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Old 05-03-2009, 11:24 AM   #1
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


I'm in Maryland, replacing the builder-grade outlets and switches originally installed in new construction in 1994. The builder used VERY cheap outlets/switches, and used the "quick-connect" in the back; I've had a number partially melt, due to failing connections (presumably arcing) at the "quick-connects".

Question: "To pig-tail, or not; that is the question!". This question generally applies to "daisy-chained" outlets, where the circuit does not terminate at the outlet-box. Location: Montgomery County Maryland.

When I had an electrician replace an outlet & switch, he "pig-tailed" the incoming and outgoing Romex, with a 3rd wire inside the wire-nut which ran to the outlet/switch. Generally this was done for only "hot" and "neutral"; in general, the ground was already pig-tailed.

Personally, given the hefty copper between the terminals on the outlet/switch (I use Leviton pro-grade, in general), I think it is more electrically sound to connect the incoming/outgoing Romex directly to the outlet/switch, but I don't know what "The Code(tm)" has to say about this. Of course, if the box is being used as a junction-box (not just a simple daisy-chain) pigtailing would be needed.

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Old 05-03-2009, 11:36 AM   #2
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


Either way is compliant. The advantage to pig tailing is that if you have one receptacle go bad, the rest continue to work. If you daisy chain them and one goes bad the rest downstream will most likely go out too. Many electricians prefer to put three wires on a device instead of five. It's your choice.

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Old 05-03-2009, 12:04 PM   #3
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


go old school...pigtail.
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Old 05-03-2009, 12:11 PM   #4
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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I think it is more electrically sound to connect the incoming/outgoing Romex directly to the outlet/switch, but I don't know what "The Code(tm)" has to say about this.
Actually, when you think about it, a pigtail is more electrically sound (for receptacle circuits) in that it doesn't depend on the connections to the outlet for a continuous circuit run. It is like a T connection off of a straight line. Both are entirely acceptable, often chosen by preference. I too rather pigtail as I can better manipulate a receptacle with 3 wires connected than 5 and I also choose to plant the pigtail deep in the box before putting the outlet back in place.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:43 PM   #5
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


pigtailing also won't make a receptacle share the entire load downstream of it either.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:54 PM   #6
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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pigtailing also won't make a receptacle share the entire load downstream of it either.

Nor is this a problem.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:58 PM   #7
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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Nor is this a problem.
if it was a cheap back-stabbed receptacle it could be eventually.
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:49 PM   #8
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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if it was a cheap back-stabbed receptacle it could be eventually.
that method is UL approved also.
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:09 PM   #9
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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that method is UL approved also.
As are Zinsco and FPE Stab-Lok breakers.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:12 PM   #10
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


I find it preferable and easier to install pigtailed...
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:47 PM   #11
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


My vote is pigtail.
I always avoid using "quick-connect back-stab" terminals. Has anyone ever seen a good quick-connect back-stab connection?

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Old 05-05-2009, 01:00 AM   #12
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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As are Zinsco and FPE Stab-Lok breakers.
Yeah they only falsified their test results to get the UL listing.

I too prefer to pigtail on any and every outlet and I never use the back stabbed connections whether on a switch or outlet. And where a light box is also a junction box for other functions, I always pigtail longer lengths of wire to connect to the light fixture, whether or not it has its own wires attached; it just makes it a lot easier to connect a light fixture with one set of wires coming down out of the box than tieing into a bundle of 4 or 5 neutrals all tied together.
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:55 AM   #13
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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My vote is pigtail.
I always avoid using "quick-connect back-stab" terminals. Has anyone ever seen a good quick-connect back-stab connection?

FW
No but I have seen very good "backfed" connections and prefer to use them- These are tightened by the screw on the side of the receptacle- no twisting wire around a screw necessary.
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Old 05-05-2009, 10:23 AM   #14
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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No but I have seen very good "backfed" connections and prefer to use them- These are tightened by the screw on the side of the receptacle- no twisting wire around a screw necessary.
I will use the back-fed screw terminals if they are good. I have had problems with them on Leviton GFCI receptacles though. Just like anything else, there are good, and not so good.

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Old 05-05-2009, 10:37 AM   #15
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Replacing outlets: Pigtail, or don't pigtail?


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Originally Posted by handyman78 View Post
No but I have seen very good "backfed" connections and prefer to use them- These are tightened by the screw on the side of the receptacle- no twisting wire around a screw necessary.
I was going to say that too, but then I realized I was comparing apples and oranges here. A good tightened screw plate pressing down on a wire is inherently more secure (and contact made better) than a quick back stab connection.

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