Kitchen outlet issues


Old 07-25-14, 10:56 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: United States
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Kitchen outlet issues

I'm replacing outlets/switches throughout the kitchen for aesthetic purposes; house was built in 1964. I removed one outlet between the breaker box and the dishwasher. All four screws on the side of the outlet had wires connected. There were also two wires stabbed into the back of the outlet - I had never seen all four screws used and wires stabbed in the back and thought it was unusual. So when I attached the new outlet, I just capped them thinking they were not necessary.

When I turned the breaker back on, the dishwasher would not work but the outlet worked fine. I later was told that those two wires in the back were likely routing electricity to the dishwasher.

I removed the new outlet and attempted to stab those same two wires into the back of the new outlet as they were in the original outlet (the same wires that I had capped). However, the wires were two thick to be stabbed into the back. I believe the wiring in the house is 12 gauge.

A friend suggested I pig-tail the 12 gauge wire in the wall to 14 gauge wire and then stab the 14 gauge wire into the rear of the outlet. When I went to buy the wire, the guy at the store said it should work but cautioned me that it could overheat.

Is this a wise plan or is there a better way?


PS: If you respond, I would appreciate you speaking in the most simple terms possible - clearly, I'm new at this.
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Old 07-25-14, 11:21 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
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As you figured out, all 3 black/white wires need to be connected together as you basically have one 'in' and two 'outs'. Back-stab receptacles are still manufactured, but have a rather poor lifespan, so most of us here will recommend not using the stab portion of them. You'd be best off wire-nutting the 3 wires together and adding a fourth to pigtail to the receptacle. They also have receptacles with pressure plates that can accept 4 wires (2 per screw) for hot/neutral.

That said, there are a few code and safety issues it sounds like you have:

1) You mention both 12 and 14ga wire. I assume the countertop receptacles are 12ga and on a 20A breaker (code-correct), but connecting a 14ga wire to a 20A breaker is a safety/overheating issue. That should have never been done.

2) The dishwasher should not have been connected to the countertop receptacles. NEC requires at least 2-20ASABC (countertop) circuits that are not connected to other items. The dishwasher should be on it's own circuit, or shared with something that isn't the countertop circuit.

3) With (2) 12/2 cables and (1) 14/2 cable, that box is likely getting pretty tight. Unless its an oversized box, it's probably over capacity, which makes it quite difficult to make secure connections and keep everything neat.

Do you have a basement that a new circuit could be easily run to the dishwasher?
Old 07-25-14, 01:02 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Great, thank you for the information!

The box is definitely very tight - I'm honestly not sure if I'd have room in the box to follow your suggestion and based on the code/safety issues, it might not be a good idea anyhow. I was pretty shocked to see how many wires they had crammed into the box and I had never seen a receptacle with so many wires attached.

We do not have a basement. It sounds like this is getting a bit out of my league so it might be good to have an electrician come tackle this issue. Do you have an approximation of how much it could cost to resolve this issue?

Thanks again!
Old 07-25-14, 02:06 PM
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Cost estimates are impossible to give from a keyboard without seeing the complexities of the job.

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