Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

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A. Spruce
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Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Sun Dec 22, 2019 10:12 am

So, what's the code on backstabbing outlets and switches? I've been tasked with replacing all of them in a house. The switches are all backstabbed, which doesn't bother me. I have not done any of the outlets yet, but expect to find more of the same.

I know that wrapping the wires on the lugs is much much better and plan to do this with the outlets, regardless of how they are currently. I have not been concerned with the switches because they have virtually no load on them since everything in the house is LED.
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by emtnut » Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:57 am

Code wise it's compliant. But they are a known hazard, and often you see them failing.
I'd get rid of all the stabs, and use the screw terminals.

I see what you're saying about the light switch and the load, but often the backstab can fail if there is a short circuit at some point.
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:33 pm

Not my problem, man! You're just trying to make me work harder and run up the client's bill, ain't ya! :mrgreen: :lol:

I figured this would be the answer, and I'm all for wrapping the lugs. :cool:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Sun Dec 22, 2019 3:06 pm

Backstabbing is not to be confused with back-wiring. Many mid- to higher-grade switches and recepts have backwire terminals and those are AWESOME.

You can wire as thick as #10, solid or stranded. You strip off 1/2" and just poke it in the hole. Tighten the screw and a plate clamps it. No bending the conductor around a screw. It's so clean, and best of all, you can put two conductors on each side of the screw for a very solid tap/splice.

GFCI recepts have had them for years but now normal switches and recepts have them. At least the better quality ones.

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Sun Dec 22, 2019 3:35 pm

It absolutely amazes me that backstabbing (#14 solid only) devices still exist today. UL and CSA should delist them.

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:46 pm

I love the way wires attach to GFIs and wish that all outlets and switches had the same, at an affordable price.

IMHO, there are a lot of codes that make no sense and should be abolished, but who am I to question the man? :lol:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Mon Dec 23, 2019 3:21 am

They keep inventing new codes for industry, that only speciously improve safety but sell accessories and new devices. I'm calling it now, in the next NEC revision I bet they're going to require wrapping devices in electrical tape so Ideal can sell their new "ArmourBand" product which I would end up using instead because electrical tape sucks.

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Shannon » Mon Dec 23, 2019 7:23 am

I actually do wrap my receptacles with tape now,90% of the time anyways. Just a habit my electrician got me doing.
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:12 am

The electrician being your son? ;)

I don't like the tape because it tends to unravel and get loose after it starts to oxidize, and then it leaves a gross sticky residue on the devices and the adhesive separates from the PVC tape itself.

Plus there's just no real reason for it. Your wiring should be neat and tidy behind the device and if the device is securely screwed down, it's absolutely impossible anything could touch the screws with the cover plate on.

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:30 am

Aaron wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:12 am
Plus there's just no real reason for it. Your wiring should be neat and tidy behind the device and if the device is securely screwed down, it's absolutely impossible anything could touch the screws with the cover plate on.
But what if you slip with the butter knife while you're trying to install a new device? :o :? :mrgreen:

The project is moving along nicely, most of the switches and outlets have been replaced. The only issue is that my helper neglected to break the tab on the hot side for the switched outlets. It's so hard to find good help these days. :| I guess I should cut her some slack, she's never changed a device before.

Sort of on the topic of taping devices, what about clearly and accurately marking service panels? I've got 4 breakers marked "lights/plugs", yet NONE of those kill any lights or plugs. Half a dozen other breakers are marked with various non-specific things like "wash", there might be a "disposal", can't remember the other ones, but they sure as heck weren't "lights" OR "plugs", and even those didn't kill everything we need to change out. There were only a couple other 110v breakers I didn't flip, the rest were 220v.

