4 blacks to one screw on receptacle

Reply

  #1  
Old 08-09-14, 12:09 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
4 blacks to one screw on receptacle

Name:  bathroom wiring.jpg
Views: 721
Size:  10.6 KB

I havn't tested any wires in this setup yet. There are 2 single pole light switches and 1 receptacle in 3 gang box. I've made a paint drawing on the computer to show how these things are wired up. The 4 black wires coming to the brass screw on receptacle is baffling me. 1 of the blacks would be the feed wire and 1 of them is going to the light switch next to the receptacle. Does that mean the other 2 are feeding other receptacles/lights somewhere else in the house? What is going on here?

The Grey shaded region represents the cable (bomex).
The neutral white wires are all pigtailed together. One neutral is connected to the receptacle.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-09-14, 03:21 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,967
Received 5 Votes on 5 Posts
The blacks should also be pigtailed, not sure what magic someone used to get 4 wires under one screw. To answer your question, yes the other cables service additional lighting or receptacles, which is ok.
 
  #3  
Old 08-09-14, 04:07 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,064
Received 75 Votes on 69 Posts
Sometimes (not often) a screw terminal is designed for more than one wire by being grooved or being equipped with a shaped washer so that the wires do not touch each other and the wires can't slide out from under sideways when the screw is not quite tightened yet.

AFAIK multiple wires may be curled around one screw with washers between the stacked wire ends. As above, the wire ends must not touch each other and must not be able to slip out sideways. Sometimes this won't work because the screw head protrudes far enough to touch some other metal object such as the side of the outlet box.

Connecting all the wire ends to a short length (pigtail) with the other end of the pigtail connected to the screw is greatly preferred. This method also makes it easier to stuff the receptacle, etc. back into the box.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-09-14 at 04:23 AM.
  #4  
Old 08-09-14, 04:15 AM
bigboypete's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 218
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
AFAIK multiple wires can be curled around one screw with washers between the wire ends. Sometimes this won't work because the screw head protrudes far enough to touch some other metal object such as the side of the outlet box.
There are no standard devices listed for such an installation and I have never seen what you describe.

Whoever wired the OP's outlet like that was not a very intelligent person.
 
  #5  
Old 08-09-14, 04:28 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,064
Received 75 Votes on 69 Posts
Another method I have seen in appliance and electronic wiring although not in an outlet box is attaching each wire end to a spade lug and inserting all of the spade lugs under the screw.
 
  #6  
Old 08-09-14, 04:45 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 15,142
Received 83 Votes on 71 Posts
The box is being used as a splice point with the incoming power and also outgoing power to other parts of the circuit.

One wire under each screw head unless they have the back-wire clamp.
 
  #7  
Old 08-09-14, 05:07 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,967
Received 5 Votes on 5 Posts
I have noticed on more modern switches and receptacles, you have to really force the crook under the screw head. Maybe it is just me. HOWEVER, putting two, certainly 4 wires under one screw will never happen.....and shouldn't.
 
  #8  
Old 08-09-14, 07:54 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
They are all tied together with roughly 1 1" black wire to the terminal screw from the cluster of black wires. They have black electrical tape around them but I'd say there is a wire nut there.
 
  #9  
Old 08-09-14, 10:42 AM
bigboypete's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 218
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
They are all tied together with roughly 1 1" black wire to the terminal screw from the cluster of black wires. They have black electrical tape around them but I'd say there is a wire nut there.
it now sounds like they are pigtailed. No issue there... move on.
 
  #10  
Old 08-09-14, 11:21 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 10,638
Received 83 Votes on 73 Posts
They are all tied together with roughly 1 1" black wire to the terminal screw from the cluster of black wires. They have black electrical tape around them but I'd say there is a wire nut there.
That actually sounds like a jackleg pigtail that needs to be pigtailed correctly.
 
  #11  
Old 08-09-14, 12:34 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
To replace this receptacle just wire nuts the blacks together the way they were? I want to put a GFCI outlet here because it's next to the bathroom sink.
 
  #12  
Old 08-09-14, 01:10 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
A bathroom receptacle should be on a 20 amp dedicated circuit. If not some of those blacks may need to go to the load side and the rest remain on the line side. What does each of the blacks feed?.
 
  #13  
Old 08-09-14, 05:13 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
One feeds the light switch directly beside it which I can see. The other 3 are going out of the box to somewhere else in the circuit. There are 5 receptacles and 6 light switches on this circuit. 2 light switches are in same box as this receptacle. After removing the black electrical tape from the black wires, they look like they were sodered together or something. The neutral wires look like they were done the same way with electrical tape wrapped around them which you can see in the box. How do I put a new GFCI in with this mess?

