Range -- neutral splice okay?

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  #1  
Old 05-17-05, 05:20 AM
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Range -- neutral splice okay?

When checking out my service panel, I noticed that the neutral wire for the electric range was not securely attached to the (single) neutral/ground bar. Rather, a few of the strands were simply shoved in the small space between the screw terminals on the bar and the body of the panel behind it. The reason this appears to have been done is that the wire is not long enough to reach any of the holes on the bar. Knowing the possible outcome of a disconnected neutral on a 3-wire (rather than 4-wire) 220 circuit, I bought a short length of wire and, rather than using a split bolt connector, spliced in the new length using what is basically a small rectangular aluminum block with holes at each end for inserting the wires, and set screws on the sides. I then taped the block well (using Super 33), inserted the other end of the new length of wire into an available space on the neutral/ground bar and properly torqued it. The HD guy said this type of splice was fine, the package indicated that it is okay for CU and AL, and I liked it aesthetically because it maintains the wire length in a straight line. So... is this solution okay? I'm just asking because I'd never seen this king of splicing device.
 
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Old 05-17-05, 05:30 AM
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In general, this splice is fine. However the devil is in the details, and the details of this installation will determine if it is okay.

The package for the splice should tell you if it is suitable for Cu or Al wire, and should also tell you the _size_ of wire that the splice is suitable for. Further, there may be information on the correct torque to be used when making splices. You should make sure that the wire sizes are correctly matched, and that you used the correct torque to tighten the screws.

The taping over of the splice is also important; if there is any chance that this splice is sitting against a 'hot' conductor, then you might need better insulation; on the other hand the wires are probably quite stiff, and you can make sure that the splice is clear of other conductors.

Additionally, if one of the wires is aluminium, you should probably use an anti-oxidant material, such as 'no-al-ox'. Some splices come with antioxidant already in the holes.

-Jon
 
  #3  
Old 05-17-05, 05:48 AM
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Thanks for the quick reply. I did get the right size splice block, and the wires (both original and the added length) are Cu. As to torque, I don't recall if the package listed torque specs (I actually did this a couple of months ago, but for some reason it just popped into my head). As to taping, I wrapped several layers. The panel is crowded, but I don't believe that the splice is contacting anything hot. What additional insulation would one add, if necessary?
 
  #4  
Old 05-17-05, 07:37 AM
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Location: Oregon
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A common way to insulate bare mechanical splices is to use several layers of thick _rubber_ electrical tape, followed by a couple of layers of the thin vinyl electrical tape. The rubber tape sticks to itself and forms a solid mass; but remains sticky and can be a real mess, so you have to cover it up with regular tape. But the rubber tape provides a much better mechanical insulating coating.

Another technique is to use heavy wall heat shrink tubing.

Still another trick is to use pre-insulated mechanical connectors. These have holes to insert the wires, and holes for the set screws, but an over-all plastic coating; no insulation required.

The rubber tape can be found at http://www.doityourself.com/store/8316879.htm

-Jon
 
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