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Wire Connection Problems and Solutions

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Pigtail Connection

Pigtail Connection

Timothy Thiele
Here is a list of common wire connection problems and the solutions to fix them. As you do more home do-it-yourself electrical projects, don’t be surprised when you run across a host of these common problems. I’m here to right the wrongs and help you correct the flaws in your home’s electrical wire connections.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Each fix should take you less than an hour.

Here's How:

  1. The Problem:

    Here’s a classic wire connection that makes my stomach turn when I see it. I cannot believe the amount of times I’ve encountered electrical wire joined with electrical tape and no wire nut to hold them firmly together. It’s one thing to have them twisted together and taped, although still wrong, but quite another to have them untwisted and taped. It’s a potential fire hazard indeed!

  2. The Solution:

    Turn of the power to the circuit, remove the tape, clean the wires, twist the wires together, and twist a wire nut over the wires. If the wire ends are damaged and the wires are long enough to leave 6 inches of wire in the box, cut off and strip the wires to make a clean and effective splice. Twist the wires together and add a wire nut to secure the connection.

  3. The Problem:

    The wires that attach to a receptacle screw terminal have two or more wires under one screw. You may also have one wire under each of the two screws on each side of the receptacle.

  4. The Solution:

    What we’re looking to do is turn off the power to the circuit, remove the two black wires, twist them together, add a third wire called a pigtail, twist them together with a wire nut, and connect the pigtail wire to the hot terminal screw on the receptacle. Do the same for the two white wires by adding a 6-inch white wire to the two white wires, twist them together with a wire nut, and connect the pigtail wire to the neutral terminal screw on the receptacle for a secure connection.

  5. The Problem:

    The wire that attaches to the receptacle terminal isn’t wrapped around the screw clockwise, it is stripped back too far and exposes bare wire that can short out, the insulation isn’t stripped far enough and the screw is tightened down on the wire insulation that makes for a poor connection.

  6. The Solution:

    Strip back about of insulation from the wire, bend the bare wire in a half-moon shape, and wrap it clockwise around the terminal. Make sure that only the bare copper wire is under the terminal screw. Now, tighten the screw for a secure connection.

What You Need

  • Wire Strippers
  • Screw Drivers
  • Razor Knife
  • Wire Nuts
  • Safety Glasses
  • A Length of Electrical Wire

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