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I have a single pole Decora light switch in my upstairs hallway that controls our attic light. I replaced the old switch (a single pole toggle, we are new owners of the home), and want some confirmation that my setup is correct.

There are 4 total wires in the box - 3 black wires, and the ground wire. I've been able to identify all 3 of the black wires:

  • Hot wire
  • Line wire (powering the attic light)
  • Load wire (providing power to the light switch on the other side of the wall)

In my setup, I backstabbed both the hot wire and the load wire under the top terminal screw plate, and wrapped the line wire underneath the bottom terminal screw, and screwed that down. Ground wire is screwed down on the ground screw as well, just so we're clear.

The attic light works as it should with the switch, and power to the other side of the wall is being supplied to that light switch.

Essentially, I just want clarification that my setup is correct and I'm good to go. I've been pretty good with finding direct answers to some electrical questions, but this one hasn't been so easy.

enter image description here

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  • "4 total wires in the box - 3 black wires, and the ground wire." is unclear as the picture has a white wire - likely a neutral not needed in the switch - yet still deserve enumeration. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 19:54

2 Answers 2

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You really can't mess this up. Either the correct wire is switched or it isn't. If you had it wrong one or both lights wouldn't work.

You do have some terminology confused, though. "Line" and "hot" are more or less synonymous, though "line" implies the incoming lead. You have:

  • Line (incoming) hot
  • Load (downstream) hot
  • Switched hot

As long as the switched hot is on the far side of the switch you're all good. I'm not sure why you didn't use the clamp for the single wire, though. It's an easier and higher-quality method.

That's not "backstabbing", by the way. That's just screw clamping. Backstabs are holes with spring tabs inside. Backstabbing is very bad. Screw clamping is very good, and screw clamping is easier than making a proper hook for a traditional screw connection.

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    IMO, that bottom screw connection looks really flaky, like it could pop out with the slightest nudge. It should be clamped like the one above. The fact that there's only one wire shouldn't matter at all
    – SiHa
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 11:14
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    The wire under all screws exits at some point--the fact that it bends there isn't an indication of a problem--and we can't see how far the loop wraps. It's probably find if the screw is snug.
    – isherwood
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 12:47
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    If the OP used the clamp for the upper screw, why not also the lower screw? (Also, is it just me, or does the area around the top clamp look...a bit melty?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 13:42
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    Thanks. I've gone ahead and done two things related to this post: 1) changed out the outlet (I believe the "melty" aspect you are referring was just scratching/wear and tear from trying to screw this on in the first place and 2) screw-clamped the bottom screw as well. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 19:43
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The insulation for the bottom wire is touching the conductor. This isn't up to code in some places. Re-strip that wire so that the insulation starts over the blue plastic, and the wire wraps around the screw.

Ensure the wire is securely underneath the screw if you are using this method. The red curve shows the area where stripped wire should be located, and the red circle shows where the insulation should not be touching the conductor.

Outlet Image with Circled Area and Wire Example

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  • Yes, only bare copper should be touching the parts that conduct electricity. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 22:55
  • Don't tell me down here. Revise your answer to be more clear about that.
    – isherwood
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 14:17
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    Thanks. I've gone ahead and done two things related to this post: 1) changed out the outlet (I believe the "melty" aspect you are referring was just scratching/wear and tear from trying to screw this on in the first place and 2) screw-clamped the bottom screw as well. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 19:44

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