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Why You Need A Small Flat Head or Slotted Screw Driver in Your Tool Box When Working With Old Receptacles


If you have an old house like mine (built around 1960s), you most likely will have to replace some of those old receptacles.

In addition to my usual electrical tools (i.e. wire stripper, wire cutter, lead tester, etc.), there is one simple tool that I consider to be absolutely indispensable: a small flat head (a.k.a. slotted) screw driver.

Why? What I found out when working with old receptacles is that wirings were backstabbed (pix 1).

Now if you have long enough wiring inside the electrical box, you can simply cutoff them off and attach to a new receptacle. But because electrical boxes used in the 60s were rather small and crowded, I found most lead wires to be very short.

This is where a small tipped slotted screwdriver that comes in handy (any small flat head screwdrivers will work as long as the tip is 3 – 3.5 mm).

Backstabbed wires can easily be removed by inserting a screwdriver into a small slot next to wire (pix 2) and simply push in to release the backstabbed wiring, then carefully tugging on wires to detach from the receptacle (pix 3)

I have many (many) different types of screwdrivers, but I have reserved this one particular screwdriver for the sole purpose of detaching wires from old receptacles because it just makes my DIY life infinitely easier (and faster too).

If you do not own one (and you are planning to work with old receptacles) I would recommend a Wiha 26197 Seven piece Precision Slottted and Phillips Screwdriver set from Wiha as it is made with high quality materials. It doesn’t hurt that it is also made in Germanany.


Well, that it for this project. Please note that when working with receptacles, please make sure to turn off the circuit breaker and place a red tape over it so that someone does not accidentally does not turn it back on.

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