Q on Romex gauges and outlets

I added a new outlet in my basement this past weekend. I ganged it off an existing 15 amp circuit and put the outlet below the light switch. I wired it with 14/2 Romex.
I had intended to use a 15 amp GFI outlet, since I may be using long extension cords from this outlet for possible outdoor uses. When I stripped the final 1/2" or so off the Hot and Neutral, I found that the wire appeared to be too "skinny" to connect into the holes in the GFI outlet. In other words, the wire bottomed out in the hole but didn't "catch". I realize I could have used the screw attachments, but decided against it, thinking there might be an incompatibility somehwere.
I pulled out a standard outlet and the wires fit as expected. Still wouldn't mind using the GFI if I can figure out why it didn't work right. Can somebody set me straight?
Tnx Gary
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Mamba wrote:

Are you sure that you really had a "push in" outlet?
Some outlets have holes going in from the back in which the side screws are used to clamp securely down on the wires.
Check it out, that might be it.
Jeff
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And if it isn't, don't use the holes - use the screws. I never trust "push-in" connectors for power circuits.
Bob
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Several folks will tell you to ***NEVER*** use those holes.
*IF* they work when new, they will most certainly cause you issues later.
ALWAYS use the connection secured by a screw. There are outlets that have the rear holes that have the wire held in by the side screws. These should be OK.
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supplied holes?
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Mamba wrote:

Are you sure the backstab holes aren't actually clamp connections that are tightened up when you tighten the screws? All the GFCI receptacles I've installed are like that and also some "spec grade" regular receps.
And again, if they are *not* like that, who cares? Only hacks use the "push and lock" backstab connections.
nate
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Mamba wrote:

never use the backstab connections anyway. always use the screw terminals.
nate
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replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
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Jeff was on it. GFCIs use a hole in the back but you still have to tighten the screw. It is a clamp plate. The good side is you can use both holes so you can have 2 wires in each terminal.
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OK, thanks all. I was under the mistaken impression that the push-holes were the desired usage when available. Guess I have a few other outlets I should re-do.
Call me curious, but just why is using the holes such a bad idea? Seems pretty straightforward and idiot-proof, assuming the wire fits ;-)
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I've had outlets (not switches so often) go "bad" on me, and when I pulled them out to check the wiring, the problem ALWAYS was that the backstabbed wires had over time pullled out. Reattaching them properly using the screws solved each problem. I, of course, was not the one who installed the outlets using the holes; I only use the screws because I only want to do the job once.
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wrote:

They just don't make a secure connection. A piece of metal bends as you push a wire in to bake pressure on the connection. Tightening a screw makes a lot tighter connection.
Bob
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Because you only have this small piece of spring steel that makes a connection in less than 1/32 of an inch. It's a poor connection and all the power has to flow thru that tiny piece of steel. When using screws, you have a half inch or more of the wire clamped under the screw. If you plug a large amperage device into a back stab outlet (like an electric space heater), that small steel clamp can overheat. It then loses it's springyness from the heat. Once that happens, the wire is loose and then the heat builds up more. This can cause a fire or at least cause the outlet to fail. In my opinion, these backstab holes should have been banned long ago.
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Mamba ( snipped-for-privacy@nottoday.net) said...

The holes on a spec grade device (or on GFCI outlets) are FINE to use. As others have mentioned, you have to tighten the screw, so the wire is squeezed between two flat plates of metal.
The ones on cheaper devices are the problem. The connection is made by a pair of pieces of metal that "bite" into the wire and hold in a ratchet fashion. The "bite" weakens the wire a bit, and when you move it a bit to stuff the device into the box with the wiring behind it, the wire gets weakened a bit more.
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Mamba wrote:

Similar to a woman's "cunny hole" the parts inside those backstab fastener holes get looser as they age. <G>
Jeff (Whose dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.)
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posted for all of us...

Back stab = push wire in and hope for best 14 gage only Back wire = has internal clamp activated by screw - recommended.
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with the gfci's you poke the wire in the hole AND tighten the side screw.
s

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Every GFI I have ever used has holes on the back that clamp the wire when you tighten the screws. You dont wrap the wire on the screws like a standard outlet. Strip wire as shown in device or instructions. Stick it in the hole according to the color code. Tighten the screws. You're done..... These are some of the easiest devices to wire.
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On Wed, 07 Nov 2007 21:54:15 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@notmail.com wrote:

And don't confuse the LINE and LOAD terminals.

I've installed a few older GFCIs that required you yo wrap the wire around the screws, The new ones do make that a lot easier.
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The old "back stab" outlets aren't used any more. They used to have some metal teeth that grabbed the wire. Now days, you slip the wire in, and tighten the screw on the side.
It's also fine to loop the wire around the screw, and tighten that way.
I've never seen a Romex wire gauge (tool for measuring). I mostly just read the packaging to determine the gage (size) of the wire. Where did you find a Romex gauge?
The outlet did come with instructions, right?
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wrote:

re: "Where did you find a Romex gauge?"
Where did he say he found a Romex gauge?
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