My wife an I bought a house built in 1981 located in Lake County California.

I've been switching out receptacles and switches and found some "interesting" wiring. Now, these all look like "as built" items, not where the new owner hacked in a new circuit.

First: Stripping the middle of a wire to avoid a pig tail: Several 2 gang outlets are wired like this. The hot and common wires run to the first outlet, where a section of insulation is removed from the middle of the wire. This is then wrapped around the screw terminal and the rest of the run is attached to the second outlet. (Sometimes the screw terminal, sometimes the stab connector.)

Second: Using an outlet/switch as a splice junction. Here was another odd one. The switch is wired normally, but a hot and neutral running to the next box in line is not pig tailed, but taken off the stab connectors on the switch. In another, the two gang box with double outlets are wired as above, except a next in line circuit is taken off the stab connector on the first outlet. (And, to make it extra weird, the common is pig tailed.)

As I am going through, I am correcting these with proper pig tails, but can't help wondering how it ever passed inspection.


  • I used one pigtail on three switches in a 3-gang switch box and it passed inspection. (I pointed it out to the inspector myself.) The use of the backstab to continue on to another box would presumably have passed iinspection, and only later became clear that the spring backstab connections were failing at an unacceptable rate. Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


There is nothing wrong with striping a wire in a box and attaching it under a screw then feeding a second outlet. I don't do it but have seen it done quite often it saves a few cents for the installer but makes updates tougher. If the circuit is a multi wire branch circuit this would require the neutrals to be pigtailed and that may be why they are pigtails.

  • 1
    To also answer your second question: there's nothing wrong with using a switch or outlet as a junction. Many here frown on using the back-stab connections at all but using them and/or the additional screws on a duplex outlet are allowed by code and done frequently.
    – DoxyLover
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 23:43
  • Thanks, this helps a lot. (The more you know...) Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 23:36

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