How to remove a metal electric box

tom_p_paNovember 21, 2007

Any tips on how to remove a metal outlet box, the older ones that have "ears" on the top and bottom that are nailed into the studs. They are secured very well. I posted some time back regarding this, and someone mentioned to take a bar and bend it out. This seems to be destroying the wall. Any ideas. I am trying to replace the wire going from the outlet to the basement. So I need to remove the box, run new wires, and then use one of those old work boxes. And I am trying to avoid major drywall repairs.

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Use a sawsall with a metal cutting blade. Put the blade between the box and the stud and simply cut the nails. Suggest you replace the old metal boxes with heavy blue plastic remodel boxes.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 8:39PM
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To clarify...I will need to cut up into the sheetrock to cut the nail (similar on the bottom nail), so there is no real clean way to avoid drywall damage. The nail is probably 2 to 2.5 inches above the top of the box on the flange.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:13PM
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As Texas stated, Sawzall is the only way to go. You may have to hold the saw upside down to cut the upper nail from underneath.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:35PM
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I've done this many times with minimal wall damage. First, take a sheet rock saw and make a special, vertical cut all the way up the side of the box away from the stud; what you want to do is cut at a 45 degree angle so that the face of the sheetrock is not affected, but the backside is relieved. The reason you do this is to give yourself some room for the next step. Get a pry bar and insert it between the side of the box and the stud that it's nailed to; then pry so you get some clearance between the side of the box and the stud. the box will swing into the cavity and clear the sheetrock where you've relieved it. If the nails are short, you may actually be able to get the box pried far enough so that it comes free. If it doesn't, take a hack saw blade and wrap one end in tape to protect your hand, and then carefully cut through the nails at an angle so that you're not cutting the sheetrock. If you end up damaging the sheetrock, you have two other options. First, get an oversize wall plate that will cover the damage. Or, enlarge the hole sideways and make it big enough for a double receptacle box. One of these solutions should work for you.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 12:06AM
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This may be a slightly different tack that's worked for me in the past--

In the OP case, I'm visualizing a box with fairly long mounting straps attached. (That accounts for the nails being 2 or 2 1/2 inches above and below the box.)

Those straps...or ears...or mounting brackets (whatever you want to call 'em) are usually only spot-welded to the box at a couple of places. If you take a Sawzall (or hacksaw blade) and cut between the box and the strap, you should be able to separate them. (It might be possible to do this with a thin cold chisel as well, though that'd be messier.)

Once the strap is disconnected from the box, the box should be easy to remove, leaving you with a big hole to work out the strap.

If all else fails, take the Sawzall and cut through the strap at top and bottom of the outlet hole (being careful not to take too much out of the stud!). In this case, the strap segments will remain buried in the wall, but you should be able to ignore them when installing a replacement old work box, even if you have to bend them up and out of the way.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 10:08PM
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I want to thank terribletom for the advice. I faced the issue, bought a reciprocating saw and did the job - no problem, easy as pie. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 7:32AM
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