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I broke the tab off my electrical outlet connecting the two hot wires, and then realized that this was unnecessary. Is it a bad idea to solder the brass tab back and still use the outlet? Soldered Outlet

  • It looks OK in that it doesn't protrude out the side. But stripping extra insulation and 1/2 loop around both screws in the same path would have been the acceptable solution. – Tony Stewart Sunnyskyguy EE75 Jan 13 '18 at 1:41
  • That solder joint (butt joint, no overlap) is not acceptable. Remove the tab, run continuous wire under both screws, and it's fine. – Whit3rd Jan 13 '18 at 2:07
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    Buy a new outlet they are $2.00 at the Big Box Hardware stores. The solder will last for a period of time AND it is possible over time to become what is known as a 'cold' solder joint - when that happens arcing can occur. Is this against code - to my recollection I don't think code addresses the issue directly. Spend the $2 it will correct and there will be no question about whether the solder joint becomes cold over time. – Ken Jan 13 '18 at 2:59
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    @Ken a joint doesn't become cold over time. It's either cold when you solder it, or it's not. Afaik. – cde Jan 13 '18 at 4:00
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    Solder only connection is a code violation. Get a new outlet a cheap builders grade under 2$ a nice spec grade 5-7$. – Ed Beal Jan 26 '18 at 19:11
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Into the trash goes this 75 cent outlet

It was wrecked by removing the screws and soldering the tab.

Soldering like that to alter a device is not a proper wiring method and is not safe. Solder does not conduct as well as copper, and melts much sooner. Edit: Here's a link that shows solder has 9x the resistance: copper 0.0168, solder 0.145. As soldered it has no chance of carrying the required current. Keep the solder in the electronics lab.

If you hadn't also pulled the screws out, I would say just unsolder the tab (you're not allowed to modify devices like this) and put 2 pigtails on the 2 screws. You join those with a wirenut to the two wires you would have otherwise attached to those two screws.

However since you've also torn the screws out, I would say toss the receptacle in the trash. They cost 60 cents, or $3 for the really good ones.

Those screws are captive, meaning when they are most of the way out, they get really stiff. You're supposed to stop turning at that point. That is a detent designed to keep the screws attached for your installation convenience. Pulling them out damages their threads. If the receptacle has features like screw-clamp, removing the screws "loses" the clamps and ruins the receptacle.

So now you know in the future: anytime you're loosening a screw and it gets weirdly stiff most of the way out, that is a mechanism trying to keep the screw captured. Don't do a "gorilla act" on it.

  • just a FYI: solder in today's world is made of silver and that is a better conductor than copper. The outlet in question - less than $2 buy a new one is the best answer - pig tailing and wire nutting adds another set of wires and a wire nut - I am guessing space requirements in the receptacle box still apply. Of course he could claim he repaired the device and did not modify it. This is a spend $100 to save $1 question. So your point about buying a new one and being done with it should probably be in BOLD .. your other comments are good information +. – Ken Jan 13 '18 at 3:09
  • @Ken There is no silver in solder commonly used in electronics. Silver solder is a specialty item. – Barry Jan 13 '18 at 4:04
  • @Harper - I'm with you. Consider the labor. Labor is time and time is money. How much would it cost to replace a device that will work perfectly or repair a device that might work for a short time. In short, unless there is a specific need to repair a device, just replace it. – Retired Master Electrician Jan 13 '18 at 14:44
  • @Barry in today's world it is not difficult to find. RoHS compliant products have pushed this, along with the growing tentacle issues with Tin - silver solder is easily available ( however it is combined with other materials - such as tin so quality varies) . amazon.com/TrakPower-Rosin-Silver-Solder-ounces/dp/B007KN0FD2 – Ken Jan 13 '18 at 23:30
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    @Ken I just found a link that reports solder is 9x worse a conductor than copper. Silver solder isn't really silver, it's like 3% silver. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 26 '18 at 17:11
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Don't solder it. Just use an extra wire between the two sections, preferably through an appropriately sized twist on cap. While solder may work, your introducing it in a way that will likely void your home insurance policy if a fire starts.

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    For insurance it would probably be best to replace it... – Solar Mike Jan 13 '18 at 0:33
  • @solar why? Nothing about using a wire to tie two independent outlets together would go against standard practices. – cde Jan 13 '18 at 1:00
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    There is nothing wrong with connection the two outlets with standard wiring, but since the image posted in the question shows the outlet has already been soldered, it is best to throw it away and replace it. Any electrician who happens to see that would be justified in saying that an unqualified person has been tampering with the wiring. – Charles Cowie Jan 13 '18 at 1:30
  • @Ryan Hackney In case of a fire the inspectors search the ashes. Their job is to find all possible excuses to reject the payment. If the house isn't totally yours, the other owners do not thank you if an electrician happens to find your solderings and reports of their existence so that the other owners see you have already kept the insurance cancelled an undefined time. – user287001 Jan 13 '18 at 1:48
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    They are also as cheap as dirt.. why bother messing around with it. lowes.ca/electrical-outlets/… – Trevor_G Jan 13 '18 at 2:02
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Looks neat and reliable but not kosher to inspectors.

I did the same thing, once in my 1st rec. room 30 yrs ago until I realized they used these for wall switched light fixtures outlets.

enter image description here

The dimples retain the wire from getting squeezed away from under the screw.

Someone handy with a needlenose can do an insulation strip in 2 sections on the same wire.

  • $2 buys a new one.. no questions, no worries ..cold solder joints can be very bad and do happen over time. Captive screws do not fall out either.. – Ken Jan 13 '18 at 3:11

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