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-   -   3 Wire Set Up . . . Neutral Wire Tied to Ground Wires (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/3-wire-set-up-neutral-wire-tied-ground-wires-84463/)

irishMonster 10-20-2010 02:35 PM

3 Wire Set Up . . . Neutral Wire Tied to Ground Wires
 
A month ago, in a rush to clear out the kitchen of appliances for the installation of new countertops, I forgot to take a photo of the electrical wiring setup before I removed the stovetop.

Now a month later I look at junction box #1 under the island and I see a white neutral wire tied to 2 ground wires (power to the stovetop has been shut off the entire time). Is there a logical reason for this? I am 99% positive that in my haste to remove the appliance I accidentally tied the neutral wire to the ground, but want to make sure.

Power comes into the house from the circuit box, 30 amp breaker into a junction box #1 underneath the island 3 copper wires (black, white, ground). This is where the white neutral is screwed to the ground wire. From this box I hook up the stovetop, and another set of wire runs to a second junction box #2 with a fuse that is connected to an outlet.

The Neutral Wire is connected to it's a neutral wire in Junction box #2, but is tied to the ground wires in junction box #1. I should also note that I have not touched the wiring in junction box #2, only in junction box #1.

If my theory is correct that I accidentally tied the neutral to the ground wire; then the connection makes perfect sense to me because I am just connecting black to black, white to white, etc . . . but I have found some strange electrical set ups in this house already.

Any thoughts would be appreciated,
Shawn

jbfan 10-20-2010 02:41 PM

What are the specs on the cooktop.
Is the 30 amp breaker a 2 pole breaker?
If this is 240 volt, you have an unsafe setup!

irishMonster 10-20-2010 04:39 PM

It's a 2 pole breaker and the stovetop is 240 volt.

I am thinking of simplifying the situation by disconnecting the wiring to the outlet all together; so the power would only go to the stovetop.

McSteve 10-20-2010 05:13 PM

Uh, yeah. If all you have are a white, black, and ground, and it's coming from a double-pole breaker, than that white isn't a neutral, it's another hot. That's a 240V-only circuit. It almost sounds like the other outlet you're talking about was set up to use the ground as a neutral, which is dangerous and horribly illegal.

sirsparksalot 10-20-2010 05:49 PM

irish, please look at JB#1 and tell us how many wires are running there, what are the colors, and how are they currently connected.

Also, if you can, what's going on in JB# 2.

AND, when you say it's going to a fuse and an outlet, do you really mean a breaker, or do you have an actual fuse panel?

McSteve 10-20-2010 05:56 PM

If I'm not mistaken, I think the OP is saying that there's an inline fuseholder and outlet tapped off the stovetop circuit.

irishMonster 10-20-2010 07:24 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Thanks for your help guys. I took some photos to help explain:

JB #1 has 6 wires total
2 white (NOT connected)
2 black (connected)
2 ground (connected with 1 white)
the white that is by itself in the right side of the photo is from the breaker

JB #2 The picture of the fuse is on JB #2
7 wires TOTAL
2 white (connected)
2 black (connected)
3 ground (connected)

I took some voltage readings in the current configuration (the stovetop is not hooked up):
JB #1 is around 240 Volts
JB#2 around 120 Volts

Shawn

sirsparksalot 10-20-2010 07:44 PM

well, my limited knowledge would dictate that in JB1, that bare ground has to come off and connect to the other bare ground, and the two whites connected together.

In JB2, I can't really tell if the bare ground is connected to the yellow wirenut. It looks like it's simply from the 10/3 w/grnd cable, and that it needs to be connected to the bare ground as it appears to be under the red wirenut. It looks okay to me, except that is that white wire coming from the top right intentionally painted with a red marker?

