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  1. #1
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    Default Loose wall switch

    Bought a unit a few years ago. Progressively getting it put into order. I guess itís probably about 30 years old. There is a light switch on the same wall as the kitchen sink (brick wall, and tiled). About 600mm from the sink. Seems too close to the water for me, but thatís the way it is.

    The switch has always been a bit loose to the touch. One day I removed the little plastic tabs and attempted to tighten the screws on the switch. One was tight. The other screw just spun and did nothing. I left it for another day. That was today.

    Removing the switch I can see one rawl plug has gone into the brickwork, and the asbestos sheet hasnít gotten in the way as it happens. Seems sound. The other (loose) end of the switch was something else.

    There was a neat hole drilled through the asbestos where the rawl plug had been inserted, and get this, only air behind it. No wonder the switch was loose. Sure, thereís some solid wall in there, but itís about 15-20 mm from the asbestos sheet. I donít think the rawl plug actually touched the brickwork.

    Itís likely that whoever fitted this in the first place should have used a mounting box for the switch, and maybe I should install one to do this correctly. Thereís no way Iím going to risk destroying perfectly good tiles that Iíll never be able to replace. So, thatís not going to happen.

    Hereís my plan. Shoot it down if you can come up with something better.

    I have some tile cement (powder) left over from a tiling job I was doing. Iím thinking of getting a new rawl plug, drilling a hole through the thing at the far end of the plug, and pushing something through it (eg. a nail). Iíll place the rawl plug (and nail) into precisely the correct position. Thatíll be awkward but not impossible. And then Iíll mix up some of my tile cement (glue, as itís called) that will be a fairly stiff consistency and shove it around the rawl plug and so fill the air gap. Ramming it in there. When set Iíll refit the switch. Presumably, the nail will stop the plug from turning.

    Iím assuming the tile cement will be tough enough to prevent the nail from moving. Iíd use some cement powder (ie. as in Portland) if I had any. Any thoughts?

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  3. #2
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    Dec 2005
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    Default

    I would use something like Plasti-bond.

  4. #3
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    I've dealt with a similar issue a few times. I cut a rectangle of timber about 50x25x10 and glue it to the rear side of the plasterboard/cement sheet on the offending side such that it covers the screw hole. Use a small clamp to hold it in place while the glue sets. Then I use a wood screw to affix that side of the switch plate into the timber. It might be easier for you to cut a piece that's a snug fit in the 10-20mm gap between the AC sheet and wall. Or use a wedge to hold the timber in place while the glue sets.

  5. #4
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    Thanks China, Jack. Both are useful ideas.

    I was subsequently thinking that my own idea (ie. tile glue) may not be up to the mark. I seem to recall that tile glue tends to be a little soft, which may not work so well.

  6. #5
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    Albury
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    Jack's on the money. You are correct that tile adhesive would just crumble. If you can't get a clamp on it you can create tension between the timber and cement sheet/plaster board using a screw to pull them together. This same method works very well for fixing bathroom fittings that have become detached from sheet walls.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Katoomba NSW
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    4,742

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    Just use something like an Anka Plug Anka Plugs | Ablefix
    Thats probably what was in there in the first place but it has dropped down when it was unscrewed.
    Those were the droids I was looking for.
    https://autoblastgates.com.au

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCArcher View Post
    Just use something like an Anka Plug
    It was definitely a rawl plug that was in there. I'm not sure an Anka Plug would get sufficient 'bite' into the asbestos to prevent it from turning, as it would on plasterboard. Thanks for the suggestion, but as primitive as Jack's piece of wood idea is, I think it's on the money. It'll take a while for the glue to set but it'll be solid in the end.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    Melbourne
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ErrolFlynn View Post
    Bought a unit a few years ago. Progressively getting it put into order. I guess itís probably about 30 years old. There is a light switch on the same wall as the kitchen sink (brick wall, and tiled). About 600mm from the sink. Seems too close to the water for me, but thatís the way it is.

    The switch has always been a bit loose to the touch. One day I removed the little plastic tabs and attempted to tighten the screws on the switch. One was tight. The other screw just spun and did nothing. I left it for another day. That was today.
    Nomenclature is a wonderful thing.

    In Australia, light "switches" are installed in Wall-Plates and it is these "Wall-Plates" which are attached to walls, in various ways.
    The mounting screws of these Wall-Plates are "deep set", so that they cannot be touched with an adult finger but it is also required that they be covered with a "Mounting Screw Cover" which the OP seems to have described as "little plastic tabs".
    Quote Originally Posted by ErrolFlynn View Post
    Removing the switch I can see one rawl plug has gone into the brickwork, and the asbestos sheet hasnít gotten in the way as it happens. Seems sound. The other (loose) end of the switch was something else.

    There was a neat hole drilled through the asbestos where the rawl plug had been inserted, and get this, only air behind it. No wonder the switch was loose. Sure, thereís some solid wall in there, but itís about 15-20 mm from the asbestos sheet. I donít think the rawl plug actually touched the brickwork.
    Without a photograph, it is somewhat difficult to visualise the situation described.
    It seems that there may be a substrate of "brick-work" over which some form of "cement" sheeting has been applied. (Whether it contains Asbestos is another matter.)
    Quote Originally Posted by ErrolFlynn View Post
    Itís likely that whoever fitted this in the first place should have used a mounting box for the switch, and maybe I should install one to do this correctly.
    "Mounting Boxes" are not generally used in Australia, except in soley Masonry Walls (e. g.Just a moment... )
    Quote Originally Posted by ErrolFlynn View Post
    Hereís my plan. Shoot it down if you can come up with something better.

