Wire installation: direction a factor

Wire installation: direction a factor

Don Ganiere

Ottawa, Illinois

“Back-Wiring Poses Fire Hazard” correctly pointed out the hazard that may result from the use of push-in type wiring devices. In my 22 years as an electrician, I have come across many similar-type problems that did not cause fires. Unfortunately, the term “back-wired” is used incorrectly to refer to push-in devices.

The term “back-wired” as used by manufacturers of wiring devices and the electrical trade does not include push-in type devices. A back-wired device is one in which the wire is stripped, inserted into a hole in the back of the device, and then tightened with a screw to secure it and complete the connection. The connection made on a back-wired device is in every way equivalent to that made by the traditional method of wrapping the wire around the screw and tightening the screw. Using back-wired devices saves a small amount of labor at each termination, which can add up on a large project. I have never run across a problem caused by a back-wired device. Back-wired devices typically are of higher quality than push-in devices.

Push-in type devices are used because they are usually cheaper than back-wired devices and provide even more labor savings. However, they can become a hazard because of the small contact area and poor contact pressure. A jurisdiction would be wise to prohibit the use of push-in wiring devices, but please don`t paint back-wired devices with the same broad brush.

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