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Why Not to Use Push-in Terminals on Switches and Receptacles

Why These Connections May Cause Problems

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When connecting electrical wiring to switches and receptacles, you may be tempted to take the shortcut and use the push-in terminal tabs. Some devices come equipped with this feature for easy installation, but at what cost to the consumer?

If you could see what's under the hood of the switch or receptacle, you'd see that the push-n terminal slot allows the wire to come into the back of the receptacle and then slides past a spring-loaded piece of metal that holds pressure against the wire. This keeps the wire in place and from falling back out of the receptacle. But this connection doesn't keep the wire from turning in the terminal hole. By now you already can see what I mean. If a connection point can turn, it is obviously not very secure.

The proper way to make connections is to use the side setscrews or brackets under them to tightly grip the wire to these devices. This is the way the professionals would do it and that should be a clue to which connection is the appropriate connection.

I know what you're thinking, if the connection works, what is the big deal? Well, that's a great question. As with any electrical connection, if the connection points on electrical devices are loose or corroded, the result may be an electrical fire. With either connection, you'll need to strip the wire and attach it to the receptacle. With a few bends of the wire, you can attach switches and receptacles the professional way and have a home to enjoy them in.

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