How to Use Electrical Wire Connectors Safely

electrical-wire-connectorsSeveral of our DIY projects have required the use of electrical wire connectors or electric wire end caps. However, we’ve never covered how to use electric wire connectors safely, so we thought we’d rectify that situation today.

It’s extremely important to create good, tight, safe electrical connections. Loose connections cause sparks which arc from wire to wire. Those sparks can go wild, causing a fire.

Many of the connections you’ve seen haven’t used electric wire connectors, of course. They’ve used screws.

Screw connections are usually a simple matter of fashioning the wire into a small fishhook that fits around the screw, and then tightening the screw. Connector caps are a little more complicated.

First, you need to know that connector caps come in several sizes ranging from the very small to the very large. You always want to check the package directions to see how many wires it can handle.

You’re sort of following a “Three Bears” strategy with end caps. You don’t want them too big and you don’t want them too small. The safest strategy is to pick one that’s just right – which is why it’s a good idea to buy a large assorted kit if you plan to do too much DIY electrical wiring.

Once you’ve chosen the right size you’ll need to figure out how much insulation to strip from the wire. Again, you don’t want too much wire exposed, but you also don’t want too little wire exposed.

Fortunately the package should tell you exactly how much to strip. Be sure that you don’t use anything except a pair of professional wire strippers for this task. Some people try to do this task with knives. This is incredibly dangerous. The knife could slip and cut you, and it can damage and fray the wire inside of the insulation. Just use the wire strippers.

Sometimes you’ll be doing a project only to find that some of the wires have been nicked, bent, or twisted. When you work with electricity you always want to have clean, straight wire. The best thing to do in this case is to go ahead and cut the wire down a little bit and then strip a little more insulation until you expose the good wire.

When you go to put the wires into the wire connector you’re also going to have one of two situations. Either you’re going to be connecting a group of smooth wires, or you’re going to have one wire that’s stranded and one wire that’s smooth.

Smooth wires should all be lined up exactly before you place the end cap on the wire. Then you can simply twist the cap clockwise and you’re done. You can add a little electrical tape to make your connection a little more secure.

If you have a stranded wire you’ll want to extend it one eighth of an inch above the smooth wire before capping it. Then twist the wires as normal.

Again, if you’re uncomfortable with this or any other electrician’s technique then it’s best to call in a professional. This technique looks simple on the surface, but it also demonstrates that there are some nuances to electrical work.

If you live in Pittsboro, Hillsborough, Carrboro, Wake Forest or anywhere else in the Triangle Area give us a call. We’ve been helping Raleigh area homes and businesses with their electrical needs for over 25 years. We’re open 24/7 and we’re known for our safe, trustworthy service.

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