I am replacing a receptacle (15A) and it has three hot and 3 neutral wires. Previously two backstab plus one screw were used on each side. I won't be using the backstabs on the replacement receptacle.

My question is: Do I have to use all four hot and neutral screws or can I simply pigtail all three hot and connect to a single hot screw? I'd do the same for the neutral side.

In this configuration I'd have only three leads going to the receptacle (including ground) instead of 7.

  • It would depend on the size of the box (total wire fill) You may be able to add an extension to the box but this sounds like a 2x4 outlet so the total wire fill and device would be larger than the the box is rated for. I will pig tail every time and NOT use back stabs but the total cubic inch size of the box will tell if this is close to legal or not.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 4, 2016 at 0:12
  • Yeah, it's a 2x4 box... Was pretty tight to begin with. I may go and get a receptacle that I can back wire... So pigtailing the hot and neutrals to one screw each is a valid approach?
    – Eric
    Jul 4, 2016 at 0:17
  • The box fill is based on the device and the wires in the box even with a deep 2x4 I am sure you need more space a box extension won't work with a in wall 2x4 but you could upgrade to a 4x4 old work box with a mud ring, this will require a bit of cutting and some Sheetrock mud to cover but then it could be legal. Some 2x4 or single gang boxes are able to be joined together making a double gang but then a blank plate would be required and mud similar to a 4x4 with a mud ring.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 4, 2016 at 1:29

1 Answer 1


Use pigtailing here -- the Code doesn't charge for pigtails in the Article 314 box fill accounting. However, by Article 314, your box is already overflowing -- so put an extension ring/box on it while you are at it. (You need to get the box's rated volume up to 18 in^3 to fit everything in, or 20 in^3 with internal clamps)


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