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intermittent electrical cable run

Posted by razman (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 20:53

how do I find a junction box on a cable run. The feed to my bedroom ceiling lights is intermittent. The house has a prior history of this type of problem.

About six years ago or so, I had a similar issue with a different light circuit. This part of the house was built about 25 years ago. The electrical connection within the various junction boxes are NOT joined with wire nuts. Instead, they are joined with a crimped sleeve.

The crimped sleeves do not present a strong electrical connection. In a prior incident, I traced a faulty circuit to a junction box in the ceiling rafters. Upon inspection, the wires within the junction box burned through the crimped sleeve creating an open. I removed the residue, trimmed back the wires, and then joined them with a quality wire nut. Problem solved.

In the above instance, I was able to crawl around the attic looking around in the vicinity of the ceiling lights for the junction box, In this instance, the room as a cathedral ceiling and the "rafters" are not available from above. Also in this instance, the lights come on and go off whenever they choose to do so.

Now what do I do? I will need to access the junction box... wherever it is, from below, meaning cutting through the ceiling.

I suspect that modern code would suggest that a junction box cannot be hidden in this manner, but the guy did use crimped sleeves for the wiring.

I am open to suggestions as to where the junction box might be and how to find it.

Additional info:

1. there are three lights in the ceiling circuit, which complicates the issue.

2. I bypassed the on/off switch entirely to eliminate it as an issue.

3. The circuit breaker does not appear to be a thermal device.

4. Each ceiling light does have a thermal device within the recessed can, but I cannot think that an overheat on one light would shut down all three.

Thanks for reading.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

The crimped sleves are only to be used on the ground wires. I have to ask, how are they being insulated? Uh oh, I have to ask, are the crimped sleves used because you have aluminum wiring? In that case you need to do things very differently.


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

I remember by Dad (via my uncle who was the family "electrician") had some kind of crimp connectors with a little rubber boot type of thing that went over the connection. I'm pretty sure that they are used in my Mom's house. That work probably dates from the late 60's or early 70's.

She's also has some of the old cloth covered NM with the undersized ground.


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

Crimp sleeves are used with any conductors that are included with the UL listing. The insulating device is by Ideal, called a Wrap-Cap. Fast and effective.
As with all other devices, the crimp sleeves are very effective if properly installed. Used improperly, trouble often follows.

It is troubling that people post wrong information on these forums. Is it ignorance or malice?
To use crimp sleeves properly, place all the wire ends into the sleeve with enough excess protruding to grasp with pliers and twist the wires. Then crimp the sleeve WITH THE PROPER TOOL, then cut off the excess wire and insulate. I have seen electrician crimp the sleeve with the cutting edge of their pliers --WRONG!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ideal

This post was edited by bus_driver on Wed, Nov 27, 13 at 8:36


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

bus_driver wrote:
"It is troubling that people post wrong information on these forums. Is it ignorance or malice?
To use crimp sleeves properly, place all the wire ends into the sleeve with enough excess protruding to grasp with pliers and twist the wires. Then crimp the sleeve WITH THE PROPER TOOL, then cut off the excess wire and insulate. I have seen electrician crimp the sleeve with the cutting edge of their pliers --WRONG!"

Have you really ran into insulated crimp sleves on residential installs from the 1980's? In 20+ years in the industry, the only crimp sleves I run into in resi from that era are:
1. Ground wire crimps
2. copalum crimps to pigtail from aluminum building wire to copper device tails

Unless the op responds I guess we'll never know what the situation is.


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

Now we see obfuscation. The point is not how often one may or may not see crimp barrel sleeves used in a residence. The point is that when one does see them, it is important that they not be misinformed into believing that they are not proper to use for that application. And the post by :

" Posted by btharmy (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 26, 13 at 17:48

The crimped sleves are only to be used on the ground wires."
is false and does not truthfully represent the facts.
What if someone used that bad information and proceeded to remove all the crimped sleeves from their residence for that reason?


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

bus_driver posted:

"What if someone used that bad information and proceeded to remove all the crimped sleeves from their residence for that reason?"

Well, I suppose if what the op posted is in fact true "The crimped sleeves do not present a strong electrical connection. In a prior incident, I traced a faulty circuit to a junction box in the ceiling rafters. Upon inspection, the wires within the junction box burned through the crimped sleeve creating an open." then I would recommend removing all the crimps and installing wire nuts. It is obvious whoever installed the crimps did not use the proper methods of crimping. Otherwise the connections would be solid and not failing. But hey, I can only presume based on the limited and incomplete information given. Again, I have NEVER seen crimps used for circuit conductors other than grounds in ANY residential install. Yes, there are crimps available for use as wire connections other than grounds. If that is your gripe then im fine with that. If it is common where you live then congradulations. However, the condescending demeanor is not warranted. If someone randomly removes all the crimps in their house for no other reason than they read a random response on a random DIY forum one day then I really don't care if they do it or not. They are obviously not of sound mind.


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

"I really don't care if they do it or not."
I suggest that all who read his posts take heed.


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

" Yes, there are crimps available for use as wire connections other than grounds."
Ideal has been producing the #410 sleeves, the #415 Wrap-Cap and T&B has been producing the # PT-70 sleeve for over 50 years. Other than twisting and soldering, these offer the most compact splicing methods, requiring less room in the box than wire nuts. And attention to detail is also required for good wire nut connections.
I really do care.

