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Adding a pigtail

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Oct 19, 2013, 10:53 AM
Adding a pigtail
Dimmer switch wouldn't work - bulbs were ok, so I removed the face plate and saw that the hot wire had fallen off the switch. I noticed that it had been pigtailed. The current pigtail is too short and I'm wondering if I can use a shrink sleeve on a new pigtail instead of wrapping the wire.
Oct 19, 2013, 04:32 PM
1) catch a pig....


one splice per wire, period. you will have to kill the breaker and insure the power is off (use a no-contact tester.) believe code is 10-inch leads for devices, to allow room to move them about. with a dimmer, they usually don't fit behind the device, which is why the lead is too short to begin with.

again, confirm there is NO POWER before proceeding.

pull out the line splice in the box, untwist the wire nut. strip the new pigtail, and using a plier, wrap it with the existing ones, turning clockwise, and make solid electrical contact. if the existing wires are crummy and not clean copper, you probably need to shine 'em up with a Scotchbrite before wrapping.

trim all ends, and twist on the wire nut. you should twist enough so the insulation twists a couple turns, also. solid mechanical join means the wires will not wiggle out of the wire nut. it is a good idea to overwrap the wire nut and the insulation with 33+ electrical tape to be sure nothing is going to happen years later.

push the splice back into the box against the back, hard, and connect the device solidly, wire under the screw. replace the device into the box, and screw down. here's the fun part, you can't be pinching the wires. with a dimmer, that's going to be a pain, and you may indeed utter a terrible oath Wink

plate on, power up, test, celebrate if it's working. this is DIY and the sun is likely to be going down, you don't have three jobs left before end of business like a pro would.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Oct 20, 2013, 08:25 AM
Not sure where to go on this. A pic would been nice.
But also not sure about this one splice rule you speak of either. Nor the device 10" rule. But all the dimmers I have ever seen or installed have factory assembled pigtails. And stranded wire can be difficult to work with when making up connections. Nothing that taking your time will not fix though. Do installers trim those leads to allow a more safe install? All the time. No set screws that you speak of either.
Back to the OP, can you extend a pigtail if needed, YES. As long as properly fastened. But I have no experience heat shrinking pigtails to speak of.
You could purchase a new dimmer as well. Older dimmers really never were an energy saver, but were highly touted as such by well meaning uninformed TV hosts. But newer better designed dimmers do actually save energy.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: CommonwealthSparky,

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