How To Splice Wires The Old-Fashioned Way For Maximum Safety
Why Learn To Splice Wires The Old-Fashioned Way?
Even in this modern age of push-in connectors and wire nuts, learning how to splice wires the old-fashioned way using electrical tape and wire is still a valuable skill. Here are some reasons why:
- It requires no special tools or supplies - just basic household items like electrical tape and scissors.
- It works in a pinch when you don't have wire connectors on hand.
- The technique is tried and true, having been used for decades before fancy connectors.
- It allows you to splice wires almost anywhere, even in tight spaces where tools won't fit.
- You'll gain a better understanding of electrical fundamentals by seeing the raw connections.
- It's a good backup method to know in case you ever run out of wire nuts.
- The satisfaction of learning a classic old-school technique!
Knowing how to splice wires this way is like having another useful tool in your DIY toolbox.
How To Splice Wires Together
Splicing wires the old-fashioned way takes only a few simple steps:
- Strip about 1/2" of insulation off the ends of each wire using wire strippers or a utility knife. Take care not to nick the metal wire.
- Clean any corrosion or oxidation off the bare wire ends using sandpaper or a wire brush. Shiny copper will conduct best.
- Pick the two wires you want to join and orient them so they overlap each other, with the bare copper touching.
- Twist the ends securely together using pliers. The more twists the better for a solid mechanical connection.
- Apply electrical tape over the twisted section, stretching it tight as you wrap. Cover with at least two layers of tape for durability.
- Check for any exposed wire and re-tape if needed. No bare copper should be visible when done.
- Optionally, cover the final splice with heat-shrink tubing or liquid electrical tape as an extra protective layer.
And that's it! With just tape and a bit of twisting, you've made a surprisingly solid temporary splice.
Tips For A Safe, Durable Splice
Follow these tips to ensure your old-fashioned wire splices are safe and built to last:
- Make sure wires are disconnected from power before splicing to avoid getting shocked.
- Splice wires of the same gauge whenever possible. Mismatched gauges are prone to overheating.
- Avoid kinking or sharply bending wires - this can break internal conductor strands.
- Apply tape tightly and stretch it as you go for a smoother, adhesive seal.
- Layer the tape so it overlaps itself by 1/2 the width for optimal coverage.
- Inspect aged splices periodically and re-tape any where the tape has dried out or peeled.
- For high-vibration areas like cars, use ultra-adhesive vinyl electrical tape to avoid loosening.
- In wet locations, seal the splice using liquid electrical tape or heat-shrink for extra water protection.
- Twist and tape individual conductor strands separately when splicing stranded wires.
Take the time to make safe, solid splices and they'll hold up great even decades later! While not as convenient as wire nuts, the basic tape-and-twist method still works remarkably well.
When To Seek A Professional Electrician
While splicing wires can certainly be a DIY job, there are times you may want to call a licensed electrician:
- Making connections inside the main electrical panel - miswiring can be extremely dangerous.
- Installation of new circuits, outlets, switches, or lighting fixtures.
- Troubleshooting complex wiring problems.
- Upgrading the electrical system to add capacity.
- Installing safety systems like GFCIs, AFCIs, or surge protectors.
- Ensuring proper grounding and bonding.
- Any time you feel unsure about electrical safety or code compliance.
- For specialty wiring like low-voltage lighting, EV chargers, backup generators, etc.
Pros have the expertise to handle electrical work safely and correctly. But for simple DIY jobs like end-to-end splices, learning how to tape wires professionally keeps you from needing to call an electrician every time. Just be sure to exercise caution and turn off the power first!
While wire nuts and push-in connectors dominate today, the art of splicing wires together with electrical tape is still a valuable technique for DIYers to master. It requires no fancy tools, works in tight spaces, and helps develop your fundamental electrical skills. As long as you make solid mechanical connections and weatherproof the splices properly with quality tape, this classic method remains a perfectly valid way to join wires safely.