Electrical question: Replacing switch (slight issue with wire size)?

My wife asked to replace the light switch & outlets in a room... I bought some replacement outlets & a switch thinking it was going to be an easy replacement, but found some slight issues.

First, let me say, I have replaced all the outlets in the room - all of that is working just perfectly (and verified with a tester). It's just the switch that I'm wondering about.

The switch currently has both the neutral and hot coming into the "easy wire" holes in the back of the switch. There is a second wire coming off the right side of the switch. And then, the grounding wire.

The problem is, all the wiring in my house appears to be 12 gauge. All of the "easy wiring" holes on the switch & outlets I bought were 14 gauge only, and I can't seem to find any that are 12 gauge. I was able to get around this problem on the oulets because I could just use the second set of nuts. That's not available on the switch though.

What is the best practice for this? Do I splice my 12-gauge to a 14-gauge and put that in the "easy wire" hole. Do I connect both wires with a connector and then attach that single point to the nut? Is there a switch that has 12-gauge holes in the back?

(If it's of use, the reason there are two wires is because one goes to the light, and one goes to the bottom of one of the outlets in the room. The bottom outlet is properly setup with the switch already)

5 Answers

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  • pacman
    Lv 5
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Match the 12ga wire to a drill bit and drill out the easy-wire hole on the back of the switch.

    Source(s): binair - dunat 5
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  • Danny
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    There are a number of excellent electrical people posting here who will give you chapter and verse.

    For now, I'd just say take it easy on the back-wired stuff. Sure, they seem nifty, but way too many are are going to cause you problems; if I find one in my house, it's gone. At least look for top-quality back-wire devices, the kind with little brass plates under the side screws that can provide a much more secure clamp than the cheesy back-stab stuff.

    In general, do not mix wire gauges, and do not put more than one wire on a screw.

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  • 8 years ago

    First they make 20amp outlets which is the proper one for 12 gauge/20amp circuits you can tell by the small right angle slot cut into the verticle slot (the large one) on the outlet so to get to the question they also make 20amp switches with screw lugs and easy wiring holes ..i prefer using the screw lug because I think its a better connection and easier to troubleshoot if you have a problem ...as an added note I assume that this is a 20amp breaker on this circuit and thats why you dont want to go lower to anything only rated for 15amp its ok to go higher just not lower .if however you have a 15amp breaker then its ok to do what you said above

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29754479@N08/69113499...

    Source(s): wire nut 30 years
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  • 3 years ago

    perceive which black cord is going to the fixture the swap is to function. Splice a 6" pigtail into the relax 2 black wires. placed the switchleg and the pigtail on the swap. floor the swap.

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  • 8 years ago

    The best practice is not to mess with electricals,period.

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