If you have an electrical box with wiring that is too short to make electrical connections to outlets, switches or even another junction box, you will need to add 'pigtails' to the wiring in order to lengthen the wiring so you can use it. A 'pigtail' is simply an extension that is added to a piece of electrical wire and is very easy to make. This simple how-to guide will show you everything you need to know.
Step 1 - Turn Off the Power
Before you do anything, find the main breaker box in your home. Then, locate the breaker switch that provides power to the junction box you want to work on. Once you have located the correct switch, set it to the 'off' position.
Step 2 - Open the Junction Box
Use the screwdriver to remove the screws from the cover plate on the junction box. Set the screws and the cover plate aside as you'll need them later.
Step 3 - Pull Out Wiring
Pull the wiring out through the front of the junction box as must as possible. This will make working with the wiring much easier. When pulling out the wiring, try to separate it and make the wiring as straight as possible.
Step 4 - Measure for Required Length of Pigtails
You'll now need to determine how long the length of the wire extensions you will need to create. So, you should measure the distance from the junction box to where you need to make a connection.
Step 5 - Cut the Pigtail Wiring
After you determine how much wire you will need, use the wire cutters to cut lengths of wire using that measurement. After you've cut the wire, use the wire strippers to strip the both ends of the wire about 1/2 inch.
Step 6 - Connect the Pigtail to Existing Wiring
Take one end of a piece of wire that is just cut and twist it onto one of the pre-existing wires. Do this for all of the wires in the junction box that you want to extend.
Step 7 - Secure and Insulate Wiring with Wire Caps
After you have finished connecting all of the newly created pigtails to the existing wiring in the junction box, take wire caps and twist them onto the connections. This will create a tighter connection and also insulate the new splices from electrical arcs or shorting. Once you secure the wires with wire caps, you can then use them where they are needed.
Step 8 - Finishing Up
Replace the cover plate of the junction box and use the newly created pigtails to install outlets or switches or to run to another junction box.
Step 9 - Switch on the Power
Once you have finished adding the wiring extensions, you can simply go back to the main breaker box and turn the power back on. However, make sure that the ends of the pigtails are either capped with a wire cap or are connected before you do so.