Personal experience here-- a lady at work has a mobile home she bought
new about 8 years ago. First her fridge stopped working, so she pluged
it into an extension cord to another outlet. I was out there doing a
heater or a/c maint. checkout, so I looked into it. Fridge outlet was
backstabbed. I think it was an end run. but not positive--this was
several years ago. I cannot remember if the outlet also had screws which
I used instead or if I replaced the outlet, but she has had no more
trouble with it. Next time I was there, several more plugs and lights
were not working-- same thing. Definitely would have been enough to
convince me they were no good, except I already thought that anyway.
I think he is looking for permission to use equipment that is questionable,
but easier for the novice. A pro can twist a wire on the terminal rather
In the time spent trying to get approval, twenty connections could have been
Call it anecdotal, but like many others here, I've had multiple
failures of back stabbers dating back many years. I doubt that you
would never get any other view from any journeymen in the trade.
Analyzing the problem from an engineering standpoint, it seems
entirely logical that an overheated spring contact will loosen and
fail. Seems to me to be pointless to do a study of the likelihood of
that happening. The end user abuses the device, the device fails. The
manufacturer will cheerfully send you another 79 cent part if you
gripe about it, but why bother? The manufacturers are well aware of
this weakness and make backstabbers noiw that must be screw tightened.
My dimes worth...
I've only had problems with stab connections on a house with aluminum
wiring. The wire is so soft that the spring eventually mashes the
wire so flat that good contact is lost. In houses with copper wire
it's never been a problem. That said, when I replace an outlet when a
tenant breaks one or paints over it, I use the screws.
Yeah, but it happened. A guy who worked with my father asked me to
look at an outlet in his house that was not working properly. Some of
the plastic was actually charred. It was fed with aluminum wire
plugged into a backstab port. He's lucky it didn't get a little bit
hotter and start something burning. I think I told him to check all the
outlets in the house for the same problem (I was still in my teens at
the time, which is a long time ago now).
My own house has copper branch circuit wiring and backstab-connected
outlets and switches. I haven't found any problems I can attribute to
them, but whenever I'm working on a switch or outlet for any reason,
I'll switch to using the screw connections because I just don't trust
the backstab ones. Or I'll junk the existing switch/receptacle and
replace it with one that has rear-entry screw clamp connections, which
I like better than the side screws.
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