I've got another client that is having a problem with several outlets that I suspect to be on the same circuit, same problem, the box is not clearly marked, none of the "lights/plugs" breakers kill the outlets in question. We even shut off every 110 breaker, one by one, trying to find it and never did. They must be powered off the neighbors house. :roll: :lol:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by emtnut » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:49 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:33 pm
Not my problem, man! You're just trying to make me work harder and run up the client's bill, ain't ya! :mrgreen: :lol:

I figured this would be the answer, and I'm all for wrapping the lugs. :cool:
Well, yeah !! Work harder man :mrgreen:

Oh, and don't forget to stop by the hardware store and buy a torque screwdriver
NEC requires it now ... since they can't trust you to make it "guut and tighten" :lol:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by emtnut » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:51 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:30 am

Sort of on the topic of taping devices, what about clearly and accurately marking service panels? I've got 4 breakers marked "lights/plugs", yet NONE of those kill any lights or plugs. Half a dozen other breakers are marked with various non-specific things like "wash", there might be a "disposal", can't remember the other ones, but they sure as heck weren't "lights" OR "plugs", and even those didn't kill everything we need to change out. There were only a couple other 110v breakers I didn't flip, the rest were 220v.

I've got another client that is having a problem with several outlets that I suspect to be on the same circuit, same problem, the box is not clearly marked, none of the "lights/plugs" breakers kill the outlets in question. We even shut off every 110 breaker, one by one, trying to find it and never did. They must be powered off the neighbors house. :roll: :lol:
When you say '240V' breaker , are you counting breakers that have a tie handle ? Those could be MWBCs.

A MWBC could be on a regular 240V breaker as well.
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Shannon » Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:18 pm

Aaron wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:12 am
The electrician being your son? ;)
My son is a 3rd year apprentice yes ,but he is not my regular electrician that I speak of.
I don't like the tape because it tends to unravel and get loose after it starts to oxidize, and then it leaves a gross sticky residue on the devices and the adhesive separates from the PVC tape itself.

Plus there's just no real reason for it. Your wiring should be neat and tidy behind the device and if the device is securely screwed down, it's absolutely impossible anything could touch the screws with the cover plate on.
When i am installing drywall in an already wired room I pull the devices all out and tape them up, they sometimes hang there for a day or two and this keeps them a little more safe. I generally put them back in the box with tape still installed. I defiantly give them more than a couple wraps and the ones i have been back into don't seem to come unraveled but they do have a sticky film when pulling the tape when I have had to replace one a few years later.
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Dec 23, 2019 10:25 pm

emtnut wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:51 pm
When you say '240V' breaker , are you counting breakers that have a tie handle ? Those could be MWBCs.

A MWBC could be on a regular 240V breaker as well.
Engrish, man! Engrish!!! :lol:

I don't know what an MWBC is. I say 220 breaker because it's for furnace, dryer, range, that sort of thing, IF you believe the markings in the panel. Plus, bigger amp breakers and usually tied together.

I will just throw the main disconnect tomorrow to finish out the rest of the devices. No point trying to find individual breakers if you don't have to.
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:16 am

Shannon wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:18 pm
My son is a 3rd year apprentice yes ,but he is not my regular electrician that I speak of.
That's great he got into that trade. I think electricians enjoy good job security.
Shannon wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:18 pm
When i am installing drywall in an already wired room I pull the devices all out and tape them up, they sometimes hang there for a day or two and this keeps them a little more safe. I generally put them back in the box with tape still installed. I defiantly give them more than a couple wraps and the ones i have been back into don't seem to come unraveled but they do have a sticky film when pulling the tape when I have had to replace one a few years later.
Ah, yeah, in that case it makes sense. I have had the devices hanging out temporarily in construction areas to use power tools and lights and stuff. Yeah you need to grasp the device to plug and unplug, and in that case it for sure needs to be wrapped in tape so you don't zap yourself.

That new Ideal product ArmourBand coming out would probably be a good compromise. All it is just a fat rubber band that you slip around the device. But you'll have to remember to slip it around the wires you attach to the device before you terminate the wires to the screws, otherwise you have to stretch it around the front of the device and that could be awkward.

