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Old 08-16-2015, 09:15 AM   #1
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Some miscellaneous wiring questions

I have noticed in some old wiring things that people do and I wonder if that is good idea or bad idea.

First, one house every receptacle or switch box I opened, I noticed the stranded conductors have a piece of insulation at the end. In other words, instead of removing the insulation say 1/2" from the end, this guy sliced the insulation about 2" from the end, then slid the insulation over by 1/2" to create an exposed segment of about 1/2". Then he looped the exposed end around the screw on the receptacle or switch. I guess this ensures the end strands stay together and there is short piece to grab on to in case you need to remove it? Is this a good practice?

Second, I think this may have been done to avoid using wire nuts? If there are two receptacles in a series, instead of making a splice, with two conductors, one to receptacle A, then another one down another conduit to receptacle B, he wired them in series. He used both gold screws on the receptacle, one for the hot coming in, and one for the downstream receptacle. Did the same for the neutral. One time, he even piggy backed a third conductor, by using the backscrew hole. So basically the first receptacle serves as a wire nut. This is not a good idea right?

Third, I know this has been covered a million times before, whether one should tape up a receptacle or switch, and the consensus is one should not. A pro will not do it, and one should always turn off power to the box before so it wouldn't matter. So I run into this situation a lot. In older homes built in 1950s 1960s 1970s, I am seeing nothing but EMT or rigid conduits and metal boxes. Often times handy boxes. A receptacle or switch is mounted on the metal handy box. I don't know the circuit to it. The panel label is 30 years old, not legible or have been changed, so you open up the cover plate. The first thing is to figure out what circuit(s) run to that box so I can turn off the relevant breakers. Well, the fit of the switch or receptacle on the skinny metal box is so tight, I can even stick a voltage tester against the screw hole with it mounted as is. I have to loosen up the two 6-32 screws so I can back out the switch or receptacle, so I can apply a voltage tester against the screws. But this is a metal box, and if I am not careful as you tease it out, there is a certain resistance from old solid conductors, I think there is a real chance the exposed screws could touch the metal box. This is where I think taping up the thing could be helpful no? The only alternative is to turn off the main breakers to the entire house.


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Old 08-16-2015, 10:16 AM   #2
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1. Never heard of the insulation and tag end being left on before.
2. Common practice to use double screws as feed through. One wire per screw though unless it a back wire device with the plate that allows for two screws.
3. If it's a receptacle you don't need to go on the screws. Use the holes where you plug in devices on the front of the receptacle. Or plug in a radio and turn it up loud. Then you don't need to keep going back and forth to see if it is off. You will here it go off. If it is a switch then turn it on and observe the device that is switched. Then label the inside of the cover plate with the breaker number.


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Old 08-16-2015, 10:16 AM   #3
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Issue 1. Perfectly acceptable. Done quite often with stranded conductors.

Issue 2. Perfectly acceptable unless there are MWBCs. I would use pig tails even without MWBCs.

Issue 3. Place the NCV tester in the receptacle slot. No need to disassemble.

Last edited by brric; 08-16-2015 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 08-16-2015, 10:45 AM   #4
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You can strip solid or stranded and jump the devices.
Leaving insulation on helps it not fan out.
I don't leave that insulation on.
FYI. Try twisting the stranded wire counter clock wise before bending it and wrapping around the device screw. As you screw down it pulls the strands tighter instead of fanning.

Pros don't use tape?

Use it. It helps if you install metal boxes. It helps if a contractor works around it later on. It helps you or someone else's pushing the receptacle in or pulling it out.

The goo? Don't worry about it. Tape or no tape at your discretion.

Pros do tape also
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Old 08-16-2015, 10:51 AM   #5
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Tracing circuit for breaker.

Yes. Done the radio thing hundreds of times.

Seriously. I picked up a Klein tracer from Home Depot several months back.
Seriously. The best 70 bucks I've ever spent.
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Old 08-17-2015, 05:26 PM   #6
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Is stranded wire permitted under code? I have used it a lot on automotive, but never on a house.
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Old 08-17-2015, 05:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by manatee View Post
Is stranded wire permitted under code? I have used it a lot on automotive, but never on a house.
absolutely. In fact I work commercial/ industrial and use stranded almost exclusively.

As to leaving a bit of insulation on the wire: very common. It helps keep the strands together/ makes it a bit neater.

And yes, sometimes pros use tape. In fact I was on a job a few years ago where it was actually a job spec (for the laymen; installation practices required by the construction management company). I typically do not but sometimes when stuffing a switch or receptacle in a handy box or especially a metal cut in box where I use Madison straps. the ends of the Madison straps and side screws of the device end up a bit too close for me.
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Old 08-17-2015, 05:46 PM   #8
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Yes it is allowed, but you probably won't see it indoors unless your house has a conduit system. Romex doesn't come stranded in the #14-10 sizes.

If you work with # 8 or larger wires, most of them will be stranded.


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