What Is “Backstabbing” an Electrical Outlet? Info from an Electrician in Louisa, VA

October 20, 2017 9:38 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Backstabbing an outlet was a common practice in decades past, especially in the 1970s and ‘80s. The process of backstabbing involved making a shortcut to secure the wires of an outlet or switch.

These days, however, the practice is extremely outdated, and any quality electrician in Louisa, VA will avoid using the process at all cost. It has long since been discovered that backstabbed wires are quite dangerous, and can cause electrical fires.

Let’s take a closer look at backstabbing outlets and what makes it dangerous.

The dangers of backstabbing outlets

When someone backstabs an outlet, the neutral (white) wires and hot (red, blue or yellow) wires get pushed back into small holes behind an outlet, rather than being anchored by screws. It was basically used as a means of cutting corners by electricians in a bygone era to cut out one process of installing outlets.

This has been discovered to be quite dangerous, though. When you wire an electrical outlet, you must ensure all the wires are securely fastened into place, which does not occur in backstabbing. Simply shoving the wires into holes rather than screwing them in means that there is a potential for those wires to come loose over time. Loose wires are problematic, as they can cause electrical fires, occasional power interruptions and damage to the outlet, especially including melted or singed parts caused by increased heat.

How to tell if you have a backstabbed outlet

Unfortunately, there are still electricians out there who want to cut corners and still engage in backstabbing. It is faster and cheaper, but much less safe.

How do you know if you have an old, backstabbed outlet, or if an electrician recently used backstabbing to install a new outlet in your home? There are a few steps you can take to discover backstabbed wiring in your outlets at home. Here is a quick overview:

  • Turn off the power to the outlet at the electrical panel. Make sure the power is actually off by using a circuit tester—the last thing you want is to have an accidental electrocution because you did not properly shut the power off.
  • With a screwdriver, disconnect the cover plate from your outlet and unscrew the receptacle from the electrical box.
  • Carefully inspect the back side of the receptacle. If any of the wires have been inserted into the four holes in the back, you have a backstabbed outlet. You must then rewire the outlet, preferably with the assistance of a trained professional electrician so you can ensure the job is done right.

If you have one backstabbed outlet in your home, the chances become much greater that there are more. When this is the case, contact a trusted residential electrician in Louisa, VA to set up an appointment. The electricians at Diamond Electric have been trained to never use the backstabbing method when installing outlets, and will get the job done for you safely, efficiently and affordably. We look forward to working with you.

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