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Thread: Screw vs. Backstab Receptacles

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  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Default Screw vs. Backstab Receptacles

    Hello All,

    Is one method better than the other? Backstab seems like it would be quicker, but is it better? I am replacing the receptacles in a couple of rooms. I bought 15amp receptacles with ground. The receptacles that are there are 2-hole. The boxes are metal and the ground wire is attached to the box.


    TIA,
    Molo

  2. #2
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    I have always heard it is better to use the screw connections. The clips in the others can become weak and leave loose connections ... such as when my window air conditioner quit last year. The spring tab had allowed the wire to somehow actually come all the way out of place, and that surely could have been a fire in the making.

  3. #3

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    I used the backstab in my parents cabin and was hit by lighting and blasted all of the wires right out of the sockets do not use them at all. Just like Lee said it is a fire just waiting to happen.

  4. #4
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    The so called back stab devices are UL approved, for 14 guage wire only. They do have a history that over time, the fairly flimsy mechanical spring connection to the wire can get loose, causing problems. I do not use them around my house. You will typically find that building contractors use them the time because they are much less costly and much faster to put in.

    I always prefer the type where a wire inserts straight into an opening on the back, and when you tighten the screw, it clamps the wire. Very fast and very secure.

  5. #5
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    ROTGLMAO... Every electrical forum needs a "backstab vs. screw" debate thread!

    If you want to know why I'm laughing: Mike (JWelectric) is a new member here; and we just went through this on another board. It got so lively I wound up calling him names...

    http://forums.jlconline.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=36942

    continued (!) here:

    http://forums.jlconline.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=37266


    The short version is: this is an issue that gets hotly debated, without resolution most of the time.

  6. #6
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    ROTGLMAO... Every electrical forum needs a "backstab vs. screw" debate thread!
    No......no it doesn't.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by molo
    The receptacles that are there are 2-hole. The boxes are metal and the ground wire is attached to the box.


    TIA,
    Molo

    Come on SLACKERS!!!


    The more important issue is???? Are those metal boxes grounded? If not, that ground wire aint doin much.

    If you are going from 2 prong to 3 prong with no ground available you must use GFCI protection.

    The theory is that someone will assume they are grounded (by looking at the 3 prong configuation) and get hurt (by means of a faulty tool etc.) as a result.

  8. #8
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Alectrician....your not doing your home work.....read the first post that has all pertinent info of the question.

  9. #9
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    Cass - he clearly read the original post, he even quoted it - but the "ground wire" could mean "ground wire between the receptacle and the box" - it's not clear in the OP.

    And even if Molo meant the ground wire coming from the panel; if it's old work, he should check to make sure it's actually grounded. Wouldn't be the first time a green wire didn't actually connect to anything.

    There was, however, no reason to call everyone slackers...

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Default More info

    The ground is coming from the box. I would like to make sure it is grounded, how can I do this? Also, my original thought is that replacing the 12 outlets with new ones was a job I could do myself. I see that there are concerns when doing a project like this, and that is why I originally posted. Do you pros think this is a project I should DIY?

    TIA,
    Molo

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by molo
    . Do you pros think this is a project I should DIY?

    TIA,
    Molo

    NO!!!


    Sincerely, Joe Tedesco








    And...is "slackers" a cuss word or something?

    It's time to unbunch the panties fellas.

  12. #12
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you can find the circuit breaker, know how to verify that ALL leads in the box are not live, and a little skill, then, unless your municipality restricts this to licensed electricians, you can do this yourself. When the box is used in a chain (daisy chain), I think it is better to use a wire nut to connect the wires and use a pigtail to connect to the outlet. While it doesn't happen too often, repeated heating and cooling of the connection can cause the screws to loosen slightly, thus giving you a flakey connection down the line that is very hard to find sometimes.

    If you have any of those outlets that are served by multiple feeds, it is very important to watch what was done with the jumpers between the recepticles and the color of the wires attached. Break off only the jumpers as done in the original installation.

    Wrap the wires clockwise around the screws.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  13. #13
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    Cass - he clearly read the original post, he even quoted it - but the "ground wire" could mean "ground wire between the receptacle and the box" - it's not clear in the OP.

    And even if Molo meant the ground wire coming from the panel; if it's old work, he should check to make sure it's actually grounded. Wouldn't be the first time a green wire didn't actually connect to anything.

    There was, however, no reason to call everyone slackers...
    Your right on both counts......

  14. #14
    Computer nerd cmlove's Avatar
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    Default UL approval meaningless?

    Are others as amazed as I at the junk that passes UL testing these days. I so often find electrical components that have plastic components with the consistency of charcoal briquettes after a few years use. Unscrew a bulb, and the socket falls apart.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default backstab

    Joe! I take it you do not thing anyone should even change a light bulb if they are not licensed electricians.

    Get a simple outlet tester and plug it into the outlet. The light configuration will tell you if there is a working ground or not, and if the wires are correctly polarized. And YES, it is a simple DIY project if you turn off the power first.

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