4 wires into one twist nut?

Reply

  #1  
Old 08-24-04, 11:53 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 331
4 wires into one twist nut?

I have been replacing my existing light switches with the wide rocker style switches and found a dangerous situation. One box that contains two switches had 4 black wires going into a red twist nut. The plastic on the twist nut was melted and charred black. Some of the rubber insulation on one of the wires was gone too, but melted or scraped off I could not tell.

My question is, can I safely put all four wires back into a single twist nut, assumming I can somehow cram them all in there? Is this to code? There are four white wires that are also put into a single twist nut, but no burning there. Complicating this is the fact that my house is wired with aluminum. The two switches are wired with copper, which is then pigtailed to aluminum, except for one. So again, the four wires I am trying to twist together are three aluminum and one copper. I am using a aluminum to copper twist nut.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-24-04, 01:03 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,915
I don't believe you can put 4 conductors into 1 red wirenut. I think the red one is only rated for 3 conductors. Use a larger wire not, I think the next one up is gray/blue in color.
 
  #3  
Old 08-24-04, 01:45 PM
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Stockton, CA
Posts: 67
If at all possible, I'd try to break it up so that only a single copper wire meets a single aluminum wire in an ALR-rated grease-filled wire nut. Then add additional copper pigtails elsewhere on the copper side with standard nuts. If your box is too full for that, you could even consider adding another box upstream solely for the purpose of making this bridge, then cover it with a blank panel, nothing but copper beyond it. You want that Cu-Al bridge point to be as "neat" as possible to avoid problems - melted wire nuts are not a good sign, and hint that you've got too much load on that circuit already. What guage Al wire, and what size breaker on that circuit? You need 12ga Al for a 15A circuit - 14ga is no good, and 20A circuit is too much.

Caveat: I'm a DIY'er, though with Al-Cu experience.
 
  #4  
Old 08-24-04, 03:37 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,915
I completely missed the AL part.. I must be really tired....

Unless the correct nut was used (it looks like it wasn't, Cu/Al nuts are purple in color) you will get what you found. Melted/charred connections. I don't know how many wired will fit into a Al/Cu nut, I can say that I've never had to use one), but it's probably best to simply put all Al wires with 1 Cu sumper wire into one of those special nuts, and then use a "regular" wire nut for the other copper conductors. Unless of course you only have 1 Cu conductor. And I would inspect all other junction boxes for the same problem.
 
  #5  
Old 08-24-04, 04:18 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 331
Now I am scared

OK, so I've read a lot on the web about how dangerous AL wire is in homes and how the purple connectors are even worse. Besides re-wiring my entire house with copper, why can't I find AL rated switches? I read one article that said these devices are now illegal?
 
  #6  
Old 08-24-04, 07:58 PM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 510
I was just holding an Al/Cu rated switch at Home Depot the other day. You can find them, they just cost a heck of a lot more than Cu-only rated switches.
 
  #7  
Old 08-24-04, 08:55 PM
Rlfrazee
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
You have entered the world of controversy...is aluminum wire safe? Many think it is not, many think that it is fine, installed properly. One agreement is it has to be 12 awg or larger. No way can I even begin to touch on all that has been written on this subject but I will give you a few places to get both sides.....RL
http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum.htm
http://www.homewiringandmore.com/aluminum/index.html
 

Last edited by Rlfrazee; 08-24-04 at 09:14 PM.
  #8  
Old 08-25-04, 09:42 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 331
Fixed, but may rewire later

A friend came over who is not licensed as a contractor but who works for a state university as an electrician. He fixed it but we talked about how hard it would be to rewire my entire house. He thought if I did the drywall, he could do the wiring one room at a time. My question is, how could we get it permitted, especially if we made some changes to improve the load on the kitchen circuit?
 
  #9  
Old 08-25-04, 12:36 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
It's almost certainly not legal for your friend to do the work. It would be legal for your friend to assist you in doing the work. I'm not sure what "do the drywall" means, but you should try to do this without damaging the drywall, at least without damaging much of it.

In most areas, a homeowner can get a permit to work on the electrical system in their own home. All you need to do is submit a plan and pay a fee. Of course, I would want to spend a few month studying the code first. I suggest you start with "Wiring Simplified", a $6 green paperback available in the Home Depot electrical aisle. If you decide to go ahead, you'll probably want to buy one of the $100 books such as "Wiring a House".

Some cities require you to pass an electrical compentency test before issuing the permit. A few cities require a licensed electrician to do all the work.
 
  #10  
Old 08-25-04, 01:38 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 331
Great advice!

Originally Posted by John Nelson
It's almost certainly not legal for your friend to do the work. It would be legal for your friend to assist you in doing the work. I'm not sure what "do the drywall" means, but you should try to do this without damaging the drywall, at least without damaging much of it.

In most areas, a homeowner can get a permit to work on the electrical system in their own home. All you need to do is submit a plan and pay a fee. Of course, I would want to spend a few month studying the code first. I suggest you start with "Wiring Simplified", a $6 green paperback available in the Home Depot electrical aisle. If you decide to go ahead, you'll probably want to buy one of the $100 books such as "Wiring a House".

Some cities require you to pass an electrical compentency test before issuing the permit. A few cities require a licensed electrician to do all the work.
Thanks for all the advice, this forum is really great. Is "Wiring a House" by Rex Cauldwell? I see it online for about $25. Our drywall has a lot of seams that show and there are areas that need the existing "repair" work done again. Since I may end up sanding a lot of the walls anyway, it seems like re-wiring would best done before all the drywall work. My friend said that we would cut the drywall out to get at the existing box as we re-wired. Is there another way?
 
  #11  
Old 08-25-04, 02:06 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
You usually don't need to get at the existing box. Many times (but not always) you can snake the new wires in after pulling the old wires out.
 
  #12  
Old 08-25-04, 03:27 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 331
Existing wires are probably clamped?

Originally Posted by racraft
You usually don't need to get at the existing box. Many times (but not always) you can snake the new wires in after pulling the old wires out.
We thought of that but my friend said that if the job had been done right when the house was first built, the wires would be clamped and we couldn't pull them out. I had hoped to use the existing wires to pull new wire through.

I also read on the web that AL wiring is required by code to be stapled every few feet.
 
  #13  
Old 08-25-04, 03:50 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
All wiring is required to be stapled, when initially installed, except when adding it later on. For this reason you cannot use old wire to pull new wire.

What type of boxes are installed? Are there clamps inside the existing boxes? If there are, then there won't be clamps outside.
 
  #14  
Old 08-25-04, 04:32 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 331
Outside clamps I guess

Originally Posted by racraft
All wiring is required to be stapled, when initially installed, except when adding it later on. For this reason you cannot use old wire to pull new wire.

What type of boxes are installed? Are there clamps inside the existing boxes? If there are, then there won't be clamps outside.
Don't remember seeing any clamps on the inside. Seemed like a brownish color plastic box. What about "Wiring a House" author, is it Rex Cauldwell?
The introduction to his book is good. Any additional recommendations?
 
  #15  
Old 08-25-04, 08:04 PM
Rainbird's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: California
Posts: 373
Check out "The Complete Guide to Home Wiring" by Black & Decker. Lots of pictures and very comprehensive from basic to advanced. I am no fan of their tools, but I must admit this is one terrific book.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes