Three sets of wires on one receptacle????? Is it safe?

Old 02-05-02, 06:20 PM
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Question Three sets of wires on one receptacle????? Is it safe?

I recently went to change a duplex receptacle in my basement and found that there were three sets of wires screwed into it (no ground wires, just three hot wires and three white wires). Since there are only two sets of screws on the outlet, the previous homeowner had attached two wires each to two of the screws. I know that this is not correct!

I attached the new outlet by attaching two sets of wires to the two screws and attaching the third set of wires to the "plug-in" holes in the back of the rceptacle.

I know you are supposed to get small pieces of wire and "pigtail" it to two sets of wires so that you only end up with two sets of wires being connected to the receptacle (right?).

The question:
Is it safe to leave the outlet "as is," meaning three sets of wires connected to it (two wires plugged in the back)? I always thought that the danger in screwing two wires to one screw was that the connections might not be good or stay solid. My connections "as is" are solid. Is there another danger in leaving these wires connected like this? Should I redo the connections using pigtail wires?

Thanks in advance!
Old 02-05-02, 06:55 PM
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I would pigtail. No explaination.

Remember "Should I redo the connections using pigtail wires? "

Again I would.
Old 02-05-02, 09:58 PM
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This was asked a while ago and a regular from the electrical forum offered this explanation.
The oulet has one set of wires to feed it and it is then feeding at least two other sources. IF the two other sources are used simultanioulsy then the outlet must be able to handle the pull or wear. Pigtailing prevents this.......
Old 02-06-02, 12:36 PM
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I also have many occurrences of this in my house. Besides the problem of a wire coming loose, is there a danger or code violation in doing this?
Old 02-06-02, 12:43 PM
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The UL listing only allows one set of feed thru conductors to be conneced to the receptacle. Here is the section from the UL White Book.
"Single and duplex receptacles rated 15 amp and 20 amp that are provided with more than one set of terminals for the connection of line and neutral conductors may be used to feed a single set of branch circuit conductors connected to other receptacles on a multi-outlet branch circuit. These devices have not been tested for tapping off more than one circuit from the receptacle by utilizing both the side-wiring and back-wiring terminals on an outlet."
Old 02-06-02, 07:40 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to reply!

I will definitely do the pigtails. It sounds like there may be some danger in leaving all those wires connected and I'd rather play it safe!

Old 02-09-02, 09:46 AM
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resqcapt19 said it right in the white book of UL. 110.3.B is the rule that says you must do it as listed and labled by both the manufacturer and the testing labratory.

110.14.A requires terminals that are designed for more than one conductor in the connection must be listed, labled and identified for use with more than one conductor.

2002 NEC
Terminals for more than one conductor and terminals used to connect aluminum shall be so identified.

Hope this helps


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