This post was edited by bus_driver on Thu, Nov 28, 13 at 7:17


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

Well... Although two of you are now engaged in a back-and-forth, I, the original poster, am no closer to a solution or a path to a solution.

1. The feed wires throughout that part of the house are indeed connected via a crimped sleeve. The most I've seen within a single connector is three wires.

2. The crimped wires are protected by a rubber cap... a place over/under type of deal. The caps work well.

3. The wires in the crimped sleeve are straight, not twisted. Said another way, they are parallel to each other like pickets in a fence.

4. If I take off a rubber cap and grab a wire, it will move within the crimping. If that's not a damning indictment I don't know what is.

5. Yes, I did "repair" a burned through connection years ago. The crimp burned through and lost its ability to hold the wires. The wires separated. The circuit went open. The rubber cap also partially burned. This all happened inside a junction box so the "fire" was contained.

6. I would still appreciate some guidance if your fight is over.

7. I understand (loosely) that it is against zoning to hide a junction box where it cannot be serviced. Is this true?

8. Again, three ceiling lights in recessed cans. There is no access to a crawl space above them due to a cathedral ceiling.

9. If you have a question, ask. I'll answer. From reading your replies it as if I am making this up and that I am some mythical creature creating a post for my own amusement.

This post was edited by razman on Thu, Nov 28, 13 at 12:03


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

"3. The wires in the crimped sleeve are straight, not twisted. Said another way, they are parallel to each other like pickets in a fence. "
If you read my post you would know that this is not by any means a proper connection.
To further explain my earlier post, placing the sleeve over the conductors and then twisting is necessary as the twisting often increases the diameter too much to permit placing the sleeve. The twisting makes the connection, the sleeve when crimped insures the longevity of the connection.
Your connections were not done properly and must be completely replaced.
I could find no online videos showing the correct procedure-- but they may exist.

This post was edited by bus_driver on Thu, Nov 28, 13 at 13:14


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

I am well aware that the connections were done incorrectly 20 years ago. That is a done deal. I understand that.

I'll keep this simple.

Knowing it is a cathedral ceiling light circuit, where is my open circuit? And I'm asking as if the circuit were wired to code.


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

I understand (loosely) that it is against zoning to hide a junction box where it cannot be serviced. Is this true?

Yes. But it doesn't mean that it wasn't done.

Some questions that might help:

Do you know if the switch is hooked up to the circuit as a switch loop or does the power come to the switch first and then out to the lights?

You said that you bypassed the switch to confirm that the switch wasn't a problem. If it's a circuit where the power comes the the switch first, have you narrowed down the problem to know that it is definitely AFTER the switch?

If the problem is after the switch, unhook the last two lights so that only the first light is hooked up. Is there still a problem?

Basically, what I'm trying to get at is that you have to start unhooking things until you know that the problem is between point X and point Y. There's no point in digging into the ceiling if the problem ends up being between the switch and an outlet down by the floor.


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

First, thanks for the reply. I appreciate that you are taking a stab at helping me with this. I do appreciate that you are the first to actually address the problem I am having. I do appreciate that.

YOU ASKED: Do you know if the switch is hooked up to the circuit as a switch loop or does the power come to the switch first and then out to the lights?

The feed (hot line) starts at the switch. Whether the ceiling lights are working or not, the switch is hot. At the moment, the lights are not working, but I can rig a test light at the switch and turn it on and off.

YOU ASKED: ...have you narrowed down the problem to know that it is definitely AFTER the switch?

Yes, by using the test light rig that I mentioned above. I rigged a light between the output of the switch and the return line from the lights.

YOU ASKED: If the problem is after the switch, unhook the last two lights so that only the first light is hooked up. Is there still a problem?

Once the light again decides to work, I'll try that. I am also going to investigate each can over this weekend to discover whatever I can discover.

YOU ASKED: There's no point in digging into the ceiling if the problem ends up being between the switch and an outlet down by the floor.

I certainly agree with that. I -think- I have it narrowed down to after the switch, meaning that the problem is with the hot going up or the common coming down. If the lights start working again (they do work intermittently), I will try to isolate to a single light.

Thanks again. Rich


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

I found the problem. I decided to remove the ceiling light fixture (recessed can) completely, expecting to find an accessible junction box nearby, which I did find. I opened the box and found a taped connection, which I did not expect. I expected the rubber cap device. I flexed the taped connection and the lights came on. I shut down the feed and removed the tape. WoW. Talk about incompetent! I found two wires joined by a clip. I found a third wire, the feed from the switch, connected to NOTHING. Whoever installed the house wiring apparently neglected to include the feed in the clip. When he discovered his error, instead of removing and installing a new clip, he merely taped the loose wire against the clip with electrical tape. There was NO physical connection at all. I included a link to a picture. I removed the clip and twisted the three wires together and installed a wire nut. All now works.

Here is a link that might be useful: Not In Clip

This post was edited by razman on Tue, Dec 10, 13 at 13:54


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RE: intermittent electrical cable run

This is the reason that I insisted that the old connections needed to be redone. I fully expected a poor connection to be the problem.


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