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I am installing smart switches throughout house. Many of the existing switches are not grounded. The boxes are plastic not metal. I encountered this crimp and grounding wire. If I cut it above the crimp they are too short to even connect with push in connectors. I can cut it and extend each wire individually with its own push in connector and then use a wire nut to pigtail off of it to go to the light switch but I feel like that takes so much space in the box. Is there a better way to do this?

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  • I would use a sharp pair of diagonal cutters and clip the crimp, i then would pigtail a new piece of wire from those 2 and put a new crimp on. 1 wire ~4” or longer if you like connected to those 2 currently connected together. I have not seen many of the push blocks used in the US but believe backstabbing or the failures paid for at least 1 kids college.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 29 at 23:59
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Could you possibly get in there with a small rotary abrasive disk tool (something like a Dremel tool, with Dremel 426 1-1/4" Fiberglass Reinforced Cut-off Wheels or the like) to cut off the steel crushed-can? I think that would be ideal, but finding the right tool to just zip through that might be rough.

You could also try end cutting pliers, but the jaws would have to be aligned correctly so as to cut through the crimped steel, but slide between during the cut to separate and not damage the copper underneath.

But remember, those grounds need to remain tied together or some socket won't have a ground. So you could, say, run one to plug A, and run the other to plug B, and bridge A and B so the whole chain remains connected. That's probably more hassle than my next idea.

If none of that works, personally? I'd fill the steel crimp with flux, then with solder, and I'd tin then solder on two sections of wire from there. This way you know it's going to stay connected, there's no extra wire nuts in the way, and you also further electrically secure that ground connection. Win win win. I don't personally like crimp connectors of any kind, though I realize that one is likely significantly stronger than some I've worked with.

SOLDERING LIKE THIS IS AGAINST NEC; MY MISTAKE - DON'T DO IT unless you were to nut and bolt the connections together first, as that's mechanically bonding.

Best of luck!

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  • Soldering isn't going to work here -- see NEC 250.148(E) for details. Trying to get the crimp off is going to be a pain too -- if it's crimped properly, it won't just detach from the underlying wires Jun 26 at 16:41
  • Oh, gotcha, electrical code says no solder alone and they must be mechanically secured first. My bad, I didn't realize. I think that's entirely stupid... If solder melts at 350C... and your ground conductor is 350C.... the building is on fire already. At this point, electrical connections are free of all their toxic PVC coverings anyway and shorts will happen everywhere... This was a dumb addition probably added to stop people using leaded solder in homes and had nothing to do with actual safety.. and you have to buy the updated codes every year, right? Something has to get added.
    – Jimmio92
    Jun 26 at 16:53
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    I have successfully used side cutters (dykes) to cut along the length of the crimp, open it up and remove it. Sometimes, you need to open up the crimp with a small strong object like a punch or nail. I've also held the wires with a pair of pliers and drove a small screw into the crimp to open it up. It's all a pain, but it can be done. Jun 26 at 16:56
  • @Jimmio92 -- no, it's more that a "hard" fault can create a temperature spike in the grounding wire well above the melting point of solder, and that EGC connection needs to hold up long enough for the breaker to clear the fault Jun 26 at 20:00
  • Ah, okay.. I'm understanding the reasoning now, thanks. Surge currents from inductive loads and the like could instantly liquefy the metal and break the bonds. Probably caused a disaster. I did edit to note that soldering alone shouldn't be done because I legitimately didn't realize that.
    – Jimmio92
    Jun 27 at 16:58

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