I've also seen receptacles that have a flip covers for the screws, but they looked like a specialty device more $. But a darn good feature.
A. Spruce wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 10:25 pm

Engrish, man! Engrish!!! :lol:

I don't know what an MWBC is. I say 220 breaker because it's for furnace, dryer, range, that sort of thing, IF you believe the markings in the panel. Plus, bigger amp breakers and usually tied together.
MWBC = Multi-Wire Branch Circuit. It's where you have a single neutral that is shared by two or more poles (hots). It was not uncommon to have a waste disposer and dishwasher as a MWBC, with 14/3 ran to a double-pole 15A breaker, for example.

MWBCs can wreak havoc with GFCIs and with new AFCI requirements in residential construction, I think they're not practical anymore.
A. Spruce wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 10:25 pm
I will just throw the main disconnect tomorrow to finish out the rest of the devices. No point trying to find individual breakers if you don't have to.
I sometimes do this when I'm impatient! I never trust circuit directories written on panels. They basically give you a CLUE about that breaker corresponds to a circuit you are working on, so that you're less likely to shut off the wrong one... but as luck always has it, the circuit you're working on is some mystery circuit, as you're experiencing.

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:51 am

Do MWBCs usually have the tie bar between the handles?
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:00 am

A. Spruce wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:51 am
Do MWBCs usually have the tie bar between the handles?
Yes. They're supposed to. Either two single-pole breakers with the handles tied together, or a double-pole breaker.

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:06 am

emtnut wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:49 pm
Oh, and don't forget to stop by the hardware store and buy a torque screwdriver NEC requires it now ... since they can't trust you to make it "guut and tighten" :lol:
SERIOUSLY? Okay, I'm not and gonna say I did.

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Tue Dec 24, 2019 12:58 pm

emtnut wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:49 pm
Oh, and don't forget to stop by the hardware store and buy a torque screwdriver
NEC requires it now ... since they can't trust you to make it "guut and tighten" :lol:
Nah, any fastener worth tightening gets torqued to yield! :twisted: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Tue Dec 24, 2019 2:32 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 12:58 pm
Nah, any fastener worth tightening gets torqued to yield! :twisted: :lol: :lol:
Strip off that screw head!!!! :lol:

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by emtnut » Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:40 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:51 am
Do MWBCs usually have the tie bar between the handles?
Up here (CEC) no requirement for a handle tie with MWBCs.
NEC used to be the same, It was either 2011 or 2014 code cycle that brought that requirement in.
Doesn't mean that a handyman didn't wire up a MWBC to a 2 pole breaker !
The tell-tale sign, is a 14/3 or 12/3 cable landing on 2 breakers with the single neutral.

I re-read your post, and you said you didn't turn off ALL the 120V breakers. If you need the power off, try that first ... and as you say, there's always the main breaker :mrgreen:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by emtnut » Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:45 pm

A. Spruce wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 12:58 pm
emtnut wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:49 pm
Oh, and don't forget to stop by the hardware store and buy a torque screwdriver
NEC requires it now ... since they can't trust you to make it "guut and tighten" :lol:
Nah, any fastener worth tightening gets torqued to yield! :twisted: :lol: :lol:
Not trying to derail your thread ... but ....

Back in around 1998, the transportation industry started mandatory tourquing for heavy equipment tires (I think they did for cars as well).
Within 6 months, there were reports of 18 wheelers "loosing" their wheels on the highway !!!

Then they came up with the " must be re-tourqued 1 week after initial tourquing"

Gotta love engineers :lol:

Guut and Tighten is such a subjective thing, ain't it :mrgreen:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:48 pm

Aaron wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 2:32 pm
A. Spruce wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 12:58 pm
Nah, any fastener worth tightening gets torqued to yield! :twisted: :lol: :lol:
Strip off that screw head!!!! :lol:
Torque to yield is actually the point when the fastener stretches beyond the point of return. Found frequently in the automotive industry, which is why it is recommended to replace things like head bolts if you pull a head.
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:53 pm

emtnut wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:40 pm
I re-read your post, and you said you didn't turn off ALL the 120V breakers. If you need the power off, try that first ... and as you say, there's always the main breaker :mrgreen:
Yeah, it was easier to throw the main than to try to figure out which breakers controlled what. Got all the devices changed out and only had one minor issue of reversed hot/neutral at one GFI. Not sure how I managed that one, but that's why we always check our work, kids! :lol:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:29 pm

