We just bought a house and saw a room that used to have half hot wired for all the outlets. It was converted over so both plugs of the outlet are hot all the time. However, the way it was wired, there are two hot wires going into each of the outlets. This is fine because the tabs are removed between the outlets. However, there is one outlet where the tab is not removed (pictured) -- probably a recently replaced outlet where they forgot to remove the tab. Neutral tab also not broken. Neutrals continue on to other outlets.

I removed the tab but I still have two questions:

  • Is this dangerous?
  • Does this mean there is 220 volts to this outlet if the tab is not removed?


enter image description here

  • Is the tab removed on the neutral side of this outlet? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 30 '17 at 22:49
  • @ThreePhaseEel no it is not – masedesign Mar 30 '17 at 22:49
  • Say wot? Why are there neutrals going in two different directions? Did the old switched-outlet switch the neutral? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 30 '17 at 22:49
  • @Harper the neutrals continue on to the other outlets in the room where the tabs are removed on both sides. I tried to make the diagram simple. – masedesign Mar 30 '17 at 22:51
  • So there are two neutrals and one hot going on to the other outlets in the room? Can we have a photo of the inside of the box in question, even? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 30 '17 at 22:51

Remove the tab in the center receptacle and you should be all set. Or you could just remove the red pigtail from that receptacle and also, you'd be all set.

The problem right now is that you have a redundant current path on the hot side. The red wire is spliced to the black wire, so they are from the same circuit and in the same potential (i.e. in the same phase). If they were from different circuits, this situation would be a lot worse. Eliminate the redundant path and you're good.

  • Thanks, Harper - I did do that but I want to know if this was unsafe to begin with? What are the side effects/risks of this original setup? – masedesign Mar 30 '17 at 23:08
  • You have current potentailly taking two different paths, which can cause some funny electrical effects. Worse, you have a setup that is very non-intuitive to electricians. Electricians don't go over all your wiring with a fine tooth comb; they assume everything else is correct. If you wanted more capacity at those outlets, they might bring a /3 from the panel and punch that down as a multi-wire branch circuit, red to L1 and black to L2, sharing neutral, presuming the downstream work was done correctly. At that point BOOM. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 30 '17 at 23:10
  • Great thanks - I found another room where this is the case in some replaced outlets as well..is this an emergency to find all of these and remove the tabs? What's the problem with leaving it as is temporarily? – masedesign Mar 31 '17 at 0:11
  • 1
    @masedesign Not an emergency, it's more of a time-bomb that could explode later. Don't let it slip your mind. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 31 '17 at 0:29

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