trouble replacing an outlet

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  #1  
Old 03-18-05, 05:13 PM
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Angry trouble replacing an outlet

I needed to replace an outlet in my living room. I did my research and it seemed easy enough. I pulled out the old outlet, connected the wires to the new outlet and this is where the prolems begin.

I am unable to get the wiring and the outlet to fit back into the outlet box so I can screw down the outlet to the box. The cables put so much pressure on the outlet that the screws just pop right out of the outlet box (I think the screw holes are now stripped on the outlet box). The wire is thick and not easily bendable. There are a couple more outlets that need to be replaced and now I'm afraid to even attempt them. Is there a trick to getting all the cables to fit back into the outlet box or is it normally not this difficult?
 
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  #2  
Old 03-18-05, 05:50 PM
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Do this with the power turned off.
First, you have to forcefully arrange the wire with some loops which will "collapse" as you tighten up the screws.

Now, to fix the stripped our screw threads, you can insert some pieces of toothpicks jammed into the hole with some yellow glue. When this sets up, it will take a screw. You might need to CAREFULLY drill a tiny pilot hole.

Other folks will probably have some other ideas how to repair the threads.
 
  #3  
Old 03-18-05, 06:01 PM
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Thanks for the ideas.

Another question is what is the difference between "residential grade" and "commercial grade" outlets?

I was in Lowes and they had both, with the commercial grade outlets being about a dollar more. I noticed the commercial grade outlets allowed for either the wiring to be wrapped around the screw or inserted into holes in the back of the outlet whereas the residential outlet did not. The outlet I replaced had the wires connected into the holes in the back of that outlet but I purchased the residential outlet so I had to wrap the wires around the screws on the sides of the new outlet. Is one way preferred over the other?
 
  #4  
Old 03-18-05, 06:34 PM
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Residential = cheap.
Commercial = not so cheap.

Some people don't like the commercial grade because it grips the plugs more firmly, sometimes to the point of making it hard to unplug something.

Wires wrapped around screws make excellent connections in general. There are two kinds of wires poked into holes. The kind where you insert the wire and then tighten a screw to force a pressure plate against it is called a backwire, and the connection is good too. The kind where you just stick in the wire and it grabs it without the need to tighten a screw is called a backstab, and that connection is truly horrible--it's just barely good enough to work for a few years.
 
  #5  
Old 03-18-05, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
Residential = cheap.
Commercial = not so cheap.

Some people don't like the commercial grade because it grips the plugs more firmly, sometimes to the point of making it hard to unplug something.

Wires wrapped around screws make excellent connections in general. There are two kinds of wires poked into holes. The kind where you insert the wire and then tighten a screw to force a pressure plate against it is called a backwire, and the connection is good too. The kind where you just stick in the wire and it grabs it without the need to tighten a screw is called a backstab, and that connection is truly horrible--it's just barely good enough to work for a few years.

Thanks, that is great information. I think the original outlets I have use the backstab connections because I couldnt remove the wiring from the outlet even after loosening the screws, I had to cut the wires. I think I'll go back and pick up the commercial grade outlets, I dont mind a bit more grip. The problem with my current outlets are that some of them are kind of loose where the plug falls out quite easily and some of the outlets are prone to having the plug moved just so and I lose power to whatever is plugged in. Sounds like those backstab connections are pretty poor.
 
  #6  
Old 03-18-05, 06:58 PM
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No, don't cut the wires to release them from the backstabs. All backstab connections have a little slit next to the hole. Stick a small screwdriver down the slit and it will release the wire.
 
  #7  
Old 03-18-05, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
No, don't cut the wires to release them from the backstabs. All backstab connections have a little slit next to the hole. Stick a small screwdriver down the slit and it will release the wire.
I'll keep that in mind. Well, I'm feeling a bit better about going back tomorrow to tackle this job again. I was so frustrated earlier today with this I was ready to pay somebody to do this work for me. I'll post back how it turns out.
 
  #8  
Old 03-18-05, 11:23 PM
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In my house, I use commercial outlets for areas where I know there will be plenty of plugging and unplugging like kitchen counters. They really hold up well to abuse. I use the cheapies for other places like behind furniture, in bedrooms and the like. It's an easy way to save a few bucks.
 
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