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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Question rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    I am attempting to replace some outlets in a bedroom in my home. The outlets need to be replaced because they are loose, and some of them allow plugs to fall out.

    I open the cover plate, remove the outlet, and see that there are 7 wires at play here. Now I'm confused.

    3 White, 3 Black, and 1 Ground (really 3 grounds pigtailed with a wirenut to one leading to the outlet). I checked another outlet in the room, same set up. Neither of these outlets have any relation to any wall switches.

    These are older outlets, I suspect from the 1970s. They are backstabbed (I think I'm using that term correctly).

    How do I convert these 7 wires to a standard sidewire outlet? The ground is easy, but 3 White backstabbed wires to 2 side screws? Same for the black?

    Am I right in thinking I need to remove all the black wires from the backstabbed outlet, pigtail them together, and take a new short length of black wire pigtail that in with the 3 that were backstabbed and run that to the proper side screw. Now repeat this whole setup with the white wires?

    Am I way off? Is this correct? Is this safe? Is this thing on? I'm not sure why this is wired up this way, anyone have any insights into this?

    Thanks, you guys are the best!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    Your idea is an excellent way to deal with the situation.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    Am I better off nutting all 3 black wires together, and pigtailing one to the outlet?

    OR

    Taking the top 2 black wires, nutting them, pigtailing that to the outlet, and then the other black wire and running that straight to the outlet?


    Does it matter?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    Quote Originally Posted by sickest16 View Post
    Am I better off nutting all 3 black wires together, and pigtailing one to the outlet?

    OR

    Taking the top 2 black wires, nutting them, pigtailing that to the outlet, and then the other black wire and running that straight to the outlet?


    Does it matter?
    Either way accomplishes the same results and neither way is safer than the other.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
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    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    Quote Originally Posted by Fencepost View Post
    Your idea is an excellent way to deal with the situation.
    I would do what Fencepost has suggested. That way after folding over your three pigtails you will have three wires leading to the outlet to fold over next.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    You'll find it easier to shove the outlet into the box when there are only three wires to push on as compared to seven. Hopefully your box is deep enough to accommodate the wire nuts and pigtails.

    My preference would be to use stranded wire for the pigtails (easier to bend) and to use the "pro grade" outlets that backstab BUT you tighten the screws to clamp the wire in the backstab hole. Seems to me these would give better contact than either the standard backstabs or sidewires. Plus, the pro grade outlets have better contacts inside and the plug's less likely to get loose or fall out.

    Ernie's an electrician, so I'll defer to him.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    I agree with Fencepost's replies except for using stranded wire. I would use solid to wrap a screw, it's much to easy with stranded wire to get a wild strand sticking out and causing other problems.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  8. #8
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    Jan 2009
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    9

    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    Quote Originally Posted by sickest16 View Post
    I am attempting to replace some outlets in a bedroom in my home.
    ...
    I open the cover plate, remove the outlet, and see that there are 7 wires at play here.
    ...
    These are older outlets, I suspect from the 1970s. They are backstabbed

    Am I way off? Is this correct? Is this safe? Is this thing on? I'm not sure why this is wired up this way, anyone have any insights into this?
    My house was built in 1973, and it was added onto at least twice in the 70s and 80s.

    I'm in the same boat as you. Plugs slipping out of outlets, so I've been replacing them. Found a few with 3 black and 3 white wires backstabbed into the outlet. It's quicker and easier to just shove a wire into a hole. Takes a little longer to pigtail 'em, bend the pigtail and screw it on.

    My pet peeve about backstabbing is when you go to replace an outlet or switch, they sometimes seize up and won't release the wire. Had a few switches break apart in my hand. Plastic appeared to almost crumble. Others I had to break apart with needle nose pliers.

    If you pigtail the wires together, and ever have to replace the switch or outlet, it will likely go a lot faster.

    Before you presume, heck that'll be 30 years and I'll have sold the house by then, you might later upgrade something to a GFCI, dimmer switch or timer. Or if you ever do an addition yourself. Or a number of other what ifs.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    I agree with Fencepost's replies except for using stranded wire. I would use solid to wrap a screw, it's much to easy with stranded wire to get a wild strand sticking out and causing other problems.
    Jack
    Stranded wire
    Love it when pulling through EMT bends. Just the opposite when trying to land the same wire in a load center, J-box, etc.
    Besides pigtailing is a requirement in these parts.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    I agree with Fencepost's replies except for using stranded wire. I would use solid to wrap a screw, it's much to easy with stranded wire to get a wild strand sticking out and causing other problems.
    Jack
    Quote Originally Posted by Ernie_Fergler View Post
    Stranded wire
    Love it when pulling through EMT bends. Just the opposite when trying to land the same wire in a load center, J-box, etc.
    Besides pigtailing is a requirement in these parts.
    I should've made it clear that if you're wrapping a wire around a screw, absolutely solid wire is best. I only use stranded where I can insert into a backstab THAT IS TIGHTENED WITH A SCREW, not a standard backstab. I don't think stranded is permitted with the standard backstab.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

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