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I am replacing some old switches in my moms house and I ran into a couple that have 3 sets of wires instead of two and I dont want to install the new plug incorrectly. I generally dont use the quick wire function but i was thinking of hooking two of the sets to the screws and the other set in one of the quick wire holes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.enter image description here

  • The top set of wires seem to be attached to the lights. The light switch is on the same wall. The top black wire isnt completely in the outlet and when I pull it out it turns the lights off and back on when pushed back in. – Anthony Perez Oct 16 '19 at 21:38

The wires are simply using the receptacle as a splice point. This would be the equivalent of the three wires joining in a splice with a fourth wire that comes out to the receptacle.

Now, when extracting thes wires from the old receptacle, grab onto one wire firmly and twist back and forth about 45 degrees while pulling very firmly. The wire will walk out of the backstab. It may help to jab a release slot, if there is one, but I find them unreliable (as I do backstabs generally). Once a wire is extracted from a backstab, the device is scrap.)

Never cut wires, because wire length is precious. You need 3" beyond the surface of the wall, or you must replace the entire cable run. You don't have length to spare here.

The two best ways to handle this are.

Screw-to-clamp receptacle

Go back to the store and get a Leviton commercial style receptacle, or competitor, which has a "Screw-to-clamp" attachment method. In this, each screw has 2 back-wire holes directly beneath it. The wires can go into those holes, but they won't grab. You tighten the screw very firmly to clamp the wires. There are 2 wire holes under each screw, so it can accommodate four per side.


This will require some short lengths of wire, and either red wire nuts or some lever-action splice connectors with four voids.

You connect the three wires together with about an 8 inch long pigtail wire. Attach the wire to the side of the receptacle.

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  • I added a picture of the outlet that I currently have. Will these work? – Anthony Perez Oct 16 '19 at 22:01
  • @AnthonyPerez, those will work with the Pigtail method Harper mentions, but they're not the screw-to-clamp type, no. – Nate S. Oct 16 '19 at 22:04
  • Okay I will have to go to the store then. Thanks guys. – Anthony Perez Oct 16 '19 at 22:06
  • @AnthonyPerez, this page shows the differences, so you know what to look for: handymanhowto.com/electrical-outlets-side-wire-versus-back-wire – Nate S. Oct 16 '19 at 22:08
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    @AnthonyPerez no, and the giveaway is the backstab hole, see how there is only one per screw not two, and it is NOT in line with the screw? . An outlet would never have both screw-to-clamp and backstabs. This one is made for normal J-hook screw connections. Expect to pay about $2.50 for a screw-to-clamp, but they are also much more competently built outlets. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '19 at 22:16

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