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Thread: Tightening Wire nuts /nut sizes

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    Default Tightening Wire nuts /nut sizes

    The back of the wire nut boxes are very confusing, with several numbers. How do you know what wires will fit?
    Also, how do you know when the wirenut is tight enough? are you supposed to use a tool or just your hands?

    TIA,
    Molo
    "Any American who is prepared to run for President should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so."
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  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by molo
    How do you know what wires will fit?
    It depends on the number of wires and their gauges. If the wire nut is too small, the wires won't fit inside. If the wire nut is too large, the wires can pull out easily.

    Quote Originally Posted by molo
    Also, how do you know when the wirenut is tight enough? are you supposed to use a tool or just your hands?
    Just hand-tighten them and then wrap some electrical tape around the opening.

  3. #3
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    Sparkies - cleanup in aisle three!


    I'm not sure about the details, so hopefully a real electrician will swing by. But as far as I know, it's supposed to be pretty tight. Electricians do it by hand, but they really crank on those suckers. Not finger-tight, forearm tight.

    Electrical tape over a nut is a nice gesture: it gives fair warning to the next guy.

    As for which nut to use, that's what those numbers on the back of the box are for: all the combinations of wires that nut will hold. So many of this size, so many of that size, etc.

    Yellows & reds cover most household needs.
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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    Sparkies - cleanup in aisle three!


    I'm not sure about the details, so hopefully a real electrician will swing by. But as far as I know, it's supposed to be pretty tight. Electricians do it by hand, but they really crank on those suckers. Not finger-tight, forearm tight.

    Electrical tape over a nut is a nice gesture: it gives fair warning to the next guy.

    As for which nut to use, that's what those numbers on the back of the box are for: all the combinations of wires that nut will hold. So many of this size, so many of that size, etc.

    Yellows & reds cover most household needs.
    Nicely Put Frinchie

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
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    1. i've heard the tape was the sign of an amateur

    2. There are 20-30 nsets of numbers on the boxes

    3. Yes i ususally use red or yellow

    4. Is it causing a problem with over-heating if you tighten them to the point that the wires coming into the nut begin to twist?

    TIA,
    molo
    "Any American who is prepared to run for President should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so."
    Gore Vidal.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    No...I like to pull individually on each wire after I get a nut installed to make sure something didn't slip. Probably the worst thing in this situation is a loose connection.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  7. #7
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molo
    1. i've heard the tape was the sign of an amateur
    No tape is needed if the wire nut is installed propertly
    Quote Originally Posted by molo
    4. Is it causing a problem with over-heating if you tighten them to the point that the wires coming into the nut begin to twist? TIA,
    molo
    I twist the nut until the conductors are twisted at least twice on the outside of the nut

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    Sparkies - cleanup in aisle three!.
    Inside joke?

    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    Not finger-tight, forearm tight..
    No wonder I'm not an electrician. I have to use my fingers to tighten the nut. They must have specially designed forearms that grab on to it and really crank it tight.

  9. #9
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Verdeboy
    They must have specially designed forearms that grab on to it and really crank it tight.


    As you can see that the electricians forearm has some interesting aspects that are internal to the arm itself

  10. #10
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    Verdeboy -

    Inside joke? I thought it was pretty obvious.

    Ha-ha on the forearm joke. But when you crank on something really hard with your hands, the forearm muscles come into play... all I know is that, when he's tightening wire nuts, sparkie's elbow moves. He's putting his whole arm into it.

    Seriously - if you're going around twisting wire nuts just hand-tight, you're going to get a lot of call-backs for loose connections... if you're lucky. If you're unlucky, the results might be a bit worse than that.


    (Side-comment... just so you don't think I'm all Joe T on you) Lesson #1, if you're working outside the law, is to make sure your work is perfect. "As good as most" doesn't cut it, and "good enough" is just out of the question. It has to be better than any pro's. If something goes wrong, a licensed/insured guy's butt is covered, to some extent. But if you're being Harry Tuttle, they're out to get you already. You have no safety net, you can't afford a mistake, you are completely on the hook if something goes wrong. Cover Your Ass, bro... learn up on this stuff.


    Molo -

    The danger of overheating is if you don't tighten them enough. Loose connections = arcing = fire hazard. As long as you don't go tight enough to damage the wire or the nut (I think this is why they don't use tools to tighten the nuts)... the tighter the better.

    And yeah, electrical tape is the mark of an amateur. Not to take cheap shots, but if you're going to leave nuts insufficiently tightened, then it's a good idea, as it does give the next guy fair warning that an amateur's been at this wiring.
    Master Plumber Mark:

    there is nothing better than the
    manly smell of WD 40 in the air
    while banging away on brass with a chisel and hammer...

    it smells like......victory......

    do not hit your thumb...
    __________________
    Just so everyone's clear: I'm the POODLE in the picture ("french", get it?) The hot woman is my wife.

  11. #11

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    The connection should be mechanically secure, twisted with pliers, prior to the application of the wire nut. Then finger tight is OK

  12. #12
    Electrician Chris75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ked
    The connection should be mechanically secure, twisted with pliers, prior to the application of the wire nut. Then finger tight is OK

    Not true, read the directions that come with the wirenut... Pre twisting is not required, but feel free to do so.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member
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    i always recommend twisting of solid conductors i.e romex but in commercial uses we use alot of stranded wire and it's not necessary to twist them. for some reason the wn just don't bite as good on solid wire.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member seaneys's Avatar
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    You also have to watch the difference between wing nuts and wire nuts. I like wing nuts much better. You can also get one more 12ga wire in some of the wing nut brands than in the normal wire nuts.

    A little trick I have found is to use stranded wire. I have a hard time getting the torque I need to feel confident in tieing 3 or 4 12ga wires if they are solid.

    I'm not a pro...

    Steve

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    Seriously - if you're going around twisting wire nuts just hand-tight, you're going to get a lot of call-backs for loose connections... if you're lucky. If you're unlucky, the results might be a bit worse than that..
    Haven't had a call-back yet. I think you're splitting hairs a bit. Molo just wanted to know "hand-tight vs tool." Consensus is hand-tight.
    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    (Side-comment... just so you don't think I'm all Joe T on you) Lesson #1, if you're working outside the law, is to make sure your work is perfect.
    So, you're a GC and an expert on New Mexico law?

    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    ("As good as most" doesn't cut it, and "good enough" is just out of the question. It has to be better than any pro's.
    Geesh. I guess I better start training for the world wire nut competition...and win...if I'm going to keep installing those light fixtures and receptacles.

    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    Cover Your Ass, bro... learn up on this stuff.
    Duuuh. That's why I keep posting all of my "rookie questions."

    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    And yeah, electrical tape is the mark of an amateur.
    I've seen plenty of wiring done by electricians, where a bit of electrical tape is used to cover the open end of the wire nut. It serves 2 purposes: The first is an insurance measure against wire pull-out. The second is to seal the connection in the unlikely event that water gets in there, from a roof leak, etc...
    Last edited by Verdeboy; 08-18-2007 at 10:10 PM.

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