Common Wire Connection Problems and The Solutions

Obviously, there are many electrical problems around the house but are traced the same essential problem, that is, wire connections that are made improperly or that have loosened over time. You may find this is one existing problem when you buy a house from a previous owner or perhaps it’s the result of work you did yourself. Many wire connection problems are no one’s fault but are simply the result of time. As far as we know, wires are under a constant cycle of heating and cooling, expansion and contraction. Every time a switch is used or appliances are plugged in, and the natural result of all this usage is that wire connections can loosen over time.

Tools and Materials Required: Flashlight, wire strippers, screwdrivers, utility knife, wire connectors, eye protection and electrical wire in various gauges.

Below are several common places that wire connection problems occur.

Loose Wire Connections at Switches and Receptacles

Till now, the most common problem is that screw terminal connections at wall switches and outlets become loose. Because these fixtures get the most use within an electrical system, thus you can check this place first if you suspect wire connection problems.  When loose wire connections at a switch, outlet, or light fixture happened, they are often signaled by a buzzing or crackling sound or by a light fixture that flickers.

To solve this problem, people usually need to turn off the power to the suspected wall switch, light fixture, or outlet. After shutting off the power, you can remove the cover plate and use a flashlight to carefully examine the screw terminals inside where the wires are connected. If you find any loose places, carefully tighten the screw terminals down onto the wires shall be the first solution.

Wire Connections joined together with Electrical Tape

A classic wire connection error is that wires are joined together with electrical tape rather than a wire nut or other sanctioned connector.

In order to solve this problem, turn off the power to the circuit will be the first step. Secondly, remove the electrical tape from the wires and clean them. Make sure there is the proper amount of exposed wire showing, then join the wires together with a wire nut or other approved connector.  Assuming the wire ends are damaged, you can cut off the ends of the wires and strip off about 3/4 inch of insulation to make a new and proper wire nut connection.


Two or More Wires Under One Screw Terminal

When you find two or more wires held under a single screw terminal on a switch or outlet, this is another common problem. It is allowable to have a single wire under each of the two screw terminals on the side of an outlet or switch, however, but it is obvious a code violation to have two wires wedged under a single screw.


Exposed Wires

It is quite common to see a screw terminal connection or wire nut connection where it has too much (or too little) exposed copper wire showing at the wires when the job is finished by amateur electricians. With screw terminal connections, there should be enough bare copper wire stripped to wrap entirely around the screw terminal.  Remember do not keep too much that excess bare copper wire extends out from the screw. Wires should be wrapped clockwise around the screw terminals, otherwise, they can be prone to loosening if they are reversed.

The solution is, to turn off the power to the device firstly, secondly disconnect the wires and either clip off the excess wire or strip off additional insulation so the proper amount of wire is exposed. Thirdly, reconnect the wires to their screw terminal or wire nut. Lastly, Tug lightly on the wires to make sure they are securely connected.


Loose Connections on Circuit Breaker Terminals

One uncommon problem is when the hot wires on circuit breakers in the main service panel are not tightly connected to the breaker. You may notice lights flickering or service problems on fixtures all along the circuit when this happens. When making connections to circuit breakers, please make sure to strip the proper amount of wire insulation from the wire and make sure that only the bare wire is placed under the terminal slot before tightening. Insulation under the connection slot is a code violation.

To fix the problem, it is recommended that repairs at the main service panel should be handled by a professional electrician. Amateurs is not suggested to attempt these repairs only if they are quite experienced and knowledgeable about electrical systems.


Faulty Neutral Wire Connections at Circuit Breaker Panels

Another unusual problem which will be recommended to be done by a professional electrician, when the white circuit wire is not correctly mounted to the neutral bus bar in the main service panel. It will be similar to those with a faulty hot wire.  The solution is, the electrician will check to make sure the neutral wire is sufficiently stripped and correctly attached to the neutral bus bar.

Post time: Jul-05-2023