    I have some tile cement (powder) left over from a tiling job I was doing. Iím thinking of getting a new rawl plug, drilling a hole through the thing at the far end of the plug, and pushing something through it (eg. a nail). Iíll place the rawl plug (and nail) into precisely the correct position. Thatíll be awkward but not impossible. And then Iíll mix up some of my tile cement (glue, as itís called) that will be a fairly stiff consistency and shove it around the rawl plug and so fill the air gap. Ramming it in there. When set Iíll refit the switch. Presumably, the nail will stop the plug from turning.

    Iím assuming the tile cement will be tough enough to prevent the nail from moving. Iíd use some cement powder (ie. as in Portland) if I had any. Any thoughts?
    I would strongly advise against that which you propose.

    Epoxy Resins are your friend in such cases.

    You need to install a "fitting" ("rawl plug" or otherwise) into a solid substrate, and use a sufficiently long enough screw to "engage with" that "fitting".
    The "fitting" can be installed in even the most crumbly substrate by using a liquid Epoxy Resin , such as Just a moment...
    or
    an Epoxy Putty, such as Just a moment... (BUT, do not use "Builders Bog".)

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrodoOne View Post
    In Australia, light "switches" are installed in Wall-Plates
    Not in this part of Australia. At least, at that time. Perhaps a few corners were cut by the electrician. Perhaps the work wasn't done by an electrician. Country town. Limited tradies at the time of the build, perhaps. Look at me. I'm doing this repair and I'm not an electrician.

    This would be the second switch I'm replacing. In both, the brickwork has been hacked away to provide access. The two rawl plugs fitted in the first were good and the switch was replaced with no trouble. Hence my posting - looking for ideas. Actually, the mounting is rather annoying as the rawl plugs weren't installed parallel to the ground. Drill bits tend to wander. And as a result, the switch remains on a slight angle.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrodoOne View Post
    a "Mounting Screw Cover" which the OP seems to have described as "little plastic tabs".
    Yeah, you're quite right. I used confusing nomenclature, I guess. Not too confusing, though. When I implied that the switch might have been 30 years old that must have provided a clue as to my meaning. I doubt facias were generally available for switches back then.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrodoOne View Post
    Whether it contains Asbestos is another matter.
    Old house. Kitchen. There's no doubt - it'll be asbestos.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrodoOne View Post
    Epoxy Resins are your friend in such cases.
    An interesting idea. I don't have any experience with it except in watching Forged in Fire on TV. It seems like a very messy substance. With that in mind, I'm still inclined to go with Jack's idea of glueing a piece of wood in there. But the next time I'm in a hardware store I'll have a look to see what they have in their range of epoxy type products.

  11. #10
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    Sydney
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    I am with epoxy putty.
    Or epoxy a piece of wood to whatever is nearby.

    Another one ... is it possible to cut a piece of 7mm fibro, the right size to fit diagonally through the opening, turn around and glue against the existing asbestos sheet by using a string to pull ... then once solid, cut the right hole size for the switch and screws?

    Of course you will need to disconnect everything and then reconnect through the 'new' hole.
    ďWe often contradict an opinion for no other reason
    than that we do not like the tone in which it is expressed.Ē

    Friedrich Nietzsche


  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ErrolFlynn View Post
    Not in this part of Australia.
    I just twigged you are in Canberra. I cut my renovator's teeth doing-up a 1948 cottage in Canberra.
    It was rendered solid brick and all GPOs and switch plates were fitted to steel boxes set into the walls.
    My place had an asbestos ceiling in the laundry and asbestos soffit linings. If your place is 30 years old it could have asbestos. I'd be surprised if it did, but it would be wise to assume it does.

  13. #12
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    Ah, yes. I am in Canberra. Though, the unit I was referring to is a property in Eden, NSW.

    I’ve no idea what the building industry was like in Eden when the block of units I’m referring to was built. The structure seems sound (it looks sound) but some things have surprised me.

    It’s on the coast but nothing had been galvanised. There are rust marks coming from various fittings. I wonder why they didn’t use stainless. You can see and hear the waves crashing. People didn’t seem to think of corrosion.

    At the last strata AGM the issue of concrete cancer came up because it’s one of our issues. We had a quote. A huge amount of money to repair, but the discussion shifted along the lines of: I know someone who can fix that. All it needs is a bit of chipping and paint. She’ll be right. Rather than engage a company that knows what they’re doing the cheapest option is being considered. No decision on that and the rust continues.

    I wonder if those attitudes of ‘anything will do’ just get it done went into the build all those years ago and that’s why I’ve got rawl plugs instead of neatly mounted steel box set into the wall. I know them and have used them myself. So, I was surprised (but not surprised) not to see any. Whoever was the sparky, despite it being a bit rough around the edges everything seems to work. So, it must have met minimum standards.

    PS. I see you're from Melbourne. I used to live in Warrandyte before coming here.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ErrolFlynn View Post
    I’ve no idea what the building industry was like in Eden when the block of units I’m referring to was built.
    The same as everywhere else in Oz I imagine- dreadful.

  15. #14
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    While i wrote "In Australia, light "switches" are installed in Wall-Plates"
    your reply was "

    Quote Originally Posted by ErrolFlynn View Post
    Not in this part of Australia. At least, at that time. Perhaps a few corners were cut by the electrician. Perhaps the work wasn't done by an electrician. Country town. Limited tradies at the time of the build, perhaps.
    I still believe that all light switches in Australia have been installed in Wall-Plates, since before WWII.
    Please provide photographs of anything which you have which may contradict that statement.

  16. #15
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    Ha ha ... you can change forum but not stripes.
    ďWe often contradict an opinion for no other reason
    than that we do not like the tone in which it is expressed.Ē

    Friedrich Nietzsche


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