A number of years ago I had our electrician change all of our quick wired/back stabbed outlets in our new home to the screw terminals for better and safer connections.

Recently I discovered he didn’t bother to remove them completely but rather cut them as close to the openings in the back as possible before moving the wires to the screws.

I’m a bit concerned given these wire stubs would technically still be live and may have the same arcing/connection issues as before since they will cool and heat along with the other internal components of the outlet.

Is this not the case? Am I over thinking this?

Any thoughts appreciated.

Link to full size image

enter image description here

  • 1
    What a waste of wire length. Normally I twist and rend them out of the backstabs. Wires must be 6" long from where they leave the sheath to the ends. In smaller boxes they must also stick out 3" beyond the wall surface. If you had proper length before and now you don't, that's on the electrician! Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 0:10
  • 1
    Wow. I would never hire that electrician again. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 6:21
  • 1
    Most backstabs have releases some don’t but I agree with ecnerwal it’s sloppy but no more dangerous than the live conductors on the side.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


A sloppy job, but you're overthinking it.

Having been cut, no current is flowing through the backstab, so no heating, no arcing, no problem other than if you handle the outlet while the circuit breaker is on and fail to respect the short stubby live wires poking out the back. Since it's generally inadvisable to play with receptacles out of their box with the circuit breaker on, not usually a problem.

  • 4
    Well, they might make contact with a ground wire and cause you some trouble. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 0:11
  • There is the very slight chance of the bare ground wire shorting the circuit though. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 0:11
  • 4
    Not really much more chance than that the bare ground would contact the overly long stripped hot on the side-screw. There's a good deal more length exposed there, at least on the pictured outlet.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 0:12

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