Back stabbed outlets and Daisy chaining, Christmas tree lamps

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New 2 1/2 year old house. During construction I noticed the use of back stabbed outlets. I complained to the electrician and he (no surprise to me) said there is nothing wrong with using the back stabbed outlets and that it wasn't anything different than he would do in his own house. Well, last Christmas, I had an extension cord plugged into an outlet in the living room with nothing connected to that extension cord. The Christmas tree was on. We use the retro-look C7 lamps, some of the older 7 watt and some newer 4 watt. I disconnected the extension cord, which I remind you had not current flowing through it and was connected to an upstream outlet. The male plug on the extension cord was hot to the touch. I measured the tree at about 10.5 amps. This year I did a little checking on how the circuit was fed and found out there were only 2 outlets before the one where the Christmas tree was plugged into. So, I opened them up and pigtailed the looped through Daisy chain using a wire nut and stub wire to the outlets on those 2 outlets and the one where the Christmas tree was actually connected. But before I measured voltages. After, I had about 4 volts higher at the tree outlet and, of course, no heating of the 2 outlets before the tree. Thinking about it, there were a total, including neutrals, 10 back stabs in line with the Christmas tree, so that's .4 volt drop on each.
Anyway, I want to "fix" this throughout the house. My question is, which is better, using a wire nut and stub to the outlet or using all 4 screws on the outlet to preform the loop through? I noticed that the jumper piece on the outlets is pretty small .... I would guess that it is less bulk than a 14 gauge wire .... but it is in open air. My vote would be for the wire nut, but I'd like to hear from the experts.
BTW, I notice on another outlet that he actually used the back stabs to do the loop-through and tapped off one of the screws with another wire to Tee off to someplace else. Electrically this works, but is it to code?
And, I will be looking at LED C7s for the future, but they really are not quite up in brightness yet. I put some LED C9s outside and they were considerably dimmer than their room-heater equivalents and they do blink. But as I have done on other LED Christmas lights, I use a full wave rectifier in line. I know this doubles up on the wattage of the LED and probably shortens its life, but they do look a whole lot better.
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On 12/29/2011 8:20 AM, Art Todesco wrote:

Either is good. If using #12 solid wire I would use pigtails - much easier to push the receptacle back into the box.
If an Edison circuit (2 different circuits and a neutral) goes through the box the neutral can not be run through the receptacle.

The rest of the metal in the receptacle also is a heat sink.

The NEC has no problem with it. Incidentally, allowing backstabs is a UL 'problem'.
--
bud--

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IMO, back-stab receptacles are a fire waiting to happen. I can't believe they are even legal.
My personal choice is to buy high-quality back-wire receptacles and use the receptacle as a daisy chain junction.
Note: Quality back-wire receptacles allow you to put two wires under one screw so that your downstream outlet current isn't flowing through the jumper tab.
: New 2 1/2 year old house. During construction I noticed the use of : back stabbed outlets. I complained to the electrician and he (no : surprise to me) said there is nothing wrong with using the back stabbed : outlets and that it wasn't anything different than he would do in his : own house. Well, last Christmas, I had an extension cord plugged into : an outlet in the living room with nothing connected to that extension : cord. The Christmas tree was on. We use the retro-look C7 lamps, some : of the older 7 watt and some newer 4 watt. I disconnected the extension : cord, which I remind you had not current flowing through it and was : connected to an upstream outlet. The male plug on the extension cord : was hot to the touch. I measured the tree at about 10.5 amps. This : year I did a little checking on how the circuit was fed and found out : there were only 2 outlets before the one where the Christmas tree was : plugged into. So, I opened them up and pigtailed the looped through : Daisy chain using a wire nut and stub wire to the outlets on those 2 : outlets and the one where the Christmas tree was actually connected. : But before I measured voltages. After, I had about 4 volts higher at : the tree outlet and, of course, no heating of the 2 outlets before the : tree. Thinking about it, there were a total, including neutrals, 10 : back stabs in line with the Christmas tree, so that's .4 volt drop on : each. : : Anyway, I want to "fix" this throughout the house. My question is, : which is better, using a wire nut and stub to the outlet or using all 4 : screws on the outlet to preform the loop through? I noticed that the : jumper piece on the outlets is pretty small .... I would guess that it : is less bulk than a 14 gauge wire .... but it is in open air. My vote : would be for the wire nut, but I'd like to hear from the experts. : : BTW, I notice on another outlet that he actually used the back stabs to : do the loop-through and tapped off one of the screws with another wire : to Tee off to someplace else. Electrically this works, but is it to code? : : And, I will be looking at LED C7s for the future, but they really are : not quite up in brightness yet. I put some LED C9s outside and they : were considerably dimmer than their room-heater equivalents and they do : blink. But as I have done on other LED Christmas lights, I use a full : wave rectifier in line. I know this doubles up on the wattage of the : LED and probably shortens its life, but they do look a whole lot better.
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On Dec 29, 10:25 am, "Nymshifting Top-poster"

That is what I did. I replace all the residential grade outlets in my house with quality commercial grade outlets. The are still backstab, at least sort of. The wire is straight and it slides in a slot under the screw. Just stick the wire in and tighten down the screw.
Jimmie
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I call those back-screw, which I consider OK.
As to back stabs, I rewire them wherever possible.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
I replace all the residential grade outlets in my house with quality commercial grade outlets. The are still backstab, at least sort of. The wire is straight and it slides in a slot under the screw. Just stick the wire in and tighten down the screw.
Jimmie
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JIMMIE wrote:

