ELECTRICAL ROUGH IN – Ripping Out Switches

After you’ve roughed-in all of your wires you need to start “ripping-out” all of your devices to get them ready for inspection and device installation (trim-out). Let’s see how we rip out single-pole switches.

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A single pole switch only requires a single hot conductor, a single switch leg conductor, and a single equipment grounding conductor (ground). So if we have 3 pieces of 12/2 romex coming into a box the intention of our rip-out is to reduce the number of conductors to one of each type. Switches don’t use neutrals (unless they’re electronic or digital) so we just make these up and fold them into the back of the box.

The first thing I do is rip the sheathing off of the 12/2 and get all the paper pulled off so all I have are conductors showing. Then I gather all of the grounds together and twist them together, giving myself around 4-5 inches outside of the box before clipping the excess off. We need to reduce these 3 wires down to one, so you’re going to pick your two shortest grounds and cut them off.

Then. we stick a green wire nut on the bunch and fold it into the back of the box. Then we start working with the neutrals. We combine all three of them and fold them into the box to measure how short we need to cut them. Then we pull them back out and strip the ends off of each conductor. Next, we use our lineman’s pliers to twist the ends together and put a wire nut on them, then fold them into the back of the box.

Now we address the hots, but rather than just joining them together, we need to add a pigtail so we’re reducing two wires down to one. We use a piece of black #12 wire for this by stripping both ends of their insulation. We stick one end with the other two hots and twist them together with our lineman’s pliers and put a wire nut on the group. Now we have one hot to work with. The last thing is to take the single hot, single leg, and single ground that remain and fold them neatly into the box so they can easily be pulled out later and a switch be installed on these wires.