Electricity: Connecting Wires


Making proper wire connections is one of the most important skills to learn to have a safe, trouble-free electrical installation. Loose connections result in open circuits and inoperative equipment, blown fuses or tripped breakers, arcing and sparking, overheating arid fires. Connections need to be clean and secure without damaging the wires. The most common connections include pressure terminal connectors on circuit breakers, wire-binding screws on receptacles and switches and pressure cable-connectors, which are twist-on connectors for splicing wires. Always make connections with power off.


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To splice wires, strip 3/4 in. (20 mm) of insulation from wire ends. Hold wires parallel with ends even or twist the wires together with side-cutting pliers. Twist connector clockwise until tight.

To attach wire to screw terminal, strip 3/4 in. (20 mm) of insulation off wire end. Use needle- nose pliers to bend wire into loop. Hook wire clockwise around screw and tighten.

A strip gauge on devices with push-in terminals shows how much insulation to remove. Push- in terminals are restricted to 14-gauge solid copper wires. Some have screws to clamp the wire securely once the wire is inserted. Push a thin screwdriver into the slot to release wire.

A pigtail is a short wire linking two or more circuit wires to one terminal. Never connect two wires directly to one screw terminal. Attach the end of the pig tail to the screw terminal.

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Last modified: Saturday, 2007-11-03 1:13 PST