Back and side wired receptacles?

I was replacing some receptacles in my kitchen (20 Amp circuit). I pulled out the existing receptacles and found that they had 7 wires going into them, 3 white 3 black and 1 ground. the receptacle had 2 screw terminals per side, and the extra 2 wires were in the back, pushed in.
I was going to try to duplicate this but the new receptacles only accept 14 gauge in the back and the old ones accept 12 or 14...the wires seem to be 12. so I can't duplicate with these decor plugs.
should I try to find receptacles with the 12 cu wires or could I put two wires per screw, or connect two of them with a connector?
thanks
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You need to learn modern good wiring practice. Today the pros will pigtail the receptacles to the properly wire nutted input/output wiring. Go to your library, box store, whatever, and get an up to date book on wiring practices and read it. You will find that doing it right is much easier than struggling with the mistakes of the past. Good luck,
Joe
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Joe wrote:

I agree but if the old receps are in a single gang box there may not be room for two red wire nuts behind there. That would be the ideal solution if there is room, e.g. a 1900 box with a plaster ring.
nate
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It sounds like you have more than one receptacle with this condition. They may have broken off the side connector tabs and put each individual receptacle onto its own circuit. The stab connections can be problematic. The spring connections have a tendency to loosen due to heat from a higher load - like a load that would require 12 ga wire. The standard solution is to wire nut the wires together and run a pigtail to the receptacle. You may have an issue with exceeding the maximum box fill depending on what sort of box is there now - wire nuts and pigtails will only make it worse, as do GFIs' greater volume.
R
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The best thing to do is splice together, under a wire nut, all the blacks, with an additional pigtail to attach to the receptacle, then do the same with the whites. It's a more durable connection. Receptacles are no longer made with #12 back stabs
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On Sun, 2 Mar 2008 11:35:57 -0800 (PST), snowburnt

Use a pigtail (a short wire to a screw, then fasten 3-4 wires to a connector). One wire per screw. Double check for loose wires. Only ONE ground wire?
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Phisherman wrote:

I'm betting the ground is pigtailed, seeing as there's only one ground screw on a normal receptacle.
Speaking of which, do you guys wire nut your grounds? I do, but it doesn't seem to be common practice.
nate
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You should connect all three with a red wirenut along with a fourth wire (pigtail) to your outlet. This is the way it should have been done to begin with.
s

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You need a "spec grade" or "pro grade" backwired outlet. They will take 12 ga wires, and some will even take 10's. The back terminals you want are screw clamps, not little spring clips like in the cheap outlets.
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On Sun, 2 Mar 2008 11:35:57 -0800 (PST), snowburnt

That doesn't help you any, but any kitchen that has more than 2 cables per receptacle sounds wrong.
IMO, each kitchen outlet should be on a separate circuit by itself.
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Terry wrote:

Most recent houses, that would tie up half the breaker positions in the panel all by itself. IIRC, current 'best practice' is 2 GFCI-protected 20-amp strings for the convenience outlets (alternating the circuits as you progress down the counter), and dedicated circuits for fridge and lighting and maybe the dishwasher/disposal and other high-draw items. (Not counting the 240 circuit for the stove, of course.) That adds up to 5 strings or so, unless it is a show-off kitchen.
As for OP- the other posters have it right- pigtail the outlets, but try to reverse-engineer what is connected to what, to make sure the string is not overloaded. 3 hots and 3 neutrals in a box sounds like cheap electrician used it as a junction box, not a great practice. If there is attic above, or open basement ceiling below, restructuring how the wiring is laid out and adding some remote (but accessible) J-boxes may be a good idea. If all this sounds confusing to OP, he should seek out an electrician experienced in rationalizing old-work situations. (Most prefer to rip'n'replace if the old wiring is questionable, but there is no reason not to reuse old runs if they are in good shape, code compliant, and go between the point a and point b that you need.)
aem sends....
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wrote:

I don't know what you're basing this on. There's nothing wrong or cheap or unusual about having three 12 gauge cables in one box, and yes any box that has a junction in it, is a junction box, even if there's an outlet in it. The NEC requires a minimum of two 20 amp circuits for counter outlets and it's perfectly acceptable to have three cables in an outlet / junction box as long as it's big enough for the number of conductors and devices

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snowburnt wrote:

As has been said you can 'pigtail' all the wires but if you find that there is not enough room or you just want to duplicate what you have then one option would be to get the 'back feed' type outlets. These have holes on the back (8 total) where you put the wires in the holes and then tighten the screws on the side. These type are more expensive about $3.00 each. They work with 12ga or 14ga wires. Kevin
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snowburnt wrote:

Get some "spec grade" receptacles with the clamps behind the screws, they will accept two wires per screw. Make sure that they have the clamps; not all spec grade receptacles do. Don't even try to make the back stab connections work; they suck.
nate
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