Hmmm, I never had any trouble using back stabbing. All is a matter of done proper. Anyone ever took apart and looked inside of the thing? Then you'll know what proper means. My light strings are all LED now. Current draw is very little.
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On 12/29/2011 10:25 AM, Nymshifting Top-poster wrote:

They are probably legal because there's little to no evidence that they've caused any fires. From my experience I might consider them, an open circuit waiting to happen.
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___ You're one in a million RBM, one in a million...
-ChrisCoaster
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On 12/29/2011 6:20 AM, Art Todesco wrote:

knowing what you knew at the time and the fact that you even questioned the electrician, i'm really perplexed as to why you allowed it? I never would have. Who's paying who here? I have a real big problem with back stabs and can't believe they still even make it a possibility. I tore my hair out for three days looking for a problem in a commercial application ONLY to find out it was a daisy chained backstabbed outlet behind a desk (UNUSED mind you) that was the issue. This place was wired back when you could back stab 12ga. ARRRRRHHHHHHGGGG!!!
--
Steve Barker
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I had similar situation in a residence. They had sockets I'll call 1, 2, 3. Sockets 2 and 3 would go dead now and again. I had a nearly impossible time to convince them to let me take socket 1 apart, "that socket has never been a problem".
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
I tore my hair out for three days looking for a problem in a commercial application ONLY to find out it was a daisy chained backstabbed outlet behind a desk (UNUSED mind you) that was the issue. This place was wired back when you could back stab 12ga. ARRRRRHHHHHHGGGG!!!
--
Steve Barker
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wrote:

I agree that backstabbed connections are not the best, however the one electrical issue we had in our house (10yo; this occurred about 2 years in) was related to a wire nut connection.
My wife went to turn on the TV, and as it came on the lights went out in the room; all of the outlets were dead. Checked the circuit breaker, and it hadn't tripped (and flipping it off/on didn't help). Then I realized that one outlet in the hall was supposedly on the same circuit, and it was working. Weird. So I started pulling plates on all the outlets on the circuit, and lo and behold, the one behind the TV (which was second in the chain) had a blackened section of wire insulation and wire nut. Apparently the wire wasn't fully inserted, and must have been arcing for a while before the load caused it to disconnect for good.
Very scary to think that could have started a fire, and presumably some of what the new Arc Fault breakers are intended to detect.
I redid that whole box's connections with pigtails and side-screw connections, even though it wasn't the backstab at issue here.
Josh
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Josh wrote:

Hmm, So which gets blame? poor workmanship or backstab connection?
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On 12/31/2011 6:21 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

Well, I didn't see anything which led me to believe there was a workmanship problem. However, as I stated previously, I eliminated 4 volts of drop, due to the back stab outlets. And, this only involved 3 outlets! Imagine what would happen at the end of a long run with these things.
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Art Todesco wrote:

You may not need a pigtail. Try giving the wire a tug or two. A competent electrician will leave 6-8" of slack in a new installation for just such a contingency.
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On 12/29/2011 5:38 PM, HeyBub wrote:

The pigtail isn't because the wire is short. He's looking for the best pass through solution
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On 12/29/2011 05:38 PM, HeyBub wrote:

The point of the pigtail is not wire length, it's to avoid passing a potential 12+ amps of current through the little side tabs on a typical duplex receptacle.
nate
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On 12/29/2011 9:20 AM, Art Todesco wrote:

I don't have a big problem with backstab receptacles. Like anything else, if done properly, with decent equipment it should work fine. Unfortunately it's too easy to miss the clip and get a poor connection. My preferred method is to use a pigtail, but I can say from experience that many people have a better chance at making a backstab tight than securing 3 or 4 wires under a wire nut. I've certainly seen more loose wire nuts, than bad backstabs. Turning wires under screws is a good choice, you just need to be sure that the wire is completely under the screw. Screw clamp receptacles don't impress me. I think they work better than anything on stranded wire, but can get a little dicey with solid conductors. I've had them very tight , only to come loose when folding the wires back into the box. YMMV
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On 12/29/2011 9:20 AM, Art Todesco wrote:

Thanks for all the good discussion. I was primarily curious what everyone thought and I now have a good idea. I will probably use the pigtail/wire nut method as much as possible, when I make the changes. But, I probably won't go and do it wholesale, all at one time. Actually, the other day I had to open 3 outlets for another reason. I did use the screws to daisy chain in 2 of 3 outlets. The 3rd, as I had mentioned used the back stabs plus one pair of screws. On this one, the 3 wires were connected together with a wire nut and a 4th wire stub to the outlet screw. Yes, I guess I should have demanded that the electrician do it "my way", however, the guy was kind of a jerk and I didn't want to push the issue.
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Art Todesco wrote:

Trick: Are all your original outlets ground-plugs pointing in the same direction? Either up or down? As you replace or improve on them, reverse the orientation - if the ground plug was up, rotate the outlet so the ground plug is down. Or vice-versa.
Then, as you progress with the project, you can tell immediately what needs fixing.
Pay no attention to those who say God told them that a certain orientation was righteous and the other sinful. Or that a Mayan monkey spoke to them in a dream and relayed the straight skinny.
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On 12/31/2011 5:11 PM, HeyBub wrote:

The engineers on The Army Core of Engineers job I was on wanted all ground holes at the top of the receptacle for vertical installations and the neutral at the top for horizontal receptacles. Obviously it was to prevent fireworks or unintended enlightenment of someone if a piece of metal fell on a partially inserted plug. I've seen some European standard plugs that that have partially insulated blades to prevent that sort of thing from happening. It's a bit odd looking to see that huge European plug on a small lamp cord. o_O
TDD
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