Connecting Wires To Terminals

When connecting electrical wires to switches and receptacles, the way you strip, bend, and tighten the wire on the terminal will determine how good the connection really is. There are a couple of ways in making a connection to a switch or receptacle. They both come equipped with screw terminals on the side of the devices and slide-in connection holes in the back.

As I stated in a previous tip, using the push-in terminal slots is not recommended, and for the life of me, I don’t understand why the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) sign off on these devices without having these connection points removed. Anyways, what we are looking for in every connection we make electrically is a good, tight, secure connection, free of any play. A loose connection causes arcing, pitting of the surface area around the connection, sparking, and a buildup of heat.

To make the proper type connection to a device, use a pair of wire strippers and strip about 3/4″ of wire insulation from the wire to be connected. Using a pair of long nosed pliers or a hole in the wire strippers that you are using, bend a half moon shape out of the exposed copper wire. This bend will allow the wire to wrap completely around the screw terminal without any insulation touching the screw head.

Now comes the most important thing. When attaching the wire to the screw terminal, the wire must be placed in a manner so the opening faces the right. The reason being is the screw terminal tightens to the right, clockwise, and this allows the screw to actually draw in the copper wire around the screw as it is tightened. You see, if you turned the wire opening around, the gap in the wire could open even farther as the screw is tightened, making for a poor connection.

Tighten the wire screw firmly. Make sure that there is no wire insulation under the head of the screw and see that the wire is not resting on any part of the plastic housing of the switch or receptacle. The secure electrical connection you make today, will give you years of reliable electrical usage. Poor electrical connections rank high as the biggest causes of electrical problems in the home. Keep you family safe and avoid electrical connection problems by mastering this simple solution of making tight, flawless electrical connections to switches and receptacles.