Joining Wire to a Terminal


Joining a wire to a terminal screw is a simple procedure. But it's worth a few minutes and a little practice to learn how to make a secure connection. Terminal connections come under a lot of stress when devices such as switches or receptacles are pushed into boxes, and a poor connection can come loose. Wrap the wire almost all the way around the screw before tightening it. Make sure to wrap the wire clockwise around the terminal screw so that as the screw tightens it pulls the loop in. In an ideal connection, all the wire under the screw head is stripped and no more. Most homeowners use long-nose pliers to bend a loop in the wire, but if you plan to install a number of devices, consider purchasing a wire-bending screwdriver.

Step 1

With the tip of a pair of long-nose pliers, grab the bare wire just above the insulation. Twist to the left. Slide the pliers up a little and bend to the right.

Step 2

Move the pliers again and bend again to the right. This should form a partial circle with an opening wide enough to fit over the threads of a terminal screw.

Step 3

Loosen the terminal screw until it becomes hard to turn. Slip the looped wire end over the screw threads. Grab the wire on either side of the screw with long-nose pliers and tighten it around the screw.

Step 4

Check that the loop is on the terminal screw clockwise. Tug to make sure the wire cannot come loose. Tighten the terminal screw until the wire is snug between the screw head and the terminal surface.

Step 5

After all the wires are connected, wrap electrician's tape tightly around the device to cover the terminal screws. (Some inspectors prefer that the tape be left off so they can look at the connections.)

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