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Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

Posted by lsst (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 13, 12 at 17:05

You guys have been great in helping me and once again I need your advice.

I want to add a receptacle about 1 foot away from a receptacle that is not at the end of a circuit run.

I pulled out the existing receptacle to find three sets of wires. My builder's electrician appears to have back stabbed two sets of the wires and attached the third set by the top set of screws.

Hopefully the pic will show the wires and how they are attached.

I know it is bad practice to back stab a wire. I have never seen a back stab and the screw used for two different wires at the same time.

Is this accepted practice? If so, I still have a free set of screws to add the new receptacle wiring. Can I safely do that?

My gut feeling is that this is not acceptable. Can I splice and wing nut the wires and then add my new receptacle? That was my original plan before I saw all the weird wiring!

Thanks in advance!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

My photo did not upload. I will try again.

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

Other than back stabbing the receptacle (which I prefer not to do) it looks ok. Why the question? Are you having issues?

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, I have had a lot of issues with how some of the wiring had been done with my builder's electrician. He took many shortcuts and I was wondering if back stabbing was acceptable with also using the screws.

Can I safely keep the wiring as is and use the unused screws for my new receptacle? In other words treat the current receptacle as if it is at the end of a run?

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

It is unlikely that the existing box is large enough to contain an additional NM cable plus the receptacle and remain code compliant. That needs to be determined before going further. If the box has sufficient capacity, the better installation would have all the conductors spliced together and pigtails from the splice connected to the receptacle. While box fill calculations do not add in the volume of such splices and pigtails, they do add additional bulk to the contents of the box.

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

Thanks bus driver,

The box is a standard new work single gang plastic box.
The capacity is 18 cubic inches.

This is the first outlet in our construction I have seen where the electrician back stabbed the wires.

All of the others I have seen so far in our home have had wires attached to the screws.

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

That's some pretty sloppy work. There shouldn't be that much copper showing.

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

The back stabbing (bad enough by itself) appears down by a real hack.

There should not be any exposed bare wire on the back stabs.

The strip gauge is on the back of the receptacle, and he obviously ignored it.

It also appears to be knife stripped (thus all the tapering uneven insulation ends) instead of an actual wire stripper.

Looks like a really low budget job.

You can improve reliability by pigtailing instead of using the receptacle as a junction point as you have right now.

Wire nuts and pigtails do not count in box fill, even though they do make the box more crowded..

Even the wires terminated under the screws have excess bare conductor exposed.

you can see the hot obviously, but even the neutral on the far side is sticking past the back of the receptacle.

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

Here is a box fill calculator. For this, each black is one conductor, each white is one conductor, and each red, if any, is one conductor. The count is not cables, but conductors.
A search may find additional calculators.

Here is a link that might be useful: Calculator

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

Thanks everyone!
I used the calculator and 18 cubic inches will work. 18 was the minimum.
I will splice and pigtail as originally planned.

The bare wires concerned me as well. The whole thing just does not look safe.

Over time, I am going to check each outlet to see if any more are like this. I have a bad feeling, I will find more.

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?

Are all the grounds tied together back in the box somewhere?

RE: Receptacle wiring looks wrong- Is it?


weedmeister, the grounds were connected with a ground wing nut.

I replaced the old outlet with a new one and spliced and pigtailed the connections. I fished the new wire and added the new receptacle.

I checked all the other outlets on the circuit and I am glad to say that all were connected correctly to the screws.

This is in my dining room and the outlets are hardly ever used. I am glad to have discovered it and with all of your help able to correct it.

It is as if the outlet was there first at the end of a run and the electrician or someone during the build lazily tapped into it by backstabbing.

Thanks everyone!

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