emtnut wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:40 pm
Up here (CEC) no requirement for a handle tie with MWBCs. NEC used to be the same, It was either 2011 or 2014 code cycle that brought that requirement in. Doesn't mean that a handyman didn't wire up a MWBC to a 2 pole breaker ! The tell-tale sign, is a 14/3 or 12/3 cable landing on 2 breakers with the single neutral.
You know that's interesting because I'm pretty sure I have an MWBC wired in my house's panel with neither a double pole breaker nor a handle-tie between two single pole breakers. I wired it in, even, and I didn't know at the time the 2-pole or tie was necessary, but I'm pretty sure I would have known if it were true at the time.

It's sort of debatable what utility it serves to tie the handles together. For a 240V load it makes more sense, if one or both of the legs are faulty you want the whole thing shut down for safety. But for MWBC, it can be hard to troubleshoot a faulty conductor if the whole mess is all tripping at once.
emtnut wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:45 pm
Not trying to derail your thread ... but ....

Back in around 1998, the transportation industry started mandatory tourquing for heavy equipment tires (I think they did for cars as well).
Within 6 months, there were reports of 18 wheelers "loosing" their wheels on the highway !!!

Then they came up with the " must be re-tourqued 1 week after initial tourquing"

Gotta love engineers :lol:

Guut and Tighten is such a subjective thing, ain't it :mrgreen:
Most good work just requires good motivation, pride, and job satisfaction. You can define performance benchmarks, but you just can't write down precisely something that would come so naturally to an experienced and skilled tradesman.

It closely relates to the "you can't fix stupid" rule.

You can mandate the use of a torque screwdriver, but it just doesn't mean anything if a person torques the screws equal to or better than the torque required.
A. Spruce wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:48 pm
Torque to yield is actually the point when the fastener stretches beyond the point of return. Found frequently in the automotive industry, which is why it is recommended to replace things like head bolts if you pull a head.
Ah, I suppose, studs sometimes will sheer off a wheel hub with a pneumatic wrench if the lug nuts are overtightened and/or completely corroded. I know you Californians never see rust, it's a big problem up here.
A. Spruce wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:53 pm
Yeah, it was easier to throw the main than to try to figure out which breakers controlled what. Got all the devices changed out and only had one minor issue of reversed hot/neutral at one GFI. Not sure how I managed that one, but that's why we always check our work, kids! :lol:
Not enough contrast between those black and white wires? :mrgreen: :lol:

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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by A. Spruce » Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:56 pm

Aaron wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:29 pm
Not enough contrast between those black and white wires? :mrgreen: :lol:
Nah, I just don't appreciate the "love bites" when you errantly ground yourself while playing with the hot lead. I was also working with a newbie who seriously didn't want any love bites. :lol:
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by emtnut » Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:55 pm

Aaron wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:29 pm

It's sort of debatable what utility it serves to tie the handles together. For a 240V load it makes more sense, if one or both of the legs are faulty you want the whole thing shut down for safety. But for MWBC, it can be hard to troubleshoot a faulty conductor if the whole mess is all tripping at once.
Missed this question ! ....

The rule is to prevent landing the 2 breakers on the same phase. That can overload the neutral shared wire.
Also, if someone turns off just the one breaker to work on the circuit, there can still be a live conductor in some of the device boxes.

Most NEC electricians don't like the rule, or think it's a 'nanny state' thing. Any electrician knows how to set it up, but it's really more for handymen (in their opinion)

We don't have the rule up here (yet, anyways). Maybe it would be good, I've seen a lot of cooked neutrals on panels, and almost always it's a MWBC wired to the same phase.
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Re: Why you backstabbing son of a . . .

Post by Aaron » Thu Jan 02, 2020 9:56 pm

Hah, I suppose I see the safety aspect, it enforces breaker adjacency, and therefore probable load distribution.