Connections To The Back Of A Switch - Electrical - Contractor Talk

Connections To The Back Of A Switch

 
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Old 11-14-2006, 09:48 AM   #1
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Connections To The Back Of A Switch


I was trying to trouble shoot a light circuit recently (4 high intensity gym lights). Voltage into the switch and voltage out of the switch-I concluded it wasn't the switches fault and called an electrician in. The electrician quickly found the switch was at fault; when he jiggled the swtich, the wires pressed into the back of the switch arced and the lights came on. Is this type of mount called something like compression fittings? The electrician I asked said they never use this type of connection, they'll use the screws to attach the wire.

Is it more common to use the screws or to press the wire into the back of the switch? I'm not sure of the current draw, the lights could be in the 300w (not sure though) range each for a total of 1200 watts which is 10A-is there a limitation on current draw for use of the press in connection?

thanks for sharing your knowledge.
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Old 11-14-2006, 10:08 AM   #2
 
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


Backstabbing is a guaranteed way to have a return call, although some swear by it.
Backstabbing wiring methods are supposed to be the same as screw terminal connections, however I have found over the years vibration effects backstabbing more than screw terminal connections.
On receptacles, the use of the outlet by inserting and removing plugs, has a tendency to loosen the backstabbed wire, especially if the receptacle is not secure in the wall.
10 Amps on a switch is not excessive. I would replace the switch with a commercial duty switch, and wrap the wires around the screws unless it is a spec grade switch. The insert the wire into the back slot and tighten the screw.

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Old 11-14-2006, 12:51 PM   #3
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


Since moving into my new house (8 years old) in May of 2005 I have replaced many of the light swiches with dimmers. All of them were back stabbed and about 30% were cracked and arching. It appears that all of my wiring is 12 guage and I think with the combination of stiffer wire and the back stabbing many of the switches cracked while being pushed into the boxes during install. Just about every new house I have had the opprotunity to see being built in the last several years has been wired with the back stab method. I have never heard an electrician admit that they back stab so who are these mystery back stabbers out there?

Rob
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Old 11-14-2006, 01:17 PM   #4
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


It's a simple rule.....I think most of us know it.....It goes kind of like this.

If your going to backstabb....better just count on getting stabbed back.

Bob
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Old 11-14-2006, 03:02 PM   #5
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by Glasshousebltr View Post

If your going to backstabb....better just count on getting stabbed back.

Bob
that's a riot Bob!

Do you suppose if the installers used 14gauge it would have been less prone to failure?

I ripped out a commercial site awhile ago and pulled alot of wiing out-most was screws in place but a few were backstabbed. The location was used for hospital use and had many gfi's-one of which had caught fire many years ago. Are gfi's more typically connected via backstabbing?
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Old 11-14-2006, 03:34 PM   #6
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


I think in the case of my house if they had used 14 vs 12 wire that less of the switches would have cracked. I'm happy to have all 12 guage wire but it would have been nice if the electricians who wired my house could have been more careful after back stabbing the switches and then trying to shove them into the boxes.

Again who are these mystery electricians who back stab? This seems like such an obvious no no that I can't believe that it's allowed in the NEC.
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Old 11-14-2006, 03:36 PM   #7
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


I believe they reduced the size of the back-stab holes several years ago so it will only work with #14 wire.
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Old 11-14-2006, 04:50 PM   #8
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by 72chevy4x4 View Post
Are gfi's more typically connected via backstabbing?
I've never seen a GFCI receptacle with backstabbing provisions. Most all of them, however, are arranged to be backwired. Backwiring is fine, as you insert the conductor in a hole, and bind the screw down. This presses the conductor between two plates inside the device. It does not rely on a little 'tooth' like backstabbing does. Backwiring is a little trickier with solid conductors, but it is the preferred method for termination of stranded conductors.
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Old 11-14-2006, 04:53 PM   #9
 
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


NEVER backstab!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-14-2006, 06:51 PM   #10
 
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


You guys crack me up. Backstabbing is a UL listed method of wiring devices, I've stabbed 100,000+ devices and never experienced a problem.

In my 30+ years of experience in the electrical trade, I've found it's the side wired deivices that are the primary source of service calls. I wire houses at $2.75 a foot and at that price point, we don't side wire. If I catch any of my guys sidewiring or doing anything else unprofessional, they're fired.

Not only do I use the Profit Holes in the back of devices, I don't waste my precious time making pigtails.

The Construction Business: It's a money thing.

