How to Straighten Crooked Outlets

Having crooked or misaligned outlets can be an eyesore and create safety hazards in your home. Thankfully, there are several effective methods for straightening them out. With some basic DIY skills and the right tools, you can easily fix crooked outlets and restore them to proper alignment.

Why It’s Important to Have Straight Outlets

There are a few key reasons why you’ll want to take the time to straighten crooked outlets:

  • Aesthetics – Crooked outlets simply look bad and messy. Straightening them will instantly improve the look of your walls and rooms.
  • Safety – Properly aligned outlets help ensure full contact with plug prongs for secure connections. Loose connections can lead to shorts, sparks, fires, and shocks.
  • Functionality – With crooked outlets, plugs may partially pull out accidentally or not fit properly. This can interrupt power flow. Straight outlets enhance usability.
  • Resale value – Homes with neat, orderly electrical outlets have higher perceived quality and value. It’s worth straightening them to boost curb appeal.

Now that you know why it pays to fix crooked outlets, let’s go over some quick steps for straightening them.

How to Tell if an Outlet is Crooked

The first step is evaluating if your outlet is truly crooked and in need of realignment. Here are some signs that an outlet may be installed incorrectly and uneven:

  • The outlet box itself appears tilted or slanted on the wall.
  • Faceplate screws are not aligned vertically. One may be higher than the other.
  • There is a visible gap between the outlet and the wall plate on one side.
  • Plugs are loose or partly fall out when inserted. They should fit snugly.
  • You see sparks or prongs only partially make contact when plugging in devices.
  • Receptacles on opposite sides of the same box are misaligned.
  • Circuit breakers trip or fuses blow frequently, signalling a wiring issue.

Any of these are telltale signs that your outlet was not installed properly and needs adjusting for aesthetics and performance.

Materials and Tools You’ll Need

Straightening an outlet is a simple, fast job, but you need a few essential materials and tools:


  • New wall plate – It’s best to install a fresh, clean wall plate once the outlet is straightened for a finished look.
  • Shims – Small wooden or plastic shims are extremely helpful for propping and holding the outlet box in proper alignment as you work.
  • Electrical tape – Used to hold together outlet components during the repair and for extra insulation.


  • Voltage tester – Essential for confirming the outlet is dead before working on it. Safety first!
  • Screwdriver – Usually a #2 Phillips head screwdriver gets outlet screws and terminal screws loose.
  • Needle-nose pliers – Helpful for gripping wires when disconnecting and reconnecting them to the outlet terminals.
  • Drywall saw – For cutting drywall if enlarging the outlet box to reposition it is needed. A utility knife can also work.
  • Vacuum brush – To clear outlet box of dust, debris, and drywall fragments after alterations.
  • Stud finder – Helps locate studs if needing to resecure outlet box. Prevents drilling into hidden wiring.
  • Drill & drill bits – Necessary if securing the outlet box requires new screw holes. Match bit to screw size.

With these supplies on hand, you can tackle aligning any crooked outlet successfully. Always turn off the power at the breaker before starting.

Step-by-Step Guide to Straightening Outlets

With the right materials prepped, here is a step-by-step walkthrough to straighten wall outlets precisely:

1. Turn Off Power Supply

Safety first! Locate the appropriate breaker for the outlet and switch it to OFF. Use a voltage tester to confirm power is dead before touching any wires. This might require flipping multiple breakers if you’re unsure which controls the outlet.

2. Remove the Faceplate

Unscrew and remove the wall plate covering the outlet to expose the outlet box. This will reveal the extent of misalignment and give you access.

3. Disconnect Wires

The next step is disconnecting the outlet from the supply wires so you can move and position it freely. Use a screwdriver to loosen the terminal screws on the sides of the outlet. Then gently remove each wire. Be organized and note wire locations to simplify reconnecting later. Use tape to keep wires together.

4. Detach Outlet

With wires disconnected, unscrew the outlet from the electrical box within the wall framing. Try jiggling it out carefully without straining too much to avoid damage.

5. Evaluate Box Alignment

Examine how squarely the outlet box itself is seated in the wall framing. Use a level to check. If it’s crooked, you will need to detach it and straighten the box before resetting the outlet.

