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#190171 11/08/09 01:29 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,770
Likes: 14
Does anyone replace the factory supplied screws on devices before they install them?
I was cleaning up my garage and came across a box of 1" 6-32 screws my wife found on a job and I tracked them back to the electrician. When I asked him about it he said he always throws away the screws that are on the device and puts in "real" ones. He said the ones on the devices strip out too easy and he prefers a regular phillips from a real screw company. I watched him a minute and it didn't really slow him down.
Is that common?

Greg Fretwell
gfretwell #190172 11/08/09 01:37 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 853
I'll say NO.

leland #190176 11/08/09 03:33 AM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 763
I just use the screws that come with the devices. Unless maybe it's a 30A or 50A flush receptacle that still comes with those straight flat head screws from 1975.
Normally the only time I use alternate hardware is when I need to use an extension ring, in which case I usually use 6/32 X 1-1/2" screws.
Has your man checked out the price of screws in the last few years? They are not cheap anymore, but they are cheap crap from Taiwan and China, regardless of the name on the box.
Now, when it comes to light fixtures... sometimes that's a different story. Those "8/32" screws they come with are a loose fit even for the crappy straps that come with the fixtures. I will often use my own 8/32 X 1-1/2" screws in place of them.

KJay #190177 11/08/09 03:38 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,770
Likes: 14
Thanks I was curious. I do notice the screws he had were nicer than the ones that come with devices. They might even be hardened.

BTW the other day in the chinese drywall house, every device I pulled was in there with drywall screws. (plastic box)

Greg Fretwell
gfretwell #190178 11/08/09 04:06 AM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 763
Well... judging from the mud job in the pics, I guess it would have to be expected.
That sort of leads me to wonder if maybe there is an actual violation to using drywall screws in place of machine screws to secure devices in NM boxes.
I know Iíve done it myself before in a pinch, but never really gave it much thought.

You say your man maybe using stainless... he is out of control!
I will sometimes do that do with outside receptacles, but not as an every day thing, since the screws will probably last longer than the receptacles.

KJay #190182 11/08/09 12:21 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,770
Likes: 14
They aren't stainless screws they look like they may be hardened tho. They do seem to punch into a poorly threaded box ear easier than the stock screw with no thread damage and the head fits the phillips bit a whole lot better that the "whatever you have" head design.
I can see why he likes them
Stainless screws are actually pretty soft. I do use stainless screws on outside boxes at my house but I am the one who will have to get then out in a year or two.

The only problem I see with using drywall screws in plastic boxes is you have no fall back position when they strip.
When I saw the first one, I assumed he stripped out a 6-32 but they all seemed to be drywall screws. I guess he figured they were just faster or maybe he didn't like the originals with his power driver too. Drywall screws are "free" when the rockers leave. They are pretty much everywhere.

Greg Fretwell
gfretwell #190184 11/08/09 12:44 PM
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 362
Drywall screw sometime crack the plastic box I have seen this alot and usally have to replace with a smart boxtype of box. As for box screws I agree with Kjay. I do however keep my truck stocked with all size 8 & 6 32, 10x24, 10,32. Doing as much service I find it very helpful.


Choose your customers, don't let them choose you.
Obsaleet #190191 11/08/09 08:34 PM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 745
Aren't drywall screws meant for fastening drywall to the studs? I can't see any other application where they would be approved, especially due to their brittle construction. They snap when you look at them the wrong way. I'd never use them for securing anything else.


"But the guy at Home Depot said it would work."
EV607797 #190193 11/08/09 08:43 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,323
Likes: 7
Perhaps a "code nazi' might go the 'listed screw' route. My opinion is leaning to the fit of the plate, as the drywall screw head is physically larger, and 'bugle' shaped.

HotLine1 #190198 11/08/09 09:06 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,361
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
In the carpentry forums, they refer to drywall screws as the 'duct tape' of the fastener business. I don't use them, but I can't say I get upset when I see one used - especially on a plastic box.

I do object to their use where they mess up the threads in a piece of metal.

I have absolutely no problem using drywall screws as a general-purpose way to attach boxes and straps to wood framing. Or, for that matter, to light steel framing.

It has been my practice to have an obscene collection of hardware on my truck, including all manner of fasteners. While the supplied hardware is usually adequate for a job, sometimes you need a longer screw, or to replace a missing one.

I've been busy recently, repairing damage to a flooded basement that my Dad (and brothers) finished themselves. Let me put it this way: of all the electrical 'sins' committed -some quite 'legal'- the occasional use of a drywall screw to hold a receptacle to the plastic box was by far the least worrisome to my eyes. For example, i think it's really much nicer if the romex jacket makes it into the box, and I really wish they had not back-stabbed their daisy chains together.

Indeed, if an inspector missed the short jackets, but harped on the drywall screw, I'd want him to find a new line of work.

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