New Receptacle - Break-off fin?

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  #1  
Old 02-06-13, 10:13 AM
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New Receptacle - Break-off fin?

I'm replacing 4 receptacles in one of our rooms with these ones from Leviton.

Our outlets contain 2 black wires, 2 white wires and a ground wire. Using my voltage tester it looks like only one of the black wires is hot.

The install instructions from Leviton are in the diagram below. They include instructions for both a common feed and split feed installs and for the split feed install they say to remove a break-off fin.

How do I determine which of these two feeds I have and, if it's a split feed, where is the break-off fin? I'm assuming mine is a split feed since I have 2 black wires like their diagram, but I want to be sure before I complete the install and move onto the other outlets.

Thank you
 
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  #2  
Old 02-06-13, 10:21 AM
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If it ain't broke on the old one don't break it on the new one. If you had a split feed I'd expect to see two different color hots such as black or red I can think of circumstances where that wouldn't be true. You need a multimeter, test light, or solenoid tester to be sure. Simplest though is just look at the old receptacle.
 
  #3  
Old 02-06-13, 10:43 AM
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I suspect there is another outlet(s) or light in series to that plug. If you do not connect the dead black and white wires, what items in the house no longer have power?

Oh, and as mentioned by others, don't break off the fin.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 11:12 AM
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Common reasons for breaking off the fin:
1 Half the receptacle is switched
2 Top and bottom halves of the receptacle are on different circuits (my understanding is this is common or even code in Canadian kitchens)

In either case, there are two different hot wires feeding the receptacle. You do not have this situation or another one like it, leave the tab.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 11:15 AM
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I should have mentioned that when I initially tested the 4 wires with the voltage tester, the old outlet had already been removed and all 4 wires were sticking out of the junction box.

As well, right after posting, I connected the new receptacle (no fin removed) and verified that the outlet is working. Also, this time when I touch the black wires with voltage tester, both are hot (ie voltage tester lights up red). I'm assuming one black wire is carrying it in and then then other is carrying it out and this is why both black wires need to be connected to the receptacle for both to light up.

ray2047, I only have black and white wires, and a ground wire in the junction boxes (verified in a second one in the room).

Northern light, when the 4 wires in this outlet weren't connected to the receptacle, the other receptacles in the room woldn't work, as well as a ceiling light and more receptacles in the room below it. Also, yesterday I replaced the light switch in the room. When I returned from the breaker panel to test the switch, it wasn't working, nor were any of the outlets. I then noticed I had made a mistake with the wiring of the third black wire in the light switch and once this was fixed the light worked and I was getting power again at the first outlet I'm replacing.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 11:22 AM
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Common reasons for breaking off the fin:
1 Half the receptacle is switched
2 Top and bottom halves of the receptacle are on different circuits (my understanding is this is common or even code in Canadian kitchens)
In either case, there are two different hot wires feeding the receptacle. You do not have this situation or another one like it, leave the tab.
This is common practice in my area and is done in my current home.
It allows for two heating appliances (higher current draw) to be plugged into the same receptical (toaster and coffee maker for example).
 

Last edited by Northern Mike; 02-06-13 at 11:23 AM. Reason: Formatting
  #7  
Old 02-06-13, 11:50 AM
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If you mean a non contact tester when you write "voltage tester". Be aware they are pron to false positives. For testing use the devices I mentioned in my previous post.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 12:48 PM
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Thanks for all the info. I'm installing the remaining receptacles without the fin removed.

However, I have come across another issue. One of the receptacles actually has 3 black and 3 white wires. On the existing install, 2 of each color are plugged into the holes in the back of the receptacle and 1 of each color are tied around a screw (white on lower left side screw, black on upper right side screw). This is the only junction box in the room that is being fed from three main wires, all the other are fed by two main wires.

I'm not sure why this box is like this, but the other issue I have is I can't replicate the original install as the replacement receptacle I'm using (linked to in the original post) only has 4 screws and no rear holes for connections. Do I need to get a different receptacle or is there a way to attach these 6 wires in the box to the 4 screws on my replacement receptacle?
 
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Old 02-06-13, 01:04 PM
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Do you know what I mean if I say pigtail? That's what I'd do here.

Put all of the blacks into a wire nut along with a short piece of black wire which then attaches to the receptacle. Same applies to the whites and the grounds.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 01:11 PM
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I think I've been guilty of what you have found. What they are probably doing is using the receptacle as the connection point to feed further on down line. What should be done is to tie all the blacks together, all the whites together and then use a short piece of wire to connect to the receptacle. Of course this is after verifying the actual circumstances.

They even make wire nuts with a short piece of wire coming out the top for this purpose (though that may just be for grounds).
 
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Old 02-06-13, 01:17 PM
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Nope, you can get them in a variety of colors.

 
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Old 02-06-13, 01:26 PM
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Do you know what I mean if I say pigtail? That's what I'd do here.

Put all of the blacks into a wire nut along with a short piece of black wire which then attaches to the receptacle. Same applies to the whites and the grounds.
Thanks for the info, this makes sense. I'll have to pick up some wire from HD since I don't have any lying around.

Should I have used this method on the other receptacles that only had 4 wires (2 black , 2 white) rather than connecting each wire to an individual screw? I guess I'm wondering which is the preferred method.
 
  #13  
Old 02-06-13, 01:55 PM
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Each individual screw is fine for two pair of wires, you are good to go.
 
  #14  
Old 02-06-13, 02:01 PM
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Should I have used this method on the other receptacles that only had 4 wires (2 black , 2 white) rather than connecting each wire to an individual screw? I guess I'm wondering which is the preferred method.
Making the splice with the pigtail is preferred. Think of it as building a bypass with an on/off ramp instead of making all the traffic go through town.

That said, either way is acceptable.
 
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