6. Enlarge Box if Needed

If repositioning the existing outlet box won’t square it up properly, you may need to detach it from the framing and use a drywall saw to enlarge the cutout space around the box. This gives some wiggle room to realign the box.

7. Reposition the Box

Whether the box just needs twisting or you’ve enlarged the opening, go ahead and adjust it to be flush and level with the wall surface. Temporary shims/spacers can help hold it in the proper position.

8. Resecure Box

If enlarging the cutout, you’ll need new screw holes to reattach the outlet box firmly in its new straight alignment. Pre-drill fresh holes into a stud if possible and use wallboard anchors if not. Secure the box.

9. Reinstall Outlet

With the box realigned flush to the wall, screw the outlet back into place so that the receptacles face squarely forward. Double check for level. This is easier with an extra set of hands.

10. Reconnect Wires

Refer to your labels or notes to reconnect all the wires to their original terminal screw locations. Follow manufacturer wire color codes. Wrap connections clockwise, keep wires tidy, and secure terminals tightly.

11. Affix New Wall Plate

Once wires are reattached safely, the final step is installing a new wall plate that fits snugly over the now straightened outlet. Screw corners firmly in place for a clean finish.

12. Restore Power and Test

Carefully flip the breaker back on to restore power supply. Use your voltage tester to confirm everything is reconnected properly before using the outlet. Plug in devices and make sure they fit right and function as desired.

And that’s it! With a bit of vigilance and some fundamental electrical DIY skills, you can remedy crooked outlets yourself in under an hour, enhancing both aesthetics and safety. If you have any lingering concerns or encounter complex wiring, never hesitate to call a professional electrician for assistance. But otherwise, take pride in your outlet adjustment project.

Common Questions about Fixing Crooked Outlets

Straightening electrical outlets is usually fast and straightforward when done properly. Here are some common questions that arise:

How hard is it to align an outlet myself?

With adequate care, safety precautions, and the right tools, most homeowners can realign a slightly crooked outlet on their own in 30-60 minutes without too much hassle. It just takes some familiarity with fundamental electrical skills. Enlisting an electrician friend’s help can also make it easier.

What if the outlet box itself is crooked?

You’ll need to detach the box from the wall studs and enlarge the hole a bit if necessary to reposition the box flush and level. Having extra playroom to work with makes properly realigning the box much easier. Just be sure to resecure it firmly.

Should I replace the outlet while I’m straightening it?

It’s not necessary but recommended, especially if the current outlet is very old, damaged or doesn’t have a ground. Upgrading to a fresh outlet with a protective ground is wise as long as you confirm the box is grounded. A new wall plate also finishes the job best.

What’s the easiest way to straighten an outlet?

Using shims and spacers (like playing cards or popsicle sticks) when resecuring the outlet and box makes aligning them for levelness easier. Also having an extra set of hands helps with positioning while fastening in place.

How do I keep outlets straight when I plug in cords?

Be cautious not to pull too hard or wiggle cords in outlets, which can gradually skew their alignment over time. Consider using outlet wall anchors or supports if you routinely unplug devices by tugging the cords themselves.

Is it OK to leave slightly crooked outlets as is?

It’s generally recommended to fully straighten noticeably crooked or slanted outlets whenever feasible. Even small deviations can loosen plug connections or place strain on components. For optimal safety and performance, properly aligned outlets are ideal.

As long as you take the repair step-by-step and exercise due caution when dealing with electrical wiring, you can perfect the alignment of crooked outlets like a pro. Just be sure to turn off power first and reconnect wires meticulously. With practice, it becomes a simple fix!

Warnings and Precautions for Straightening Outlets

While adjusting crooked outlets is usually straightforward, there are some important warnings and precautions to keep in mind:

  • Always turn off power at the breaker and verify it’s dead using a voltage tester before working. Electrocution hazards are severe with outlets.
  • With the power off, disconnect wires one at a time, taking photos if needed to remember where they were attached. Mixing up wires can cause dangerous shorts.
  • Ensure you are realigning the box and outlet properly, not just forcing them to appear straight which could bend components.
  • Do not overtighten terminal screws when reconnecting wires to the new outlet and risk damaging the threads. Snug is enough.
  • Take care not to drill new screw holes into hidden electrical wires inside the wall when securing outlets or boxes. Use a stud finder first.
  • Apply electrical tape to exposed wire connections for additional insulation and safety once wiring is complete.
  • Double check for functionality by plugging in devices and testing power flow before leaving an outlet you’ve adjusted.
  • Any sign of sparks, sizzling, melted plastic or smoke means something is wrong. Stop work immediately and call an electrician if you notice these.
  • If an outlet repair is beyond your skill level, hire a professional electrician. Don’t take risks with complex wiring issues or unfamiliar connections.

