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Old 01-06-2010, 08:33 AM   #1
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


I am doing work on my Uncle's apartment. In his bathroom he purchased a new light fixture, which uses (3) 100W Halogen bulbs. There is also a standard bathroom fan that works off of the switch as well. Previously, there was a double switch installed, in which the wiring was wrapped around and screwed onto the side of the switch (similar to a standard electrical outlet).

So, due to the strength of the halogens he decided he would like to have a dimmer switch. I purchased this switch at Home Depot.

(http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053).

The wiring went well and everything functions properly, so that is not the issue.

The problem is the wiring storage. The switch included 4 wires...of which all were used with 3 of them requiring wire nuts (with the exception of the ground wire) to link up with the appropriate corresponding wires in the electrical/junction box.

Now that 4 new wires have been introduced into the mix and an additional 3 wire nuts, there is no room for the switch to fit into the electric box. It is a a single electrical box or junction box (not sure of the proper terminology).

My question is, are the wire nuts necessary? Can I just twist the appropriate wires together and use electrical tape in place of the wire nuts? Is this dangerous? Can I remove all the wire nuts that were there previously in place and use tape instead as well? I am just trying to figure out if this is a safety hazard or dangerous in general. Also, if anyone has any alternate ideas I would really appreciate it. Thank you in advance.

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Old 01-06-2010, 08:37 AM   #2
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


Yes wire nuts are required by code and for safety. You should have no problems fitting these in the box correctly. What wire nuts (color) are you using. For what you are doing yellow wire nuts are all you need. red may be too much for two wires. Fold the wires neatly into the rear of the box. The wires should fold into the box accordion style so nothing is crimped as it goes in. Pull the wires from the wire nut to be sure your connections are secure enough.

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Old 01-06-2010, 08:48 AM   #3
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


I guess I would have to take a picture to show you next time I am there. I really do not think it is possible to fit them all in and then have the switch fit in as well. There are just too many and the wire nuts are taking up so much space. Yes, the wire nuts that came with the light fixture are indeed yellow or maybe orange, but they are pretty slim. Inside the box are about 6 wires that are not connected to the switch...figure they are separated into 3s and capped with a wire nut (red and thick). Then, I have 3 pairs of 2 that are all capped with a nut (orange or yellow)...so I have about 5 nuts total...2 of which are the big red ones, which I think are necessary because they are holding together 3 wires each. I really tried so many different ways to get them to fit. Would it be a bad idea to get really long outlet box screws and just drill them in and let the pressure takeover and squeeze the switch into the box...is this dangerous if the wires are properly secured with nuts and electrical tape wrapped over the nuts?
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:03 AM   #4
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


How many total wires (not including the ground wires) are in this box? Next, how deep is this box? It may be that the box is not rated for the CU. IN. required for the number of wires. If this is the case, you need to use a sawsall to cut the supporting nails loose and remove this box and replace with a deeper one. All this can be done without hurting the surrounding drywall if you are careful and take your time.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:07 AM   #5
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


Code requires Box fill to be calculated to determine the size of the box required
If you try to put too many wires in then they will not fit
Wire nuts are required & can't be eliminated
Do not use tape
Properly twisted & wire nutted no tape is required
Tape will dry out over time & then simply becomes a fire hazard

How many cables enter the box ?

6 cables are way too many for a single gang box
Usually 4 is the Max
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:13 AM   #6
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


I agree with SD that the box sounds overfilled. Here is one solution

http://aifittings.com/whnew146.htm
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:15 AM   #7
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I am going to have to take pictures next time I am there, which will obviously help as far as a visual goes for you guys. I believe there are probably 10 wires total...with 5 nuts now...problem is I do not have a saws all. Also, if I do end up removing the box and installing one that has more depth...how would I secure it properly with nails...I am thinking that the electrical boxes are usually installed prior to the drywall being installed, which makes securing the box with nails much easier.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:17 AM   #8
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Thats an interesting solution Jim.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:18 AM   #9
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


You need to replace this single gang box with a double gang and ad a switch for the bathroom fan in addition to the dimmer. You will damage the fan motor (and possibly the dimmer) if you try to run it off a dimmer.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:24 AM   #10
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HouseHelper: The fan turns on immediately when the switch is turned on regardless of where it is raised to...this is a problem? So, you are basically saying I need a double box and two independent switches...it does make sense but I am just unsure of how I am going to remove the current box and install a double..
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:28 AM   #11
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfies167 View Post
Previously, there was a double switch installed, in which the wiring was wrapped around and screwed onto the side of the switch (similar to a standard electrical outlet)
You can't run a fan off the dimmer
Prior to this you had 2 switches, one controlled the fan; off/on only for a fan
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:31 AM   #12
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


There's single gang combination switch/dimmers. There a little hard to find, but they're out there.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:31 AM   #13
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Okay so I have to replace the switch I bought...it is functioning properly with the dimmer, but you are saying long or short term it is going to do damage to the fan...
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:32 AM   #14
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


Yeah I could not find the switch combo I was looking for Jerry...this was the only switch I was able to find in Home Depot that would be able to operate both the light and the fan while giving the light fixture dimming capabilities.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:34 AM   #15
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Important Wire Nut and Electrical Tape Question


Most likely you'll have to order it or go to an electrical supply house. I don't remember seeing one at a HI store, but I really haven't looked for one. Here is one example:

http://www.westsidewholesale.com/300..._-na-_-na-_-na

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Last edited by jerryh3; 01-06-2010 at 09:44 AM.
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