Novice questions about wiring connections


Old 04-03-16, 11:45 AM
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Novice questions about wiring connections

I have been trying to learn as much as possible about electrical work. I'm still a novice, and I have a few questions. These are really basic, but I'm just trying to learn best practices. I want my work to look neat and professional. I appreciate any input.

1. If I am replacing a switch/outlet, is it best to re-strip the looped ends? Or, should I just unscrew and attach them to the new switch. I have some home automation switches that use pigtails instead of terminal screws. In that case, is it better to re-strip rather than straighten with pliers?

2. When undoing a pigtail, what is the best approach? Should I undo all of the wires with pliers? Can they safely be re-twisted when a new connection is added?

3. When tightening a wire nut, is there a way to tell when it is tight enough? Should I see a visible twist in the insulated part of the wires (especially #14)? I've noticed that in a couple of boxes in my house, the wires aren't twisted around each other (the insulated part, not the bare copper).

4. Can anyone recommend a good pair of linesman pliers? Is the Klein D213-9NE a good choice (

Thank you in advance for any suggestions/advice.
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Old 04-03-16, 12:07 PM
PJmax's Avatar
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You'd only need to re-strip the wire at a device if there wasn't enough copper showing or the wire broke off. If the wire is bent in a loop you can carefully straighten it out. If it breaks off.... then re-strip it.

When opening a splice.... untwist gently. You don't want to break off any of the wires. Some times the wire you want access to is on the outside of the splice in which case you can remove just that water without having to untwist everything.

The insulated part of the wiring is not supposed to be twisted.....just the copper part. One or two twists at the end are ok. The wirenut should be on fairly tight.

Those pliers are fine.
Old 04-03-16, 12:10 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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1) It depends on the condition of the wire. sometimes it is just easier to cut the device from the wire and restrip. However, if your wire length is a bit short I will tend not to restrip.

2) If you can, just twist out the pigtail from the group of wires. Adding a wire I leave the group and just twist the new wire with the group, It will will find its own place in the group. You can certainly loosen the twist and retwist the new wire in that way. What ever works for you.

3) It is tight enough when you can't tighten any more without hurting yourself. Tighten the nut, tug on each wire to make sure none are loose. That is good.

4) YES! Kline I think are the original makers of the linesman's pliers. I find them to be the best in weight, (for beating on things) comfort, and performance. Ideal also makes some nice looking ones but the one you posted is what I use everyday. I do take the grips off and install these: which feel better to me and last longer.

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