I removed this screw from toggle switch and can't put back in. It just won't go back in. Is it possible to put it back or I was not supposed to take it out completely?

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  • 2
    Theoretically, since this is wired using the "backstabs", the screw on the side isn't necessary at all. HOWEVER, the "backstab" is prone to failure, and it's highly recommended that they be avoided. Follow the advice in the answers below to replace (or, possibly, reinsert the screw) and use the screw to hold the wire in place instead of the backstab.
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 14:30

4 Answers 4


The screw is given a burr to discourage removing it completely. This can mess up the threads when it is removed. You can recover the threads with a tap and die, but for the cost of a new SPST switch it's probably not worth the risk. That said, often the threads aren't too badly damaged and you can put it back together by filing the tip of the screw and then being careful to screw it in straight.


It was supposed to be captive. The safest thing is to replace the switch. They are typically $ 1 - $ 3, depending on quality and where you buy them.

If the new switch has "back stab" connections, as it appears your existing switch has, don't use them. Use the screws.

  • 7
    I'm really liking the clamp style outlets and switches. They look like back-stabs but aren't. You don't have to mess with a shepherds hook, which some newbies might have difficulty with. You just stick the straight, stripped wire under the clamp and tighten it down. Commented May 13, 2021 at 0:56
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    I think "don't use back stabs" is probably the single most frequently given piece of advice on this entire site. Not that that detracts from its validity, just surprising how often it's repeated... Commented May 13, 2021 at 16:43
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    @DarrelHoffman I’ve noticed that too. I have never used the “back stabs” (opting for the screws instead), but I have removed a fair share of receptacles that were installed using the back stab method and have never seen an issue with that method.
    – ARich
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 17:45
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    @ARich backstabs are objectively adequately reliable, or they wouldn't be allowed in the north american market. They are also objectively quite inferior to a properly done up clamp or screw because they may necessitate shortening wire, and despite their connection being adequate, it still has less surface area and is less secure. To actually find out if you have a problem with a backstab, you have to very heavily load the socket, and it will probably be fine. Probably.
    – K H
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 2:02
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    The one problem-requiring-replacement with a backstab I've seen out of the hundreds I've removed was because the wire had not been straightened before being pushed into the backstab. It made a poor connection and and produced some cosmetic heat damage. That said, screw and or clamp is far superior, so why risk a backstab just to save 20 seconds, when you'll lose those 20 seconds again if you ever have to remove the wire without damaging it. One time I intentionally used backstabs, it saved me a marrette and allowed us to make box fill without chipping out a box already poured into concrete.
    – K H
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 2:06

I've inadvertently (or vertently) removed those screws many times. With a little force they'll go back in, just like they did at the factory. If you're then able to adequately tighten the screw onto the wire loop, all good. If not, replace the device.


Honestly, just replace it. Switches don't last forever and the cost of a new one is negligible. I'd buy one of the nicer "side stab" (Leviton calls these "preferred" and the side stab part "side wiring") where you put the wire under a metal plate and tighten it (i.e. no shepherd's hook). These are less than $2 brand new. And your switch won't look yellowed anymore.

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