Whoop! Whoop!
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Old 11-14-2006, 06:58 PM   #11
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


On the same subject, the company I'm with recently switched over to these things called "wago's" (ever heard of 'em), same principle. I just wonder how long till they fail.

I suppose a lot of it has to do with how you tuck your wires into the box.
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Old 11-14-2006, 07:02 PM   #12
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


I use Wago's when old conductors are too short to properly install a wire nut. Other than that, I still use B-Caps. I suspect that the next generation of electricians will all use Wago's. I'm an "old-timer" so to speak. Consider me like one of the guys who were still twisting and soldering in the 60's, when wire nuts had been more common for 10-15 years. There's always a technology overlap, and I believe that is a good thing.

Plan 9.... how do you get away with not pigtailing when you have 3 romexes in a box?????????
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Old 11-14-2006, 07:16 PM   #13
 
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


I almost never have 3 romex's in a box intended for a receptacle, and if I do, I stab what I can and wrap the rest. I use 18" boxes for receptacles and 22" boxes for switches. I keep things real simple.

EDIT: I pigtail the neutral in 3-wire circuits of course.

Last edited by Plan 9; 11-14-2006 at 07:17 PM. Reason: Suddenly had the urge to edit.
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Old 11-14-2006, 07:21 PM   #14
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan 9 View Post
I almost never have 3 romex's in a box intended for a receptacle, and if I do, I stab what I can and wrap the rest. I use 18" boxes for receptacles and 22" boxes for switches. I keep things real simple.

EDIT: I pigtail the neutral in 3-wire circuits of course.
Having 3 romex's in a box can save a lot of wire a lot of the time which means a lot of profit "whoop, whoop"
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Old 11-14-2006, 08:19 PM   #15
 
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


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Originally Posted by Sparky Joe View Post
Having 3 romex's in a box can save a lot of wire a lot of the time which means a lot of profit "whoop, whoop"
You are correct Sir! But you are a skilled, trained Electrician. We don't have too many of those types around here. My guys can't even read. I have dumbed down everything so that someone with the IQ of a tree sloth can follow my instructions...
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Old 11-14-2006, 08:42 PM   #16
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


Quote:
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You are correct Sir! But you are a skilled, trained Electrician. We don't have too many of those types around here. My guys can't even read. I have dumbed down everything so that someone with the IQ of a tree sloth can follow my instructions...
Guess that would make it a bit tough to make a buck, what part of California are you in? And haven't they implemented state licensing there already?

They hadn't yet when I didn't even know what romex was, but was given tools and told what to do.
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Old 11-14-2006, 09:50 PM   #17
 
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


I'm in Los Angeles. We have new requirements that electricians must obtain state certification, effective year end. Nobody takes it seriously. In fact the rule only applies to electricians working for electrical contractors, not GCs or anybody else.
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Old 11-14-2006, 10:07 PM   #18
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


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I'm in Los Angeles. We have new requirements that electricians must obtain state certification, effective year end. Nobody takes it seriously. In fact the rule only applies to electricians working for electrical contractors, not GCs or anybody else.
The contractor I worked for(and where I lived) was in San Pedro, True Light Electric, very small shop so don't go gunning for them because they mean no harm

Very different here; I can't do side work unless I have a 'master electrician's' license or have a business license with someone on payroll that has a master's license. Kinda nice though to keep the wages up for a skilled trade.
Can't be a journeyman electrician without 800 hours of school in 4 years nor maintain a jw license without 16 hours of school per year (and of course paying the state 60 bucks)

One thing that's dumb though; you can't work without a license and can't get a license without a job (a sponsor in electrical work), go figure right.
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Old 11-14-2006, 10:18 PM   #19
 
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


Sounds like a Catch 22. High standards are a very good thing, but only useful if the state actively chases down unlicensed people and puts them out of business, here in California, there is no enforcement activity at all. Once a year the CSLB will produce a video tape of a "sting" operation for the TV new agenceis, but aside from that dopey PR stunt nothing happens.

Just try to report unlicensed activity, they will get really annoyed and tell you to report it to the police.

Hey Joe, it's been nice chatting wih ya...
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Old 11-14-2006, 10:29 PM   #20
 
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Re: Connections To The Back Of A Switch


plan 9,anytime someone says it it a money thing(as oposed to a reliability thing),Big red flags go up for me.I am sorry but I am going to say you are a liar if you have installed a 100,000 backstabbers with no problems.What kind of back stabbers are you using.

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