Name:  Bathroom 3.jpg
Views: 437
Size:  33.1 KB
 
Attached Images  
  #14  
Old 08-09-14, 05:57 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
A bathroom receptacle should be on a 20 amp dedicated circuit. If not some of those blacks may need to go to the load side and the rest remain on the line side. What does each of the blacks feed?.
I can't check what these wires feed because I cant disconnect 1 wire at a time and test what else in the circuit is not working due to my pictures below. I guess I could disconnect the entire group and then see whats not working in the circuit but I couldn't pin point which black wire feeds what light or receptacle for sure.
 
  #15  
Old 08-09-14, 06:10 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Looking at that mess I would say remove the receptacle. Slip heat shrink tubing of the correct color over the cloth wires.Reinstall the switch and Connect all remaining blacks to blacks. all whites to whites to whites. Put a half blank cover plate on it. Run a new dedicated 20 amp circuit for a new bathroom receptacle circuit.

Reasons:
Not a grounded circuit.*
Box may be to full to easily fit a GFCI.
Wires already in there may exceed box capacity.
Circuit may be too heavily loaded to support a bathroom receptacle.

*While a GFCI will work on an ungrounded circuit a grounded circuit is safer.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-09-14 at 06:49 PM.
  #16  
Old 08-09-14, 06:31 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Looking at that mess I would say remove the receptacle. Slip heat shink tubing of the correct color over the cloth wires.Connect all blacks to blacks. all whites to whites to whites. Put a blank cover plate on it. Run a new dedicated 20 amp circuit for a new bathroom circuit.

Reasons:
Not a grounded circuit.*
Box to full to easily fit a GFCI.
Wires already in there may exceed box capacity.
Circuit is two heavily loaded to support a bathroom receptacle.

*While a GFCI will work on an ungrounded circuit a grounded circuit is safer.
There are bare copper grounds attached to screw in back of metal box at the bottom. The circuit is grounded as far as I can tell. What do you mean by using the heat shrink tubing and connecting all blacks to blacks and white to whites and the blank cover? Do you just mean basically capping this whole thing off and not using it anymore? To do this, I would have to locate all the receptacles/lights that are fed from this receptacle currently somehow. Oh WAIT, my bad, that's why you said to connect all the blacks to blacks and whites to whites, to complete the circuit where everything else would still be working, correct?

Sorry, I'm still pretty new to all this and trying to understand what you mean. Please elaborate for me if you would.

Mod note: The quote above was from a post that has since been changed. The new quote is
Looking at that mess I would say remove the receptacle. Slip heat shrink tubing of the correct color over the cloth wires.Reinstall the switch and Connect all remaining blacks to blacks. all whites to whites to whites. Put a half blank cover plate on it. Run a new dedicated 20 amp circuit for a new bathroom receptacle circuit.

Reasons:
Not a grounded circuit.*
Box may be to full to easily fit a GFCI.
Wires already in there may exceed box capacity.
Circuit may be too heavily loaded to support a bathroom receptacle.

*While a GFCI will work on an ungrounded circuit a grounded circuit is safer.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-09-14 at 07:02 PM.
  #17  
Old 08-09-14, 06:40 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 279
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
To replace this receptacle just wire nuts the blacks together the way they were? I want to put a GFCI outlet here because it's next to the bathroom sink.

yes

wirenut all the blacks and pigtail to line side ofgfci outlet.........wire nut all whites and pigtail to line side of outlet

you can use an extension box if you need the room. use a wiremold box
 
  #18  
Old 08-09-14, 06:59 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
John, I edited my reply after you copied your quote. I didn't know there was a switch in the box. From what I am seeing the original wiring was cloth covered. The ground wires I see are from modern NM-b with ground that was added after the fact in violation of code. Even if it was originally wired with BX old style Bx does not supply a reliable ground.

If I was hired to work on that I would remove the whole mess and go from scratch. I wouldn't want the liability of working on it but I gave the O/P a more moderate approach.
 
  #19  
Old 08-10-14, 04:38 AM
bigboypete's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 218
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
You will not be able to fit a gfci outlet in that box.
 
  #20  
Old 08-10-14, 07:31 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
wirenut all the blacks and pigtail to line side ofgfci outlet.........wire nut all whites and pigtail to line side of outlet
Is it safe to place a wirenut over the sodering of all black wires?

