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I had to replace a sink disposal recently. The disposal came with a plug which my setup doesn't have, and I removed it and attached the wires coming from the wall directly to the inside of the machine with wire nuts. I turned it as tightly as I could manage, and the wires don't seem like they'll slip out (I didn't twist the wires because I faced very high resistance.)

However, when I put the cover back on the disposal, I had to press with quite a bit of force. I'm afraid this leaves the wire nuts in a condition where there is some sort of permanent stress on them.

Should I worry about this (i.e., take it back out and shorten the wires in there so the nuts rest more easily)?

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    The cable entry and strain relief for a power cord is different from one for household NM or MC cable. Does your disposal have both types of cable entry port and did you properly mount the cable to the disposal housing? The combination of unskilled wire nutting, poor or absent strain relief, vibration and water creates a lot of dangers.
    – jay613
    Sep 23 at 13:44
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    Is your disposal rated/approved for direct wire and not plug in? If not, it wasn't designed to have sufficient room for the wire nuts inside it. If it was, you should have enough wire to have 3" of the house-side wiring sticking out so you can easily make the connection - don't cut them shorter than that. (I've done it a long time ago, before I knew better. Makes life miserable when rewiring things.)
    – FreeMan
    Sep 23 at 15:12
  • why not install a wall plate socket in the wall so you can utilize the plug?
    – Jayson
    Sep 24 at 0:15

3 Answers 3

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Consider using UL-listed lever nuts such as Wago 221s. IMO they are much better for DIY homeowners than traditional wire nuts.

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To address your main concern, that you have limited space in the small junction box integrated into the disposal: Lever nuts use less space because they avoid creating a large solid bulky mass of twisted wire. The wires can be cut shorter, and after attachment they can rotate within the nut so it's easy to pack the nutted wires flat into the box. They all remain flexible unlike a twisted bunch of wires.

Other advantages: They require no guess work regarding wire length or nut tightness, they do not damage wires nearly as much if removed and replaced for any reason, it is far easier to correct mistakes, they are easier and safer for dissimilar wires (almost certainly true in your case), and they do less damage to old brittle home wiring. They make it easy and (relatively) safe to perform testing on live circuits. It is harder to use the "wrong size" nut because each wire has its own lever and there are only two common sizes of nut.

They require a little practice to develop skill and avoid mistakes but not nearly as much as traditional nuts. They are far more expensive than traditional nuts but for the limited use by a homeowner they would be a bargain at 4 times the price.

Note: Please be sure your disposal is equipped to properly mount home wiring (NM, MC, whatever you have) in place of its power cord and that you do properly mount it! If not, you are FAR better off installing an outlet near by and using the original power cord.

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    Those take a ton of space. Space is OP's problem. Also as a general thing if you're going to cheerleader those Wago 221s... don't forget to warn people off from the look-alikes on Amazon, which are not genuine nor listed nor safe. Saying "lever nuts such as" is the trouble spot there. Sep 23 at 16:41
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica writing compactly is not one of my skills (as you may have noticed) so to avoid making my answers even longer, I omit generic advice like "don't buy crap". And the reason I say "such as" is to throw the Shopping Police off the scent. Otherwise I'd make very specific recommendations or even include links.
    – jay613
    Sep 23 at 16:53
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You may just need to improve your technique. Pressure means stress, and that's to be avoided with both wires and housings.

  • Strip cable jackets to within 1/2" of the box entry clamp
  • Organize wires so they aren't tangled
  • Trim longer ones to roughly match their mates
  • Lay in each set of wires using a gentle S pattern across the back of the box
  • Alternate direction where possible to stagger nuts

The caveat here, as some have mentioned, is that your unit should be rated for direct wiring and have the necessary facilities for it. Sticking NM-B building wire, for example, arbitrarily into an appliance not intended for that isn't wise.

Other tips for using wire nuts:

  • Be sure you have the right size. Each has a specific capacity, and overlarge or undersized ones won't make good electrical contact or allow proper tightening.
  • Lead solid wire with stranded wire slightly to allow for bunching
  • Push gently at first, then harder
  • Pre-twist if your brand of nut calls for it
  • Twist until the wires begin to spiral together
  • Test with a tug on each wire
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    @trawson, an earlier version of my answer mentioned butt-splice connectors, which is what was asked about there. I backed away from that suggestion. Sorry about the confusion.
    – isherwood
    Sep 23 at 20:21
  • @isherwood Oh OK, I see what you mean. I have used the butt splice type a lot for low voltage stuff but that's all. I did not imagine they were UL listed but a little sleuthing on Grainger says there are at least some that are, and rated for 600+V. Whether they can be used in wiring per NEC is a whole other question that I don't know the answer to (and don't plan to do!). Even if they were allowed I imagine there would be specs from the manufacturer as to tools, crimping force, etc.
    – trawson
    Sep 23 at 21:52
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If the wire nuts are firm and tight on the wire with no bare wire exposed it should be fine.

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  • If the wires are kinked, though, they won't be fine.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 23 at 17:01
  • No indication of any kink...just limited space and concern about wirenuts against the cover.
    – RMDman
    Sep 23 at 17:21
  • Wire nuts may be the OP's concern, but kinked wires would be an additional concern that the OP may not be aware of.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 23 at 17:24
  • and all of that is assumptive
    – RMDman
    Sep 23 at 17:27
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    Yes ...and we have no information to assume that there is any other issue other than the question of concern with the cover impacting the wirenuts. We should not read more into the question than is there.
    – RMDman
    Sep 23 at 17:30

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