What to Do with Unused Live Electrical Wires

In this guide, I will teach you how to dispose of unused hot wires to avert electrical shocks and shorts in your home.

I am a certified electrical engineer with over 15 years of experience and this is important to me because most electrical accidents are caused by untamed hot electrical wires. These problems can easily be avoided by trimming and capping the unused live cables and then safely installing a surface-flush electrical box.

I’ll go into more detail in our article below.

In general, most people will deal with unused live electrical wires by terminating them with caps. First, turn the power off in the breaker unit. Strip the insulation cover to about 0.5 inches and nest them in a wire cap. Then, add duct tape to the wire cap connection. Gently push everything back into the electrical box. Wrap up the experiment by installing a blank wall decal on the box. You are all set. Restore the power.

How to Terminate Unused Electrical Cables with Wire Nuts

unused electrical cables
Video | Helpful DIY

Live wires pose a great danger to people and electrical appliances. Most are in the electrical sockets, boxes, and inside ceiling boards. It’s best to discontinue them with wire nuts to prevent potential problems.

Tools and materials below to get the job done:

  • Wire stripper
  • A non-contact voltage tester
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • A utility knife
  • The electric box
  • Duct tape
  • Wire caps/nuts
  • Blank wall decal

After getting all the necessary equipment, follow the outlined steps below carefully to terminate the hot cables in your electrical fixture, ceiling, or wall.

Step 1: Power Off

At the breaker panel, flip the switch that electrifies the wires you will be working on. Do not work with the power on, especially if you are a beginner. You may be shocked.

Step 2: Prepare the Naked Terminals of the Tires

prepare the naked terminals of the tires

Grab a wire stripper and cut off the naked ends of the hot cables to the insulation coating level – tidying them up.

Then, strip the insulation cover of the wires to about 0.5 inches of clean, straight wire at the terminal.

Step 3: Put the Wire Nuts on The Wires

putting the wire nuts on the wires
Video | Helpful DIY

Get the plastic wire caps and nest them in the bare end of the hot cable. Rotate the wire nut clockwise.

Note: Use the appropriate size wire nut. Too large wire caps may not hold the cable ends well. They can fall off and risk your work. Again, small ones may not hold the wire tightly. So, select the correct size of wire nuts for the task.

You may wonder what to do with the bare copper or ground wires. Well, you do not have to cap them. Additionally, any BX cable’s metal armor sheathing that conducts to the ground doesn’t require termination. (1)

Step 4: Wind Duct Tape to Individual Hot Cables

winding duct tape to individual hot cables
Video | Helpful DIY

A duct tape will reinforce the wire caps on their respective wires. Stretch out the duct tape and wind it on the connection point between the hot cable and the wire nut. Twist enough tape on the connection joints to secure it properly.

Step 5: Insert the Wires into the Box

inserting the wires into the box

Gently push the wires into the electrical box or the ceiling. Then, verify the stability of the connections before you do anything else. Note that exposed copper wires may cause an electrical shock or short when power is restored. Be careful.(2)

Step 6: Add a Blank Wall Decal to the Electrical Box

add a blank wall decal to the electrical box

At this point, you can affix a blank wall decal to the electrical box. Use the screwdriver and the provided screws. Paint over the blank decal if necessary.

Since the capped hot cable is part of the electrical circuit, restore the power. However, if the terminated cables comprise the entire circuit alone, you don’t have to turn on the power.

Wrapping Up

This type of task can be easily accomplished if the drywall has not been installed. In that case, you can trace the wires to the intermediate points, or the starting section. If the intermediate point is another electrical box in the path of the service panel, strip the cables toward the upline electrical box. Then, use that as your termination point. You don’t have to install another electrical box with capped cables and a blank wall decal.  

Take a look at some of our related articles below.




References
(1) metal – https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/metal.htm
(2) copper – https://www.britannica.com/science/copper

Video Reference

About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gI realized early on carpentry was a huge passion for me and I’ve stayed in the industry for over 20 years now. This gives me a unique ability to really be able to tell you what the best tools and recommendations are. I’m not only a carpenter but I also like machinery and anything to do with electrics. One of my career paths starting off was as an apprentice electrician so I also have a lot of experience with electrical products and anything related.