You will not be able to fit a gfci outlet in that box.
I was afraid of that but was going to try it first. I'll have to remove that old box and install a newer bigger one. This all hinges on whether or not it's ok to place wirenut over sodered together black wires.

ohn, I edited my reply after you copied your quote. I didn't know there was a switch in the box. From what I am seeing the original wiring was cloth covered. The ground wires I see are from modern NM-b with ground that was added after the fact in violation of code. Even if it was originally wired with BX old style Bx does not supply a reliable ground.
Are cloth covered wires bad? Just wish things could be rewired without removing drywall to see what this receptacle feeds. Is there a way to break the wires loose from the sodering and still be able to re-use them?
 
  #21  
Old 08-10-14, 07:37 AM
J
Member
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 279
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Is it safe to place a wirenut over the soldering of all black wires?
yes.............but if the joint is good ...tape it and leave it alone


are the wires twisted and soldered with one wire a few inches longer. if so leave it alone.
 
  #22  
Old 08-10-14, 07:41 AM
J
Member
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 279
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Are cloth covered wires bad?
cloth is old and might flake off .......put some tape on the wire to protect it.
 
  #23  
Old 08-10-14, 07:52 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by johnsc View Post
yes.............but if the joint is good ...tape it and leave it alone


are the wires twisted and soldered with one wire a few inches longer. if so leave it alone.
Yes the wires are twisted and soldered with 1 wire longer then the others and that longer wire is connected to terminal screw. If I get the right 3 gang box that's deep enough, just wire this same longer wire to brass terminal on GFCI? Will everything still be protected and work properly?
 
  #24  
Old 08-10-14, 07:52 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Are cloth covered wires bad?
Not if you don't touch them. If you move them around often the insulation will crumble and fall off. Then you have potential for a short. That is why I said slip heat shrink tubing over them.
Just wish things could be rewired without removing drywall to see what this receptacle feeds.
There is no need to. you already posted the correct way to do it.
I cant disconnect 1 wire at a time and test what else in the circuit is not working due to my pictures below.
Sure you can. Cutting off that soldered mess and checking where each cable feeds is better than ripping out a wall and will give you a clean start fixing it.

Do you want to do this right or go with the hack job that is there?
 
  #25  
Old 08-10-14, 08:46 AM
bigboypete's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 218
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
It is very hard to tell from the photo was it going on there but if one box looks that bad likely large or entire portions of the circuits in your house need serious attention. Your best course of action would be to contact a licensed electrician to assess the situation.
 
  #26  
Old 08-10-14, 09:12 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Yes the wires are twisted and soldered with 1 wire longer then the others
Is it 6" or longer? if not it needs to be replaced. Other then the fact pigtails need to be 6" or longer any shorter makes it difficult to get the device in the box. Before you wrote it was 1" long. That is just way too short.
 
  #27  
Old 08-10-14, 09:27 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 58,457
Received 1,026 Votes on 952 Posts
You basically have a can of worms there. If you are contemplating removing/changing the box then you had better also be prepared to open the wall to pull new cables. Once you cut the soldered connections your wires are going to be too short to remake new connections.
 
  #28  
Old 08-10-14, 10:02 AM
J
Member
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 279
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Yes the wires are twisted and soldered with 1 wire longer then the others and that longer wire is connected to terminal screw. If I get the right 3 gang box that's deep enough, just wire this same longer wire to brass terminal on GFCI? Will everything still be protected and work properly?
yes...make a pigtail off of the longer hot add a 15 in piece of black wire......this wire will go to the far switch and around one screw in a loop ...then the wire will proceed to the second switch and go around one screw ...........and then the wire will proceed to the hot line connection on the GFCI OUTLET.

hook the white up to the silver screw of the line connection.

when you think about where you are going to place the wirenuts in the box.........
.you will have more room behind the switches..............
or...........place the 2 switches in front of the big mass of wires

this may leave enought space in the other end of the box for the GFCI outlet.

if the white wire is to short...wirenut a longer wire to it.
 
  #29  
Old 08-12-14, 12:11 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Is it 6" or longer? if not it needs to be replaced. Other then the fact pigtails need to be 6" or longer any shorter makes it difficult to get the device in the box. Before you wrote it was 1" long. That is just way too short
Yes there is only roughly 1" of the longer wire to the terminal screw.

You basically have a can of worms there. If you are contemplating removing/changing the box then you had better also be prepared to open the wall to pull new cables. Once you cut the soldered connections your wires are going to be too short to remake new connections.
The wires are long enough to get a wire nut on all 4 and then I can cut a new piece thats 6" long to go from the wire nut pig tail to the terminal screw. Does that make sense and/or the correct way to do this?

