I have a current outlet that has 4 hot wires connected to it 2 red and 2 black.

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Now I want to use a usb outlet that I bought. My idea was to simply wire nut the red hot wires and leave them in the electrical box and just backwire the black wires. I want to make sure if that is alright. I honestly do not know what to do with the extra red wires.

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  • 3
    The old outlet is on two circuits, top and bottom. The neutral(white) wires might be a problem, since the tab connecting then looks like it is broken off, maybe two different circuits that should not be connected together. Either the black or red can be connected together and the ones you use to power are pigtailled with a short wire to the outlet. One neutral probably should be isolated with a wire nut, but not sure how to prove which white goes with black or red. Might be important.
    – crip659
    Commented Jan 13 at 19:09
  • 1
    A picture showing the hot side of the outlet with the red and black wires in question may help better than the picture of the outlet showing the neutral side with the white wires. Also pictures showing the tabs on each side, per crip659's comment. Commented Jan 13 at 19:27
  • If the ground wire is the only wire spliced in the box then capping the reds together and both whites to the new receptacle will be acceptable. If there are more wires spliced in the box you will need to pull those out and shoot another picture. Commented Jan 13 at 19:46
  • With power on, carefully measure the voltage from the terminal with the red wires to the terminal with the black wires. Do you get 240V or 0V?
    – nobody
    Commented Jan 13 at 19:52
  • Is there a switch that controls this outlet, or half of it?
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 13 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


Zooming in on this, it looks like the tab for the neutrals is not broken. This could be multi wired branch circuit or a switched outlet. Turn off the power. Your new outlet has back clamps, not backstabs so the two black wires could go into the line side and the two white wires into the white/neutral side. In my humble opinion, a better way would be to pigtail a short piece of black wire to the two existing black ones and a short piece of white wire to the two existing white ones using wire nuts. Then connect the single pigtails to the outlet. Then just wire nut the two red wires together.

  • It’s probably just a half-switched receptacle situation. It’s a code violation currently if it’s an MWBC as neutral may not be device-spliced in an MWBC. There’s no way to be sure from just the photos but my money is on the former.
    – nobody
    Commented Jan 13 at 19:51
  • @nobody Great point. Edited it to cover both.
    – JACK
    Commented Jan 13 at 20:04

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