I have to replace wiring in a power meter box in an apartment building. There're four really beefy wires running vertically through the whole building and each wire has a short stripped segment inside the meter box and a steel connector is attached to the stripped part. Each connector consists of two plates aligned in parallel and the wire is placed between them and as the plates are connected with screws they are forced onto the wire and have electrical contact with the wire.

Each plate also has extra holes with threading and I have to attach branch wires that go to the actual load to the connector by warping a ring on the branch wire end and attaching that ring to the hole on the connector with a screw.

The problem is the connectors surface is of recognizable almost black color that steel parts get when they are exposed to mild humid air for long time - looks like result of oxidation treatment. I suppose this is not very good for electrical contact and I have to clean the connector surface where a wire will touch it.

How do I clean a steel connector surface? Do I just use fine sandpaper or do I need anything else?

  • 1
    Are these beefy wires live?
    – Tester101
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 13:24
  • 1
    So, you want to clean the live contacts?
    – Tester101
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 14:51
  • 1
    Will they be live while you do the cleaning?
    – ChrisF
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 15:30
  • 7
    Ok. Its 13 hours later. You still alive? Commented Nov 19, 2011 at 1:40
  • 3
    What are you doing in a meter box? That is usually sealed and tagged by the power company. Working on live primary lines is a real risky adventure. If you removed the seal, you may have some issues with the power company next time they come to read the meter. Hope you survived it, remember the neutral carries as much current as the hot. Commented Nov 19, 2011 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


As long as you make sure that the terminals are not live then fine emery cloth should remove the patina.

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