Electrical wire connectors are a common and convenient method of splicing two current-carrying electrical wires together. Unlike many other electrical projects, installation of a wire connector is simple enough for a non-professional to do with very few tools. It should be noted that there are many different types of wire connectors. Some crimp on, while others slide or twist on. In this blog, we will discuss the steps in using the most common type of electrical wire connector: the twist-on wire connector.
The first step is very simple: turn off the power. To avoid dangerous electrical shocks, the power should always be turned off before beginning work on any wiring project.
Once this is done, the next step is to identify and select the correct size of wire connector. This is almost as important as turning off the power, as choosing the right size of wire for a job can prevent both mechanical and electrical failure as well as electrical fires. This is because when a switch or device is turned on, it causes an electrical current to flow through the wires and into the wire connector. Once the current reaches the connector, it is met with a minor resistance to its flow. This resistance causes the wires to slightly heat up and partially expand. When the switch is turned off and the current is stopped, the wires will cool and return to their normal size.
If the wrong size wire connector has been used, these changes in size will weaken the connection and could cause it to come apart. The conductors of these wires will be left exposed, potentially leading to many different problems. When choosing the size of wire connector, consult the side of the connector box and make sure the connector being used is rated for the size of the wire as well as the number of conductors in that wire.
The third step is to strip the wires being connected. Using a wire stripper, remove the coating on the ends of the two wires that are being connected. Be aware that no more than of an inch of the coating should be removed. Step four is to place the two stripped ends together. To do this, line up the two wires such that they are parallel with each other. Electricians will sometimes twist the wires together prior to placing the connector on them. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, for a connector to be approved by a safety testing board, the connector must make a firm connection without twisting the wires. So, applying the connector without twisting the wires will work just as well. In fact, leaving the wires untwisted will make future repairs simpler as the wires will be more easily separated.
The fifth step is to place the connector over the ends of the wires. Regardless of whether the wires are twisted or parallel with each other, place the cap section of the wire connector over the wires’ exposed conductors. After this, check to make sure that none of the exposed conductor material is protruding from the bottom of the connector. If some of the exposed wire is doing that, remove the cap, use a wire cutter to clip off part of the end, and try the process again.
The sixth and final step is to twist the connector on. After covering all of the exposed wires, twist the connector clockwise until it is tightly in place. Lastly, test the quality and strength of the splice by trying to firmly pull the wires free. If the wire connector isn’t as tight as possible, the cap may have slipped off.