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  • Receptacle Question

    I am replacing all the 22 year old receptacles in my house with new ones.

    Hope this isn't too stupid a question but I search on google but couldn't fund an answer:

    A couple of the receptacles have 3 cables coming in to the box, with all three connected to terminals. 2 in the back holes and 1 on the screw, on each side. Is that acceptable? Should I wire nut all three white/blacks wires together then have a single short wires going to the receptacle?

    Or should the incoming live go to a terminal, then the 2 other wires be wirenutted with a jumper going to the other terminal?

  • #2
    Re: Receptacle Question

    I know hardly anything about wiring, but is it possible that one of the wires is merely a ground wire?

    I replaced my receptacles a couple of years ago. I hooked everything up the way it was originally and everything is working fine.

    Black and Decker does make a really good, step-by-step electrical book that came in handy for me at the time.
    I'm on "The List" and I love it!!

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    • #3
      Re: Receptacle Question

      The ground wires are bare and all three are wire nutted together, then one goes to the receptacle.

      As a side question, I guess there was two electricians working on the house because downstairs the grounds are nutted, but upstairs they are just twisted together. Is it worth the hassle of going round and wire nutting all the ones that are just twisted? They are twisted pretty good.

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      • #4
        Re: Receptacle Question

        First question, yes it is acceptable to put one wire on each screw and stab one in the back, but it is far from preferred. Personally I would wire nut the three together and have one pig tail come off and put that under one screw. The backstabs have a tendency to work loose over time and that is not a good thing.

        Second question, by code the ground wires are supposed to be mechanically secured. That being said, if they are twisted very well, I wouldn't be all that concerned about going back through and wire nutting them. A better scenario would be you going to home depot and buying a box of Buchannen ground crimps and simply crimping all the twisted grounds, then you will also meet code.

        Jeff

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        • #5
          Re: Receptacle Question

          Kraft,
          Welcome to the forum, if nobody's said that yet.
          I'll try to help with your question. You say you have three wires coming into the box, but I'm assuming you mean three cables, each of which has, or should have three individual wires inside of them. First of all, are the wires copper or AL? If they're AL, close up the box and call an electrician. If they're copper here's what you need to do. After you turn off the power, you really should join the three blacks, along with a 12-gauge, or 14 gauge short jumper or "pigtail" together. Do the same with the white (neutral), and likewise with the bare (ground wire). So the black, the white and the ground should all have a pigtail end coming off the connections. Those connections are supposed to be wire-nutted together. NOT JUST TWISTED and covered with tape. They did that years and years ago and it's just not a good idea.
          The reasons for the pigtails is to make the most solid joint you can to keep wires from working loose under screws and terminals which can lead to arcing, which leads to heat, which eventually will lead to fire. And I have seen lots and lots of wires in boxes over the years that have started to burn thru the insulation because they were poorly joined. Every time you have a single wire under a screw terminal, and another black under the other screw terminal, and the third black stuck in the poke and stick terminal (back stabs) in the receptacle, you are increasing your chances of having some arcing going on. The pigtails cut down on this drastically. You wrap the bare end of the pigtail about 3/4 of the way around the screw terminal in the direction of the screw needed to tighten so as you screw it down, the wire gets forcibly wrapped around the screw terminal. And you do enough to go almost all the way around the screw because they'll teach you in sparky school that "two bites of meat is better than one." Same for the neutrals, and same for the grounds. You can use the green grounding wirenuts which have the hole in the top to feed the pigtail thru and make your connection. On the ones where the guy just twisted them together, pull them apart, remove any electrical tape and pigtail them as you did above. You can tell if your pigtail splice is good, by grasping the wires in one hand and the wire nut in the other and trying to pull them apart. If they stay together you dun good. If they come apart, go back to square one. You also don't need, or want to wrap the wire nut with electrical tape. That's kind of a no no, and inspectors don't like it because it can hide shoddy workmanship. Neatness counts as they say. The bare wires of the three or four wire-nutted junctions, should NOT be exposed after the wire nut goes on. Some guys just start to twist the wires together before placing a wire nut. I like to give em a good twisting with a Klein's first and then wire nut them in place. I can also trim a little if the leads are too long that way. This takes longer to explain than it does to do, but it's really the right way to do it. Take your time and do a good job.
          Jim


          Never mind. Jeff just beat me to it. Jim
          Last edited by JimDon; 08-03-2008, 09:15 PM.

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          • #6
            Re: Receptacle Question

            For you: Personally I strongly recommend you call in a known to be good licensed electrician. You really can't take chances where you may end up getting zapped or having a fire.

            For the electrician: In case things are crowded inside the boxes you could replace the receptacles with good spec grade (not the cheap stab wire kind) back wired ones. They normally will accept 4 or 8 wires. As for the ground wires do twist them together well, add a short piece to connect to the grounding screw and wire nut them. Good connections are a must.

            Receptacle: HUBBELL #HBL5262 is you want a real good one (The price may make you faint.) A very good and slightly less super one would be the HBL5252. They still cost good money but in the end are well worth it. Both have wire clamps where when you tighten down the screws the clamps bite into the wires. If done correctly you have a good connection and would really have to pull hard to ever pull out a wire. You won't find such in a big box store. Only serious electrical or industrial supply houses sell them.
            Last edited by Old Grunter; 08-05-2008, 02:16 AM.

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            • #7
              Re: Receptacle Question

              Originally posted by JimDon View Post
              Never mind. Jeff just beat me to it. Jim
              But yours was a much better explanation than mine Jim. I simply answered the questions, you got it done for him.

              Jeff

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              • #8
                Re: Receptacle Question

                Thanks for the replies. I finally figured out where all the cables were going, it was feeding a switched receptacle in another room were a brass tab was supposed to be broken off. I went ahead and connected all three cables (3 wires on each side) to a "spec grade" receptacle with the back slot screws clamps, instead of having 2 screwed on and 1 stabbed on the regular receptacle.

                Just wasn't sure if it was acceptable to connect 3 cables at once but the only downside I can tell is it will be hard to track the problem if the receptacle becomes defective.

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