Is it okay to put electric tape over bare wire?

pickindaisiesAugust 7, 2012

I am installing a light fixture - normally an easy task for me (I've done lots). But on this one I accidentally spliced the wire insulation on the fixture wires too short so there is now too much bare wire exposed to where it would join with the receptacle wires. Can I safely just wrap some electrical tape around each section that is bare leaving of course the ends free for the wire nuts?

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bus_driver

Did you mean "stripped" instead of spliced? The tape is one solution. If the wires overall are sufficiently long, the excess exposed copper can be cut off. Cutting wires shorter must be done with careful forethought.
Disputing posts will soon follow.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:41PM
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pickindaisies

Yes, sorry, i meant stripped. The wire as a whole is NOT long enough and that is the problem. . . . so, now what?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:09PM
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btharmy

If the wire is not long enough, I don't understand how you could have too much insulation stripped off? Also, code requires at least 6 inches of free conductor at each splice point. Too much is always best, you can always cut some off.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 10:31PM
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randy427

I find a preferable method being to cut off some of the exposed copper to where you have just enough to wire-nut on a short extension of factory insulated wire.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 9:27AM
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brickeyee

"Also, code requires at least 6 inches of free conductor at each splice point. "

Not for fixture wires.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:18AM
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bus_driver

The neater solution is to use a short piece of shrink tubing to cover the bare portion. I prefer to use a heat gun to shrink the tubing rather than a flame heat source. I do not know the service temperature rating of the shrink tubing. It may vary depending on several factors and typically is not marked on the tubing.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 5:25PM
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alan_s_thefirst

Heat shrink is good. An alternative, especially if it's a warm fitting (it may have high-temp rated silicone wire, it'll feel rubbery) is the braided 'cloth' sheathing you find in things like toasters. It's typically called "H.O." sleeving and is usually fibreglass so suitable for high temperatures.

That being said, I'd use heatshrink. The voltage & temperature ratings should be printed on it.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:11PM
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brickeyee

"The voltage & temperature ratings should be printed on it."

Rarely, on only on longer pieces.

The ratings only apply AFTER the material is correctly shrunk anyway.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:43AM
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alan_s_thefirst

Nonsense. The stuff I use has the stats printed every few inches. Heatshrink that doesn't have ratings printed wouldn't be UL/CSA approved, I'd assume, since display of the ratings and approval number is usually a requirement, right?

I didn't know the ratings applied post-shrink, I've always assumed the shrinking was optional if you didn't mind a loose fit (although I almost always do shrink what I use, and I've used a lot over the years.

This is the fibreglass sleeving I referred to earlier:

http://www.hilec.com/electrical-sleeving.htm

I also used a lot of this stuff when I worked for a medical electronic equipment manufacturer:

http://www.canford.co.uk/Products/39-420_HELLERMANN-SLEEVES-H20-Black-pack-of-100

Here is a link that might be useful: Raychem Heatshrink

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 10:08PM
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kurto

Alan, these products appear to be industrial, and not generally available to the public. Do you have any links to retailers where these are available in reasonable quantities?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:50PM
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brickeyee

"The stuff I use has the stats printed every few inches. Heatshrink that doesn't have ratings printed wouldn't be UL/CSA approved, I'd assume, since display of the ratings and approval number is usually a requirement, right? "

Where did you find this?

While some marking is required under some NEC provisions and listings, it is far from uniform.

It is not required to be visible after installation that would put a rel crimp in fishing into concealed spaces).

You can also cut cable, wire, shrink, etc. into short pieces for the application without needing to preserve marking.
An inspector may ask to see proof the material is what you claim, but the most that you would have in many instances is a purchase receipt.

Better go read the actual instructions that come with the products you use instead of guessing.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 9:24AM
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alan_s_thefirst

As you say, Brickeyee, chances are you may not end up with a piece in place with the requisite info. If I knew something would require inspection, I'd make sure I used a piece with the markings. That being said, heatshrink is used by manufacturers quite often and I doubt they take such care. I suppose the UL people test it or otherwise verify what the mfr has used.

I always read instructions, btw. :)

Kurto, I just threw those links up quickly. Typically I'll ask the mfr or look on their site for local retailers. Jaycar.com.au carries hobbyist supplies, Radio Spares (don't know what they're called now but are usually very expensive) - www.mouser.com is probably your best bet. You can also get a lot of this stuff on Ebay and Amazon. As for Hellerman sleeving, you'd have to inquire via that link. It's kind of specialised but offers more flexibility and is more durable than heatshrink, but isn't shrunk on so probably doesn't comply where a waterproof sleeve is required (they make heatshrink with a glue lining that makes it waterproof.)

Apart from hobbyist stores, electrical wholesalers usually carry lots of heatshrink and it's cheap compared to the auto stores if you don't mind buying a couple of metres. The H.O./fibreglass stuff you can buy from electric motor rewind shops. It's great stuff.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mouser components

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 2:50PM
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hrajotte

Add a pigtail to extend the wire that is too short.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 7:16AM
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brickeyee

"Add a pigtail to extend the wire that is too short."

Only allowed if the splice is inside a box.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 2:57PM
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hrajotte

Yeah, no kidding. I hope there's a box, considering the OP is installing a light fixture.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 10:08PM
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brickeyee

"But on this one I accidentally spliced the wire insulation on the fixture wires too short so there is now too much bare wire exposed to where it would join with the receptacle wires."

A spiral warp of Scotch33+ tape leaving the strip length for the wire nut bare is fine.

While only one layer is really needed, it is hard enough to apply and cover completely without practice so just overlap half the tapes width and create a double coverage layer.

The tape must not show outside the box.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:49AM
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hrajotte

I guess I am not seeing the problem correctly.
The OP said the FIXTURE wires are too short. I envision that the supply wires in the box are also shorter than they should be. Coupled with barely enough wire sticking out of the fixture to reach the supply wires when holding the fixture up to the box, and too much insulation stripped off the fixture wires making it impossible to clip some off, a pigtail is a possible solution.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:56AM
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brickeyee

If the fixture wires are short they can be extended as long as the resulting splices are in the box.

Since the OP has not said whet type of fixture, a chandelier (or other pendant fixture) cannot have the down wire extended by splicing.

If the fixture has exposed down wires and they are short, either raise the fixture or replace the entire down wire.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:54PM
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tgmccallie

Could you use the liquid electrical tape to cover this stripped area?

It comes in a variety of colors and can even be used in marine settings.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:07AM
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brickeyee

"Could you use the liquid electrical tape to cover this stripped area?

It comes in a variety of colors and can even be used in marine settings."

Only if it has an NEC listing for the use you want.

It may or may not be allowed for use in structures.

There are lots of things on the market for particular uses that the NEC does not allow.
Manufactured houses (AKA 'mobile homes') have very relaxed wiring standards compared to the NEC and permanent structures.

Different application, different devices.

There are splices made NOT in junction boxes.
Since the expected lifetime of the units is not as long as structures, all sorts of shortcuts are allowed.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 4:15PM
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