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Old 03-26-2013, 10:55 PM   #1
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


I am doing some work on a house I just bought recently and am trying to undo some poor electrical work on the receptacles in the newly finished basement. Whatever idiot did the wiring reversed the hot and neutral wires on half of the receptacles. It appears this person just randomly inserted the wires and maybe got them right about 50% of the time!!

So, anyway, should be an easy job, right? Well, I can't get the darn wires to release easily. I got two receptacles done but it took 10 plus mins of fighting with them each time. I am using a tiny flat blade screwdriver that you use for eyeglasses screws and I am pushing straight down on it but they won't budge. Do I need to push in at an angle? At times, I noticed that I was pulling on the receptacle a bit (and thus the wires) so maybe that was prohibiting them from being released but I recognized this somewhat and tried to refrain from doing that so much but the wires are still not budging easily.

Does anyone know a few tricks to try? This is completely frustrating as it is taking far too much time for something that I could have gotten done long ago.

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Old 03-26-2013, 10:57 PM   #2
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


I would just cut the wire flush and redo the connection.
Those times when the wire was too short, I used a small screwdriver like you are and pulled the wire out.

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Old 03-26-2013, 11:41 PM   #3
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


I run into this problem far to often. Use needle nose pliers to slowly twist/pry them out. Be sure to twist in one direction to avoid the wire from breaking.
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:59 AM   #4
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


With the electricity off...

And the ground wire removed...

Grasp the outlet by the "ears" (plaster rings / ends) and wiggle back and forth while pulling.

So counter clockwise to 9:00, then clockwise to 3:00, then counterclockwise to 9:00, etc. (quickly while pulling straight out).

The wires will come out in about 5 seconds max.
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Old 03-27-2013, 03:47 AM   #5
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


I usually crush the receptacle with a large pliers and install a new one. And use the screw terminals not the back-stabs.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:15 AM   #6
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


Quote:
Originally Posted by Maathai Wangari View Post
electrical work is really sensitive job. Unknown person should always be careful while doing electrical work. Don't use wet hands and always use dry hands. Don't take any risk until you not make sure what you are going to do in electrical work. Get some training then do this work.
What does that do with the question asked?
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:21 AM   #7
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


Just do what billy_bob said in post # 5. Twist side to side quickly while pulling on the wire. It will thread it's way out quickly.
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:23 AM   #8
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


Ok, so if I twist and force the wires out, I am pretty much ruining those two push in connectors on the receptacle. I already did this once and it would not hold the wire again after I forced it out. That is fine though cause there are two other push in connectors to use on the same receptacle with no problem, right? Or, I could just use the screw terminals.

However, there is one receptacle that is using ALL of the available slots (both sets of push ins and both sets of screws) so with that one, I am guessing the best course of action is to force them out and just buy another new receptacle?

Oh, and yes, I am taking precautions with all of this. Breaker is off and I verify twice by using both a receptacle tester and a voltage sniffer. I will just have to move that bucket of water that I have been standing in...
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:58 AM   #9
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


You should use only the screw terminals (or holes in the back where a screw is used to activate a clamp to hold the wire in). So if the push in connection won't hold any more then it's not a problem/

It is possible that when you get the wire end out, it is nicked in which case it is a good idea to snip it off and trim more insulation off to expose more bare wire.

If you have too many wires for the screws, cut a short length (pigtail) of the same color, wire nut this to the various wires in question, and then you only need one screw for the hots and one screw for the neutrals.

(In some cases two bundles with pigtails for raw hot and switched hot respectively going to top and bottom halves of a duplex receptacle where you snapped off the tab between the two gold screws.)
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:29 AM   #10
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


Get enough grip to get the wires out in 1-2 twist. This method shouldn't damage the push-ins but if by chance it does... You can typically fit 2 wires on one screw which leaves you with a back up. Be EXTRA careful to make neat connections!
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:55 AM   #11
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


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Ok, so if I twist and force the wires out, I am pretty much ruining those two push in connectors on the receptacle. I already did this once and it would not hold the wire again after I forced it out...
That is no problem for me because I never use those push-in connections, always use the [better connection] screws.

And I always install a new outlet.
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Old 03-27-2013, 12:04 PM   #12
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


The most widely accepted method of installation, and the most trouble free, is to wirenut a short length of wire to the two existing wires (do it both to the black and white), and then install the short tail to either a clamp type backwired receptacle or around the screw. This serves a couple of functions.

First, it maintains an "unbroken" circuit throughout the run. Second, it doesn't rely on the tiny tab between the screws to carry the remainder of the load downstream.

The simple shove-in backwired receptacles (which are the cheapest to purchase) have a propensity to cause issues later. The little sheet metal tab tends to loosen over time causing many threads on this board like "why are my lights dimming?" or "the whole wall just quit working. Why?"

Take the time to put them back correctly. You will never mess with them again.
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Old 03-27-2013, 12:26 PM   #13
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


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Get enough grip to get the wires out in 1-2 twist. This method shouldn't damage the push-ins but if by chance it does... You can typically fit 2 wires on one screw which leaves you with a back up. Be EXTRA careful to make neat connections!
Not allowed to have 2 wires on one screw!
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:19 PM   #14
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


Thanks for all the replies. I ended up just trying to force them out throught the twisting recommendations. The first attempt resulted in the wire breaking off in the receptacle. Some took longer than a few seconds but I eventually got them out. However, with the wire and insulation getting some damage in the process, I decided to quickly stop after the first one as I am concerned about shortening the wires even more if I have to cut and restrip them. I also may not even end up using some of these receptacles since we are going to be tearing down a couple walls and putting up another. I will have to re-evaulate and game plan so I am not doing work over top of work later on.

I am also concerned about some of the other handywork I am seeing on these receptables. For instance, on one, there are four ground wires twised together in rope like fashion with one wire going to the ground screw. That can't be within code I imagine. There are also four hot and neutral wires in this one receptacle and with all the wiring, I am thinking the standard receptacle box is maybe too small? This guy never got the basement remodel work permitted through the local county and they told us that upfront before we bought the house. I imagine some of these things are not going to fly with the inspector once we do try to get that permit.
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:31 PM   #15
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Best way to remove stuck wires from push-in connection


The grounds twisted together like that is code compliant, but like you said, 4 cables into a box could be too many.

Is their a crimp sleeve on the grounds?

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