I think I'm going to attempt what Johnsc said to do with this setup. Just remove soldering and pig tail the wires together, then cut a longer 6-10" black wire to go from pig tail to the terminal screw of gfci outlet. And then do the same with the neutral and grounds.
 
  #30  
Old 08-12-14, 12:24 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
But of course your are no where near code for a bathroom nor are the newer cables that were added code.. Be sure to sleeve the cloth covered wires.
 
  #31  
Old 08-12-14, 12:42 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
But of course your are no where near code for a bathroom nor are the newer cables that were added code.. Be sure to sleeve the cloth covered wires.
Is it not code because there are 4 black wires to one terminal screw? And put heat shrink sleeve over wires and shrink it on top of all but the end of the wires right? Just want to make sure I'm doing things right.
 
  #32  
Old 08-12-14, 01:39 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Is it not code because there are 4 black wires to one terminal screw?
No, if a pigtail was used as you are planning to do that would be okay. However only the bathroom receptacle and other loads can be on that circuit and by current code it must be 20 amps. You probably have a 15 amp circuit and some of the the cables are probably not for the bathroom. Even if they are they were added long after the original wiring and constitute extending an ungrounded circuit which is a code violation.
And put heat shrink sleeve over wires and shrink it on top of all but the end of the wires right?
Yes, just the cloth covered wire to preserve the insulation. White tubing on white and black tubing on black. It will probably be the cloth covered wires that go to line side og the GFCI if there are only two. (Black to brass, white to silver.) (Best practice they will need to be tested though to be sure.) The remainder of the wires connected to the existing receptacle to load side of the GFCI receptacle.
ust want to make sure I'm doing things right.
Best practice would be to run a new 20 amp circuit for the bathroom receptacle, run a new 15 amp circuit for those cables not used in the bathroom, and abandon in place the existing ungrounded cloth wiring from the breaker panel.
 
  #33  
Old 08-13-14, 05:05 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,064
Received 75 Votes on 69 Posts
... Just remove soldering and pig tail the wires together, then cut a longer 6-10" black wire to go from pig tail to the terminal screw ...
If you would otherwise connect two pigtails just to each other, neither soldered or permanently connected to something else, then it is better to substitute them both with one (longer if needed) pigtail.

In this example, if you unsolder the mess dropping loose the 1 inch pigtail, then discard that 1 inch pigtail instead of putting it back and attaching the new 6-10" black pigtail to it. (If you do not unsolder the mess then you will have to attach the new pigtail to the old one.)
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-13-14 at 05:48 AM.
  #34  
Old 09-01-14, 04:26 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I'm really confused about what's going on here in the bathroom. The 4 black wires that are all connected by soldering go to receptacle to switch to switch in that order. It's also only 1 black strand from the soldering that is tied to all 3 screws and not 3 strands. I removed this connection from the receptacle and everything on the circuit still worked. I reconnected that and removed the incoming connection to each light separately and everything still worked on circuit except the light that had wire strand removed. I then removed the wire strand from the other side of the receptacle and the receptacle was the only thing that didn't work on the circuit. I'm really confused to what these 4 black wires that are soldered together are doing. Please refer back to the pics and other posts previously to help see what I'm talking about.

Also, not sure why the two light switches both have a hot wire incoming from separate 12/2 bomex. What would be the reason for this? Wouldn't it only need 1 and then jump off that to the other one. These are on the same circuit as we'll.
 
  #35  
Old 09-02-14, 03:39 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thoughts on this matter anyone?
 
  #36  
Old 09-02-14, 04:07 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
If you are saying removing the four wires doesn't kill anything then cap them and don't connect them.
the two light switches both have a hot wire incoming from separate 12/2 bomex. What would be the reason for this?
They could be on different breakers.
 
  #37  
Old 09-02-14, 04:10 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The lights operate on same breaker. I could cap them off but it just makes me wonder where they run too from there. Am I doing something wrong?
 
  #38  
Old 09-02-14, 04:25 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Sometimes a circuit is just to screwed up to understand. The best approach is abandon it and run new wiring.
 
  #39  
Old 09-02-14, 05:03 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 215
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The rest of the house has made sense it's just this particular box and all the wires together. Maybe I should hire a professional in this case.
 
  #40  
Old 09-02-14, 06:03 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Yes, please hire an electrician. This problem needs a pro on site. When he finishes please let us know what he did.
 
Reply
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: