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DIY Lookout - Electrical Receptacle
Old 09-30-2010, 12:39 PM   #1
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DIY Lookout - Electrical Receptacle

I needed to change a GFCI receptacle, and what should have been a simple job, was a frustrating pain in the arse. I simply needed to pull out the old one, and install the new.

I bought the new GFCI receptacle at H/D, it's a Leviton Decora-style with wire-through capability, which I needed.

Leviton, a US company, has been in the electrical fixture business since time immemorial. I have never had trouble with their stuff, and usually look for their brand.

What should happen when you unscrew a screw on a receptacle to go to loop a wire under, the screw head should come up as you turn the screw CCW. Then you can hook the wire under the screw head, squeeze the ends a bit with a needle-nose to tighten the loop, and tighten the screw down. Simple!

But oh-no, not this new idiotic screw terminal design they have! As I turned the screw CCW to loosen, the head did not rise. Huh? Instead, the screw slides in and out when loosened. There seems to be a captive nut plate (like maybe a square) inside the body of it, that can let the screw slide in and out. So when you go to loop the wire under the screw head, you can't, as the head is down against the body. You have to get in there with a small screwdriver or fingernail edge, and try to hold the rim of the screw head UP, while you attempt to insert the wire under it, which tends to push the screw head down again due to the close side-tolerances of the body around the terminal. Repeat the above action many times, with cursing. It is so frustrating.

Now imagine trying to do all this as you finally get a couple wires attached, and can't move it around as much to attach the rest.

What should have been an easy 15 minute job loafing along, turned into a 1 1/2 hour very frustrating pain in the arse.

The package says "Made in China". Maybe somebody over their "improved it" to cheapen manufacture cost. But they obviously don't use them themselves.

So now I will be suspicious of even simple duplex receptacles, if that screw terminal idea spreads there. I'll probably go over to the tool dept. and borrow a screwdriver off the shelf and take it over to electrical to check whether the terminals work properly or not.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:44 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Telly View Post
So now I will be suspicious of even simple duplex receptacles, if that screw terminal idea spreads there. I'll probably go over to the tool dept. and borrow a screwdriver off the shelf and take it over to electrical to check whether the terminals work properly or not.
Telly, don't risk compounding the problem by using a crappy Chinese-made screwdriver off the shelf. BYOS from home - preferably an old Craftsman.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:59 PM   #3
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Telly.
I've seen this before, it is a PITA. I'm holding in my hand a non-GFCI Leviton duplex (model CBR15) which was made in the USA and the screws don't do this. It does have annoying "floating" wire grabber/washers under the screwheads that can also get in the way.

Maybe they are trying to encourage everyone to buy and use the "push-in" terminals. Sure, they aren't as secure, but code calls them "good enough" so who are we to argue?
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Old 09-30-2010, 01:14 PM   #4
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Some of these recepticles have insertion holes on the back near the screw. You loosen the screw, insert the stripped end of the wire into the hole, and then tighten the screw. This tightens a clamping device onto the wire inside the recepticle body. IMO, this is much better than the "push-in" retention mechanism, and easier than trying to loop the wire under the scew head.
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:05 PM   #5
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Telly.
..........................Maybe they are trying to encourage everyone to buy and use the "push-in" terminals. Sure, they aren't as secure, but code calls them "good enough" so who are we to argue?
I had a problem with a bedroom circuit that would mysteriously work, then not work. I finally tracked it down to an outlet with push connectors (that I had installed years ago). I always use the screw terminals now.
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:43 PM   #6
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Some of these receptacles have insertion holes on the back near the screw. You loosen the screw, insert the stripped end of the wire into the hole, and then tighten the screw. This tightens a clamping device onto the wire inside the receptacle body. IMO, this is much better than the "push-in" retention mechanism, and easier than trying to loop the wire under the screw head.
This is what I'm thinking also. I really don't like the "loop under the screw" technique. You should be able to just insert the wire and have the screw clamp down on it, w/o the twisting force trying to do other things to the wire. I suspect that if done correctly, it would actually be easier. But maybe not, stranger things happen all the time.

Wait a minute..... OK, back from the basement, I just remembered I had a Levitron GFCI I have not installed yet (whaddya do all day indeed!). Yep, instructions give two options - if you strip the wire and push through the back hole, it will clamp down on the wire like a vise. Or, you can loop it around under the screw. It actually seemed like the screw head pulled right out to do that, but it was different than usual, so it could throw you. And they didn't really explain it in the instructions, just that you 'could' do it that way. At any rate, I'd say I'm in favor of this design - I like it. Options are good.

And yes, this is different than the 'push in' terminals, because the screw actually clamps it in those jaws. Should be very secure.

-ERD50
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Old 09-30-2010, 07:01 PM   #7
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I think that putting the wire in the hole in the back and just tightening the screw is much better. I would even call it an improvement.

