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Sorry, I don't know much about electrical, so my terminology is off.

I have this double wall plug that I want to split into two separate ones. I thought that the two pairs of wires just run current to their respective sockets. But I tried to disconnect those and then connect to two single ones and not only it didn't work, but half of other plugs in the room stopped working. So it's clearly a bit more sophisticated than I thought.

Unfortunately, due to how studs are located (existing wall with sheets already on), I won't be able to move the two separately or even run additional wires.

Is there a way to somehow split it in two without additional wiring?

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  • Where on this planet are you? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 13 '17 at 0:24
  • In the US, PNW. – Nikita G. Mar 13 '17 at 0:35
  • Are you asking if it's possible to split the sockets, i.e., make one of them switched somehow? Or add another socket? – Kevin McKenzie Mar 13 '17 at 0:39
  • I want to add another one using the same wires. – Nikita G. Mar 13 '17 at 0:44
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    @NikitaG. There is no stud in your photo. if you can not run new wires to the new box/outlet how are you going to accomplish putting it "a couple of studs" over. You need to edit you question to include all the pertinent info (very detailed explanation) and describe exactly what you are trying to accomplish – Alaska Man Mar 13 '17 at 3:28
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You may notice metal tabs between the top and bottom screw on each side of the outlet. These short the top and bottom outlets together. One set of black/white wires provide power to both outlets while the other set of wires continues on to other outlets. This why, when you disconnected the second set of wires, other outlets stopped working. The original installer used the outlet itself as a jumper between the sets of wires.

In cases where the two outlets are powered separately (usually when one is controlled by a switch), these tabs are broken off to isolate the two outlets.

If you want to split the feed to a new outlet, one way would be to connect the new wires to the screws on the outlet. This way, the outlet acts as a jumper between all three sets.

However, I'd note that while the "back-stab" connections to the outlet are legal, many electricians here do not use them and do not trust them. The better way would be to remove the wires from the back-stabs and connect the two black wires, together with the new black wire and a short length of wire (a pig-tail) using a properly sized wire-nut. Then connect the pig-tail to the outlet screw. Do the same for the white wires.

Finally, I need to point out that working with mains voltage is very dangerous. You've already admitted that you have limited knowledge of the field. The voltage you're working with can easily kill you. Also, not connecting the wires well could cause a bad connection that could later heat up and cause a fire! I highly recommend you find an electrician or so least and experienced handyman to do the work!

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