enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereHow do you remove a wire from a push-in fitting when there is no release opening?

Note: “What could cause two of my receptacles to stop working?” is my post.

Note: My home is a 1980 manufactured home. It had junk plumbing (I have replaced the plumbing) and it has a junk electrical system.

I wanted to practice on an old receptacle by replacing the receptacle with an up-to-date receptacle that has screw terminals. When I looked at the old receptacle I saw that it had push-in fittings, but no release openings to remove the wires (two white, two black) from the push-in fittings.

So, how do I remove the wires?

I see four ways:

  1. Cut the wires. I would cut the wires as close to the push-in fitting as possible.

  2. By using brute force pull the wires from the fitting. Is this even possible?

  3. Use a Dermal rotary tool to cut-up the receptacle being careful to not harm the wires. I see no reason to save the junk receptacle.

  4. Some other method.

Any help you can give me with this problem would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

  • If you could post some pictures, one of the brain trust here may recognize another less obvious way to release the wires (ie, equivalent to the hole you expect, but done less obviously).
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 3 '14 at 18:35
  • Ecnerwal, thank you for your comment. I will send a picture. I will need time because this will be the first time I have posted a picture to this site. I have sent pictures to other sites will little or no problem.
    – user20786
    Apr 3 '14 at 19:32
  • I agree that using a rotary tool would be a real pain. There is an opening on the side, but hard to tell if it is there to release the wires. The picture that I am sending should help to tell what the opening is there for. I wanted to practice on a good old receptacle before working on the bad “computer” receptacle. With the new development of no obvious release opening I may want to practice on the bad “computer” receptacle. The computer receptacle is a known quantity, while the old receptacle is O.K. and working on it may make it not O.K (bad things happening downstream).
    – user20786
    Apr 3 '14 at 19:32
  • The reason for wanting to practice on a good old receptacle is that the “computer” receptacle is hard to get to. The receptacle is under the computer table (actually, a dining room table). To work on the receptacle I will have to disconnect 20+ devices and move a ton of stuff. After all this I would have to move the table away from the wall. The table is located in a small kitchen nook—small nook, big table. So, not much work room.
    – user20786
    Apr 3 '14 at 19:33
  • 1
    The side slots are supposed to release the two wires immediately above by pushing in with a small screwdriver. For some reason these release mechanisms do not always work that well. If they do not seem to work, cutting the wire or crushing the outlet is the best options. When using binding posts, there should be metal on both sides of the wire. It's OK to have wire under the screw head only, but some devices do have a clamping plate, in which case there will be another metal base below that.
    – bcworkz
    Apr 4 '14 at 20:04

Unless the wires are way too short, just cut them off - it's not worth wasting your time for 1/2" of wire. You can use wirenuts and add a pigtail if you need more wire. If the wires are way too short, and the circuit is dead, put on safety glasses and use a hammer or locking pliers or a bolt cutter to smash the crap receptacle and release your wires quickly. Life is way too short to fuss with a rotary tool cutting them open.

  • 1
    When I replaced the outlets in my 1980's era house, I found that the plastic was so brittle that even though the outlets had the hole for a release pin, more often than not, the plastic broke apart when I tried to release the wires. I started off just wanting to replace a few outlets that were cracked on the front, but ended up replacing all of the outlets and switches in the house when I discovered how easily they broke. By then end, I was just crushing the outlets with pliers since it was faster and easier than releasing the wires the "right" way.
    – Johnny
    Apr 3 '14 at 19:04
  • I was thinking that crushing the outlet would be another option, also. Thanks Johnny!!!!
    – user20786
    Apr 3 '14 at 19:31
  • 1
    @user20786 - I used a big pair of channel lock pliers , but as Ecnerwal suggests, locking pliers would work well and might give you more leverage.
    – Johnny
    Apr 3 '14 at 19:39

Aren't those slots on the side the release points?

I had similar receptacles (it's been some years, so my memory is fuzzy) and I recall being able to push a screwdriver into the slot to make the wires release.

enter image description here


If you twist the outlet back and forth while pulling on the wire, usually the wire will walk itself off. However, you should not re-use the wires you remove in such a manner as they will be scratched and scarred.

With that in mind, just cut them flush with the outlet and strip the wire fresh.

  • Thank you for all of your comments. As of now my best bet is to cut the wires. The next best thing is to crush the receptacle (use eye protection and use the “correct” pliers) without damaging the wires. Or, when you’ll see the picture you may be able to tell me how to remove the wires the “easy” way.
    – user20786
    Apr 3 '14 at 21:27
  • 2
    To a large extent the "correct" pliers are a matter of what you have that works. Locking pliers (ViseGrips(tm) and knockoffs of same) are somewhat more common in many households than a set of ChannelLocks(tm) big enough to make the crushing go easily. Use what you have, don't go buy something special for the job...use two rocks if need be.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 4 '14 at 1:17

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