How to Terminate Electrical Wires

wire nuts image by Paul Moore from

If you are removing a switch or an electrical socket, you must remember to safely terminate the wires. Replacing the faceplate with a blank is not sufficient to prevent injury or an electrical fire. It is also a violation of building codes in most locations. It is quick and easy to terminate electrical wires using small wire nuts, with just a few safety precautions. Just remember to test the circuit with an electrical tester, even if you have turned off the power at the circuit breaker.

Turn off the power to the circuit at the circuit breaker.

Unscrew the faceplate to access the electrical box where the wires are located.

Hold the circuit tester probes by the insulated parts, not the metal probe tips.

Touch the black probe tip to the grounding connector of the electrical box. Touch the red probe tip to the hot wire, which is usually sheathed in black or red insulation. If the circuit is live, the tester will signal the presence of electricity, usually by illuminating, beeping, or both. If this happens, you must locate the correct circuit breaker or contact a licensed electrician for assistance.

Disconnect the switch or outlet you are removing.

Twist one wire nut clockwise onto each individual wire. Ensure that the conductor is completely covered. Wrap the wire nut and wire with electrical tape.

Tuck the wires carefully back into the electrical box. Screw a blank electrical faceplate over the electrical box.

Turn on the circuit breaker.

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