I'm installing a dimmer light switch but when I opened up the box, I see two ground wires tired together and no pigtail.

I'm wondering what I should do with that?

inside the junction box showing wiring including twisted, bare grounds

  • Does your dimmer have screw terminals or wire leads? Dec 3 '21 at 4:15
  • Screw terminals Dec 3 '21 at 4:17
  • 1
    @DrMoishePippik a wire nut on the end of the bare grounds will do nothing to keep the rest of the wire away from anything else. This is (to the best of my knowledge, in standard 120V residential wiring in the US) a 100% code-compliant installation. Also, as well twisted as those grounds are, they ain't coming apart without a fair bit of effort with the linesman's pliers - I've had to untwist wires like that more than once - it takes intentional effort to separate them. [cont...]
    – FreeMan
    Dec 3 '21 at 15:01
  • 1
    Additionally, it's the hot & neutral that should be protected at all times from touching anything else in the box. If there's any bare wire sticking out from under a wire nut or an extra bit of bare wire sticking past the device where the wire is screwed down, those situations need to be corrected, not the grounds.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 3 '21 at 15:02

Add a pigtail

Since you have a screw terminal on your new switch, you'll need a piece of bare or green insulated* wire (about 6" long) and a wire nut.

Pull those bare wires from the back of the box and use the wire nut (make sure it's the proper size - Red, I believe, is the proper size for three #14 or #12 wires) to attach your short piece of ground wire to this bundle, then push the bundle back into the corner.

On the other end of your newly attached wire, bend a shepherd's hook. Place this around the green ground screw of your new device (make sure that it goes clockwise from the long end to the short end of the hook) and tighten it down with your torque screwdriver. If you don't have a torque screwdriver, tighten it down really tight.

Connect the rest of the wiring as you planned and you're done.

* If you don't happen to have any bare or green insulated wire, you can cut a piece of black or white insulated wire, strip the end, then pull the wire out of the insulation. Congrats! You've now got a piece of bare wire suitable for use as a ground. You could also wrap some green tape around the insulation to remark it for use as a ground.

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