Torque for receptacles and switches

mlnk

Senior Member
Does the 2017 NEC require torquing receptacle/ switch connections with a torque screwdriver or other calibrated tool? It is not printed on the devices or the shipping boxes, but I have seen specs for Leviton residential devices as 12 -14 inch pounds, and I believe Leviton commercial devices are 20 inch pounds. I have seen Hubble specs at 9-12 inch lbs for residential devices. Everyone agrees that circuit breakers and panel terminals should be torqued because it is printed on the breakers and panel labels. I am having a discussion about this with the building inspector. I have been torquing all terminations for several years and find it can be done rapidly and like feeling confident about the connections, but is it a Code requirement?
 

jusme123

Senior Member
Location
NY
Kind of a ridiculous requirement, considering they allow back stabbing of receptacles. I’d bet most (95%+) receptacles have never felt a torque screwdriver
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Kind of a ridiculous requirement, considering they allow back stabbing of receptacles. I’d bet most (95%+) receptacles have never felt a torque screwdriver
back stabbed connections there is no adjustments, push in and you are done

screw terminal you have a wide range of possibilities of where you leave the screw. Even if you don't tighten to a specific level, you typically do tighten to something you may at least call "snug" which is much more effective than just wrapping the conductor around the screw and hoping it is enough.
 

mlnk

Senior Member
I believe the NEC section is 110.14 (D) Which gets my vote as the most violated section of the Code. BTW, some electricians think torque tools should be re-calibrated each year, but the Code just says "calibrated" which means the factory calibration certificate is all you need.
 

mlnk

Senior Member
Back stab connections, even when limited to #14 wire, have a terrible reputation. So why do Wago, or other brands of stab in splicing blocks have a good reputation? They both seem to use the same method of connection.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
Kind of a ridiculous requirement, considering they allow back stabbing of receptacles. I’d bet most (95%+) receptacles have never felt a torque screwdriver
That does it make kind of ridiculous I agree. Most guys using the side screws us a power tool anyway so chances are that they're tight. I use an impact gun and finish with a screwdriver. If the connection is over tightened how will someone even know?
 

Knuckle Dragger

Master Electrician Electrical Contractor 01752
Location
Marlborough, Massachusetts USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
For what it's worth.
I have a couple of customers in a residential development (built in the late 90's) when I went to troubleshoot an open circuit it was a switch that was in pieces. It could have been over torqued or a flaw in the manufacturers line at the time.
I typically use an impact gun and hand torque or adjust the clutch to my liking on my screw gun and hand torque.
I have never used a torque wrench on residential devices.
 

sw_ross

Senior Member
Location
NoDak
Not to hi-jack this torquing conversation,
Yesterday I ran a couple new circuits for a store that was upgrading from wall mounted A/C units to PTAC units. Since the ckt size was the same I re-used the existing breakers. The breakers were at least 10 years old. Maybe I should've updated the breakers, but at the time I didn't see a reason to do so.

Anyways it had me thinking about torquing.
If you're re-terminating a terminal that probably has never been properly torqued to begin with and has been there for a number of years, then you reterminate new wire on the terminals, regardless of if it was a device or a breaker, can you expect any issues with torque values? Could the threads of the terminals be somewhat stressed to the point that the torque values aren't accurate?

Another way of stating my question, when do you know that the screw terminals of an existing breaker are "worn out" enough to not use the breaker, other than having stripped out threads on the existing breaker. Or maybe just plan to not re-terminate older breakers and upgrade to new always?
 

retirede

Senior Member
Location
Illinois
Not to hi-jack this torquing conversation,
Yesterday I ran a couple new circuits for a store that was upgrading from wall mounted A/C units to PTAC units. Since the ckt size was the same I re-used the existing breakers. The breakers were at least 10 years old. Maybe I should've updated the breakers, but at the time I didn't see a reason to do so.

Anyways it had me thinking about torquing.
If you're re-terminating a terminal that probably has never been properly torqued to begin with and has been there for a number of years, then you reterminate new wire on the terminals, regardless of if it was a device or a breaker, can you expect any issues with torque values? Could the threads of the terminals be somewhat stressed to the point that the torque values aren't accurate?

Another way of stating my question, when do you know that the screw terminals of an existing breaker are "worn out" enough to not use the breaker, other than having stripped out threads on the existing breaker. Or maybe just plan to not re-terminate older breakers and upgrade to new always?
The torque required is a function of the compression of the conductor.
The only way old threads could have an effect would be if they’re severely corroded, in which case it will require a non-negligible amount of torque to turn the screw with no conductor present.

IMO, the threads are not going to wear. They either work or you’ll be able to tell easily if there’s going to be a problem.
 

mlnk

Senior Member
If the old connections can take the proper torque, you have to assume that they are not damaged from previous overtorquing.
 

RAKocher

Senior Member
Location
SE Pennsylvania
I always thought knowing just how tight is tight enough by the feel was one of the skills of the trade, and the stated torque value was for the Apes that'll twist the head off a lug bolt if you don't watch em!
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
I believe the NEC section is 110.14 (D) Which gets my vote as the most violated section of the Code. BTW, some electricians think torque tools should be re-calibrated each year, but the Code just says "calibrated" which means the factory calibration certificate is all you need.
Assuming, of course, that there is nothing in the manufacturer's literature about periodic re-calibration.
 

jusme123

Senior Member
Location
NY
How would it be checked? About all they can do is ask you to show them your torque screwdriver. This is really non-enforceable.

-Hal
Its enforceable, I’ve had to prove breakers where torqued by retorting in the presence of an inspector/EE. If we know that the torque is going to be inspected, we will only leave lugs finger tip tight, and actually do the torquing in front of inspector and also mark lug as torqued
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Its enforceable, I’ve had to prove breakers where torqued by retorting in the presence of an inspector/EE. If we know that the torque is going to be inspected, we will only leave lugs finger tip tight, and actually do the torquing in front of inspector and also mark lug as torqued
My gripe here is when are some of these so called authorities going to let go of the fact that they can't inspect "everything"

I have no problem with spot check of some things here and there but some describe things to the point of about needing an inspector on every crew to check that every locknut, compression nut, and termination is properly tightened, and even want to see every buried conductor, raceway, etc and verify that there isn't even 1/4" too little cover over every inch of the run.

Then on top of all this if something actually was missed in their inspection they still aren't responsible for it.

Don't get me wrong if you leave enough clues that you don't necessarily like to follow the rules then it is fair game for them to start to look a little harder for finding things that are wrong IMO.
 
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