Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire
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sickest16
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!

Fencepost
Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

Your idea is an excellent way to deal with the situation.

sickest16
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?

JLMCDANIEL
Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire
sickest16 wrote:

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

Ernie_Fergler
Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire
Fencepost wrote:

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.

Fencepost
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.

JLMCDANIEL
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

kengrubb
Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire
sickest16 wrote:

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.

Ernie_Fergler
Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire
JLMCDANIEL wrote:

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:mad:
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.:D

Fencepost
Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire
JLMCDANIEL wrote:

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

Ernie_Fergler wrote:

Stranded wire:mad:
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.:D

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.

sickest16
Re: rewiring outlet/receptacle - backstab to sidewire

Success, thank you all for your assistance. I finished up the wiring project we've been discussing the other day. I decided to take 2 of the black, and wire nut them with a pigtail to the outlet, and take the other lone black to the outlet. Then did the same with the white.

Thanks again, and I hope this thread can help someone else in the same boat!

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