electrical box is not very difficult and most homeowners can do it by themselves. Here is how you can replace a small electrical box with a larger one.

Turn off Electricity

Turn the power to the outlet off at the main service panel. Use a circuit tester to make sure the electricity is off for your safety. A circuit tester has a red and black prong and a light on it. Put the prongs into both halves of the outlet. If the light doesn't come on, you are safe to work; but if it does come on, you need to turn off other breakers at the main panel until it goes off.

Remove Outlet

Remove the top and bottom screw holding the outlet to the electrical box. Take the wires off of the outlet and set it aside.

Remove Old Electrical Box

Electrical boxes in old homes were typically nailed to the studs in the wall. Take a reciprocating saw and cut through the nails between the side of the box and the wall.

Tie Wires Together

You should tie the wires together so they don't fall into the wall when you pull the box out. Bundle up the wires from each cable in the box and tie them together with string. Place electrical tape around the wire and string to hold them together. Make sure you don't mix the wires from different cables together or they won't slide out of the electrical box.

Disconnect Locknuts for Cables

The cables and the wires in them are held inside the electrical box with a clamps or locknuts. Remove the clamp or locknuts.

Remove Box

Take out the electrical box. The cables and wires will slide through knockout holes on the side or back of the box as you remove the box. Hold onto the string so they don't fall into the wall. Once the box is removed, tape the wires to the wall.

Install New Box

Punch out the knockout tabs on the new electrical box with a screwdriver and hammer. Knockout tabs are the round sections on the electrical box that the cables and wires go through. Remove one tab for each cable of wire.

Slide the cables and wires through the knockout holes and secure them with clamps or locknuts. Place the box into the opening in the wall. The new box will come with flexible brackets. Slide the brackets in between the wall and box until the tabs of the bracket line up with the edge of the wall. Bend the tabs so they clamp down over the side of the box with a pair of needle-nose pliers to keep the box from moving.

Re-insert the outlet and turn on the power. Test the outlet with your circuit tester to make sure everything works okay.