Exercising thoughtful caution goes a long way toward staying safe while revamping your outlets! Take it slow, follow protocol, and ask for help when unsure.

Fix Crooked Outlets in 5 Additional Rooms

Straightening uneven and poorly aligned electrical outlets benefits your entire home. Here is guidance for addressing crooked outlets in 5 other common rooms:

1. Bedroom

Bedrooms often have various outlets placed sporadically on different walls, making them prone to alignment issues. Check bedside lamps, alarm clocks and other frequently used plugs for fit and stability.

2. Kitchen

With countertop appliances and nearby water sources, kitchen outlets experience heavy use and moisture exposure that can gradually skew their positioning. Proper alignment is crucial.

3. Bathroom

Due to the wet environment, bathroom electrical demands special water-resistant outlets that comply with codes. Straighten them to prevent any moisture incursion or shock risks.

4. Home office

The multitude of tech devices and chargers powered in home offices lead to outlet wear. Periodically inspect alignment and straighten outlets that have become uneven.

5. Basement / garage

Outlets exposed to dust, grime and temperature swings in these spaces often become looser and more crooked over time. Check them before problems arise.

Inspecting and straightening any suspect outlets throughout your home ensures electrical safety and ideal functioning in every room. Add it to your routine maintenance checklist.

Outlet-Straightening Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some key electrical dos and don’ts when fixing crooked outlets to keep in mind:


  • Turn off power at the breaker before starting
  • Use a voltage tester to confirm electricity is off
  • Discconnect and reconnect wires one at a time
  • Label wires to preserve correct hookup locations
  • Anchor outlet boxes firmly to studs when possible
  • Leave a little wire slack to prevent strain
  • Wrap wire connections clockwise
  • Tug test outlets after installation to check snugness


  • Work on live outlets
  • Allow bare wire strands to touch and create shorts
  • Overtighten terminal screws
  • Leave excess box cutout space unfilled
  • Install outlets without a proper ground
  • Bend wires sharply or jam too tightly into boxes
  • Draw power from extension cords permanently
  • Install outlets horizontally rather than vertically

Adhering to these electrical safety fundamentals will help your outlet repairs go smoothly and safely. Take it step-by-step.


Having evenly aligned, aesthetically pleasing electrical outlets enhances the look of any room while also boosting safety. Crooked, uneven outlets can detract from your home’s appearance while posing fire and shock hazards in some cases. Thankfully, with the right DIY skills and tools, straightening outlets is usually a fast, uncomplicated process. Carefully turn off power, detach the outlet components, reposition the box flush if needed, then reset the outlet neatly in place. Avoid drilling into hidden wiring and reunite all wires precisely. Installing fresh outlet and wall plate finishes the job for a polished look. Showcase your home’s appeal through orderly, squared-off outlets offering reliable power flow in every room.

Final Tips

  • Invest in high-quality outlets with robust terminal screws and impact-resistant housing for longevity
  • Periodically check your home’s outlets for alignment, wear and grounding
  • Replace aging outlets that show corrosion or damage
  • Keep cords organized and avoid plugging too many devices into one outlet
  • Label breakers clearly so you know which control each outlet
  • If an outlet sparks, smokes or has a burning smell, turn off power immediately and call an electrician
  • For heavy-duty workshop tools, consider upgrading to 20-amp outlet circuits
  • Ensure outlet spacing accounts for large furniture positioning when remodeling
  • Never plug power strips or extension cords into other extenders to avoid overloading
  • Consider tamper-resistant outlets if you have young children

With attention and care, properly aligned outlets will enhance your home’s safety and visual appeal for years to come. Be diligent, work methodically, and upgrade any crooked electrical outlets that could benefit from straightening.