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I thought this was going to be an easy swap but my old outlet has 6 wires vs 4 wires on my new one. Can I still use this new outlet?

New outlet and old, wired outlet

Closeup of old, wired outlet
click to embiggen images

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  • Holy backstabs, Batman! Good thing you took a picture before dismantling the old wiring! +1 for that alone. If none of those brass tabs are broken then it should be a fairly simple swap out. The outlet is basically being used as a junction.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 15:41

3 Answers 3

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Sure. Clearest/simplest way is to wirenut the 3 blacks and a short black, the 3 whites and a short white, and connect the free ends of the short wires ("pigtails") to the new device. Use the screws, not the backstabs (says decades of dubious experiences with backstabs...)

That is only the case because this appears to be a straightforwardly wired receptacle with nothing "funky" going on (does not appear to be half-switched, all the blacks are on the hot side, all the whites are on the neutral side, etc.)

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  • Thanks! I will try this. Technically could I use the 3 black wires into 2 screws and use one of the backstabs? Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 19:29
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    See this recent question for one mild illustration of why we strongly suggest not using those. diy.stackexchange.com/q/238318/18078 It's not difficult to find examples of outlets that have actually melted or caught fire. Just Don't use those. Get the screw clamp kind if you want to back-wire. Houses are expensive things to burn.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 14:14
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    @getrichordiediying Technically, yes... it depends on whether you're biased towards the "get rich" part of your name or the "die trying". Backstabs are good way to put you on the path to "die trying".
    – J...
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 17:01
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    @J... subtle note, it's actually "dye diying"
    – psaxton
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 19:39
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    @psaxton Hah, just noticed that. Actually "die DIYing", but in any case, yeah, backstabs will also put you on the path to "die DIYing"... or at least as a result of it!
    – J...
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 19:45
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Your new outlet will work just fine. You'll have to remove the three black wires from the old outlet and wire nut them together with an additional 6" piece of black wire. Remove the three white wires from the old outlet and wire nut, pigtail, them together with an additional 6" piece of white wire. Take the additional black wire and hook it around one of the brass screws and tighten. Take the additional white wire and hook it around one of the silver screws and tighten.

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  • Thanks for the detailed steps. Alternatively, could I use the 3 black wires into 2 screws and use one of the push-ins/backstabs? Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 19:30
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    @getrichordiediying I can't condone using backstabs. I have removed so many that have failed in service. Plus, I'd get crucified here if i did... lol
    – JACK
    Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 19:38
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    @getrichordiediying if you spend an extra dollar or two and get the "commercial grade" outlets, you get a side clamp. That gives you 4 holes into which you can stick a straight wire, then tighten them down, 2 at a time, with screws. These aren't "backstabs" (as in your old outlet) because they screw down and there isn't a spring to get loose, but you get the simplicity of not having to do the pig-tail and bend a shepherd's hook. Kinda the best of both worlds, and in my DIY opinion well worth the extra money.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 22:52
  • @FreeMan – does a commercial grade one look like the old one that I'm trying to replace – it has the 4 holes? The old one is very lose and doesn't hold the plugs in that's why I'm replacing it. Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 4:20
  • @getrichordiediying They come in "standard" (with the two oval shaped receptacles) or "decora" with the one large rectangular opening on the front. On the back, there are two screws on each side -brass for hot, silver for neutral - each screw can accept 2 wires. You can use it as a "terminal block" and directly connect up to 4 wires to each side. In that respect, then yes, I guess you'd say it "looks like" your old one. From the front side it looks like a receptacle - it doesn't look "industrial" or anything...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 11:49
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Use a "spec grade" receptacle ($3, comes in a box instead of loose). They accept 4 wires per side.

Those have a feature, informally called "Screw-and-clamp", in which the wires insert in the back, but you tighten the screws to clamp them. That supports 2 wires under each screw.

This feature is also found on any GFCI receptacle.

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    In addition to avoiding the problematic backstab, the other benefit of the pricier outlets is they have better plug connections inside, meaning you probably won't have to replace it again anytime soon.
    – Machavity
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 14:20

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