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Old 07-15-2012, 03:59 PM   #1
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


Hi everyone. I just moved into my first home (built in 1966), and I am updating most of the outlets. I am a total novice with electrical projects, so I have been learning on the fly.

The house has no GFCI's inside, so I was just about to put one in the bathroom when I ran into something unexpected. The outlet has one hot black wire and 2 white neutrals. The 2 neutrals are connected to the same post, leaving one post open.

Is this a problem? Can I simply connect one neutral to each post on the new GFCI? If so, does it matter which one goes on the load and which goes on the line?

This is the only outlet in the bathroom, but I know the circuit contains the bathroom lights, ceiling lights in the basement, and one outlet in the living room.

2nd photo added:

2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?-brad-phone-pics-284.jpg

2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?-brad-phone-pics-283.jpg


Last edited by brad34; 07-15-2012 at 04:28 PM. Reason: 2nd photo added.
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:20 PM   #2
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


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Originally Posted by brad34 View Post
Hi everyone. I just moved into my first home (built in 1966), and I am updating most of the outlets. I am a total novice with electrical projects, so I have been learning on the fly.

The house has no GFCI's inside, so I was just about to put one in the bathroom when I ran into something unexpected. The outlet has one hot black wire and 2 white neutrals. The 2 neutrals are connected to the same post, leaving one post open.

Is this a problem? Can I simply connect one neutral to each post on the new GFCI? If so, does it matter which one goes on the load and which goes on the line? Attachment 54165

This is the only outlet in the bathroom, but I know the circuit contains the bathroom lights, ceiling lights in the basement, and one outlet in the living room.
Can you take another picture with and camera straight on inside the box, pull the device to the side... I'm curious on this one.

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Old 07-15-2012, 04:30 PM   #3
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


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Can you take another picture with and camera straight on inside the box, pull the device to the side... I'm curious on this one.
I had one ready to go for you

As you can see, the yellow wire just runs through the box and isn't connected to the outlet. The hot wire is connected to the top post if that matters.
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:31 PM   #4
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


The white wire is "feeding through" onto the next outlet. "Daisy-chain" fashion it is called. (Note! Turn off the power before you do this, and it is best to turn off all the power because another circuit may be sharing the white wire, (or neutral as it would then be called)).
With the power off, you will need to "pigtail" the white wire.(I.e., take the white wire off of the outlet screw, and cut it in two, (half way where it is stripped). Cut back the two ends about half an inch to get rid of the old, bent (work hardened) copper wire, and strip about three quarters of an inch of insulation from both ends of the white wires. Take at minimum of 6 inches (preferably 8 inches) of new white wire, (same gauge) and strip the same amount from one end. Using a "Lineman's" pliers, line up the three stripped white wire ends, and gently twist the three ends together with no more than three spirals. Trim the ends so that they are even, and remove the bur at the ends of the trimmed wires... Now, screw on the wire-nut until it is tight and just starts to twist the white wires that you are holding.
You have "pigtailed" the neutral (white) wires. Now you have a black and a white wire. Attach these two wires to the "Line Side" of the GFCI outlet. (Note! Don't forget to attach a ground wire).
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:31 PM   #5
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


I'm not an electrician. But can you hook up a GFCI without a ground?
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:33 PM   #6
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


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I'm not an electrician. But can you hook up a GFCI without a ground?
Yes, the equipment ground serves no purpose in the GFCIs ability to function. And this serves as an alternative to replacing 2 wire receptacles.
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:38 PM   #7
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


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I had one ready to go for you

As you can see, the yellow wire just runs through the box and isn't connected to the outlet. The hot wire is connected to the top post if that matters.
As already stated, de-energize the circuit before you cut that neutral to add a pigtail, otherwise you might let the smoke out of any electronics that are sharing that neutral.
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:41 PM   #8
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


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I'm not an electrician. But can you hook up a GFCI without a ground?
Im betting the box IS grounded by the way.
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:42 PM   #9
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


I was going to ask what the yellow wire was and why I only see one.. but with me not having much electrical knowledge I didn't want to sound like a dummy
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:45 PM   #10
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


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I was going to ask what the yellow wire was and why I only see one.. but with me not having much electrical knowledge I didn't want to sound like a dummy
No worries, the first picture really had me confused on to what the hell was going on....
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:46 PM   #11
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


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Im betting the box IS grounded by the way.
An outlet tester shows the outlet as grounded. So I believe you are correct. I will be running a green ground wire from the outlet to the box, fastened with a screw.
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Old 07-15-2012, 04:48 PM   #12
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


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An outlet tester shows the outlet as grounded. So I believe you are correct. I will be running a green ground wire from the outlet to the box, fastened with a screw.
Either that or buy self grounding receptacles, either is a permissible method...
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Old 07-15-2012, 05:41 PM   #13
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


it look like they ran the romex right through the box and just stripped a section in the middle.

what IS the yellow wire for or did that get answered?

something just doesn't look right there, wires don't add up
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Old 07-15-2012, 05:45 PM   #14
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


Looks to me like it's in condut; the yellow wire is a hot passing through, the white is the neutral, also passing through after stopping at the receptacle, and the black is a hot dedicated to that receptacle.
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Old 07-15-2012, 05:45 PM   #15
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2 Neutrals and 1 Hot Wire?


Now a real electrician asked and I don't feel like a dummy

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