I had a short in my home with the style where you wrap the wire around the screw. They left much excess bare wire when they wrapped it around the screw and over the years the socket started to shift in the box as the mounting screws got loose. The whole circuit blew and I had to figure out which boxes were on the circuit and open them all up.

The piece of wire had somewhat welded itself to the metal box when it shorted so the breaker kept tripping.

We were in the house 20 years when that happened. We had rearranged furniture and that socket had not been used in quite some time if ever.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:15 PM   #8
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agree - why would a manufacturer take a step backwards in design. that captive nut should be retianed in place letting the screw ride out. does home depot buy this version for .0001 cents less than the nut retained version? if you were in the business you wouldnt buy a second case of this crap.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:48 PM   #9
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agree - why would a manufacturer take a step backwards in design. that captive nut should be retianed in place letting the screw ride out. does home depot buy this version for .0001 cents less than the nut retained version? if you were in the business you wouldnt buy a second case of this crap.

If you were in the business you would buy the push in without the screw... much faster... who cares if it stays....
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Old 10-01-2010, 01:17 AM   #10
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What should have been an easy 15 minute job loafing along, turned into a 1 1/2 hour very frustrating pain in the arse.
I thought the way to live in retirement is to take a 15 minute job and stretch it out for 1 1/2 hours.
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Old 10-01-2010, 10:41 AM   #11
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Maybe they are trying to encourage everyone to buy and use the "push-in" terminals. Sure, they aren't as secure, but code calls them "good enough" so who are we to argue?
As tenacious as some of those grabbers hold on, I'm unimpressed by their contact area with the wire. I've taken a hammer to some old ones that I have taken out of service. The physical contact to the wire are knife-blade-like edges of the spring metal piece. Looks like they concentrate a lot of current into a small actual contact area, with relation to the total available cross-sectional area of the wire itself. Like you, I think "and this is a good idea... why?"

Quote:
Some of these recepticles have insertion holes on the back near the screw. You loosen the screw, insert the stripped end of the wire into the hole, and then tighten the screw. This tightens a clamping device onto the wire inside the recepticle body. IMO, this is much better than the "push-in" retention mechanism, and easier than trying to loop the wire under the scew head.
That jogged my memory. When I was fighting the screws on the fool thing, I had noticed movement down in one of the back-wire holes. That seemed odd, but didn't look into it futher as I was not interested in back-wiring it. I have since gone back and read the instructions (yes, I did read them first, but I skipped over all back-wiring info), and lo and behold, there is no spring terminal retention. They are using the regular side-clamping screws also for the back-clamp effect. It is this double-purposing of the side screws that is making using the loop-under-the-screw method a nightmare now.

Quote:
Yep, instructions give two options - if you strip the wire and push through the back hole, it will clamp down on the wire like a vise. Or, you can loop it around under the screw. It actually seemed like the screw head pulled right out to do that, but it was different than usual, so it could throw you. And they didn't really explain it in the instructions, just that you 'could' do it that way. At any rate, I'd say I'm in favor of this design - I like it. Options are good.
But, unfortunately, they have screwed-up (NO pun intended!) the use of the side screws for looping a wire under, as it is almost impossible to keep the screw head "up" while attempting to put the wire "under". Doing one wire out in free space might be OK, but doing multiple wires, five in this case, with the receptacle hanging out of the wall on limited length is not!

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that captive nut should be retianed in place letting the screw ride out.
Absolutely! Or else, don't bother putting side terminals on it at all!

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I thought the way to live in retirement is to take a 15 minute job and stretch it out for 1 1/2 hours.
It was going to be out to 15 mins or so, by taking it easy! Not spending 1 1/2 hours sweating away in a small half/bath with the door closed (door in the way of shoulder to get a good hand on it), needing finger to try to hold up screw head, wire, and pliers all in the exact same spot. Then doing it times five! Hey, nobody's paying me for this! That one became "work".
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:03 PM   #12
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What was this job on the cuss word scale?
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:28 PM   #13
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I installed one of these in DD's bathroom. Definitely an "F".
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:12 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by It was going to be out to 15 mins or so, [I
by[/I] taking it easy! Not spending 1 1/2 hours sweating away in a small half/bath with the door closed (door in the way of shoulder to get a good hand on it), needing finger to try to hold up screw head, wire, and pliers all in the exact same spot. Then doing it times five! Hey, nobody's paying me for this! That one became "work".
The joke around my house is that every small job requires 2 or more trips back to the hardware store. That usually blows half the day.
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Old 10-02-2010, 06:20 AM   #15
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The joke around my house is that every small job requires 2 or more trips back to the hardware store. That usually blows half the day.
My job on Thursday took 4 trips.
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