DEAR MIKE: I am selling my home and the buyer had a home inspection done. The inspector found a few small items that need to be fixed. One item that needs to be fixed is in the attic. Apparently, there is an area where two wires connect that are not protected. What is involved with this repair? -- Steve M.
DEAR STEVE: This repair is inexpensive. You will need a junction box (called a J-box) with a cover, some cable clamps and some wire nuts.
Before you start the job, turn off the power to the cable at the main panel. Use a neon tester to make sure that the power is off. Disconnect the wires where they are spliced.
You will install a metal J-box at this splice. The box will have small holes in it or ears extending past it to allow you to screw it to the framing. The only problem you may run into is if there is not enough slack in the cable to allow you to make safe connections inside the box.
You want to have enough wire to extend about 8 inches inside the box. If there is not enough wire, you will have to add pigtails to lengthen them. A pigtail is a length of wire that is attached using a wire nut. The pigtail must be the same gauge and color as the circuit wire you are lengthening. In some cases, you may have to add two J-boxes and run a length of cable in between them.
The J-box will have precut holes (called knockouts) to allow the cable to enter the box. Use a hammer and screwdriver to open one knockout for each cable that will be entering the box. Use a cable clamp to secure the cable to the box. Slip a clamp over the wires and about an inch over the cable's sheathing so that when the cable is secured, you will have an inch of sheathing inside the box and 8 inches of wire.
Tighten the clamp over the sheathing so that it is snug but not so tight that it damages the sheathing. Push the cable into the knockout hole and thread a locknut over the cable and onto the threads of the cable clamp. Finger tighten the locknut and then fully tighten it by pushing on the lugs of the locknut with a screwdriver.
Use wire nuts to connect the wires. Connect the white neutral wires together and then the black hot wires together. Pigtail a ground wire to the green screw in the back of the box and then connect the bare copper wires from the cables to this pigtail.
Gently tuck the wires into the box and attach the box cover. Turn the power back on and get ready to close escrow.