Please don't make any changes based on what I've said yet. Let's get the pros in here.

rjniles 10-20-2010 08:05 PM

Every thing past the first junction box needs to be removed. Someone has tapped a 120 volt circuit off the range circuit using the bare ground as a neutral for the receptacle. They tried to make it safe by adding a 20 amp inline fuse. It is not safe and should be disconnected. Find another circuit to feed the receptacle. If the receptacle is also in the kitchen it must be GFCI protected and 20 amps.

Back to the cook-top circuit. Is the cook-top 240 volt or is it 120/240 volt? Check the name plate on the unit. Is it 30 amps or less. Again the name plate will state the amperage. If the unit is straight 240 and 30 amps or less you can use the existing cable. If it 120/240 or more than 30 amps, you need to rewire back to the panel.

sirsparksalot 10-20-2010 08:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rjniles (Post 520333)
Every thing past the first junction box needs to be removed. Someone has tapped a 120 volt circuit off the range circuit using the bare ground as a neutral for the receptacle. They tried to make it safe by adding a 20 amp inline fuse. It is not safe and should be disconnected. Find another circuit to feed the receptacle. If the receptacle is also in the kitchen it must be GFCI protected and 20 amps.

Back to the cook-top circuit. Is the cook-top 240 volt or is it 120/240 volt? Check the name plate on the unit. Is it 30 amps or less. Again the name plate will state the amperage. If the unit is straight 240 and 30 amps or less you can use the existing cable. If it 120/240 or more than 30 amps, you need to rewire back to the panel.

If they tapped off the Range circuit, then the range must be 120V because there's only 2 wires w/ grnd in JB1

rjniles 10-20-2010 08:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sirsparksalot (Post 520355)
If they tapped off the Range circuit, then the range must be 120V because there's only 2 wires w/ grnd in JB1

What they did is use one of the hot leads (120) and the bare ground as the neutral. There are 2 hot leads + the bare ground in JB#1.

sirsparksalot 10-20-2010 08:46 PM

rj, help me disect this JB1.

It looks like there's only 2 cables in this box. One looks to be 10-2 w/g, while the other is either 14 or 12-2 w/g.

The 10-2 I assume to be the Range. why wouldn't they simply have tapped the hot from the range, connected the two hots together, and connected the two bare grounds?

Also, if this 12-2, or whatever it is, wasn't there, what the heck is the AWG 10 doing? If they wanted to tap off the Range circuit, why not just run the AWG 12 directly to the Range outlet instead of employing a JB? AND, using the JB, why did they run AWG10 from the Range outlet, to the JB instead of running 12? This just looks silly to me.

rjniles 10-20-2010 09:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sirsparksalot (Post 520368)
rj, help me disect this JB1.

It looks like there's only 2 cables in this box. One looks to be 10-2 w/g, while the other is either 14 or 12-2 w/g.

The 10-2 I assume to be the Range. why wouldn't they simply have tapped the hot from the range, connected the two hots together, and connected the two bare grounds?

Also, if this 12-2, or whatever it is, wasn't there, what the heck is the AWG 10 doing? If they wanted to tap off the Range circuit, why not just run the AWG 12 directly to the Range outlet instead of employing a JB? AND, using the JB, why did they run AWG10 from the Range outlet, to the JB instead of running 12? This just looks silly to me.

I think that there was no range outlet the cook-top was wired directly to the JB with a whip and connected to the 10-2 (2 hot leads). Many older cook-tops were straight 240 and did not need a neutral.

Someone then needed a 120 receptacle and wired a 12-2 into the JB and connected black to black and white to bare ground. Extended the 12-2 to the 20 amp plug fuse and from there to the receptacle.

Depending what the OP is installing for a cook-top he may not be able to use any of the existing wiring; he may have to run a new 4 wire range circuit. And the 120 volt circuit needs to be removed.

jbfan 10-20-2010 09:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sirsparksalot (Post 520368)
rj, help me disect this JB1.

It looks like there's only 2 cables in this box. One looks to be 10-2 w/g, while the other is either 14 or 12-2 w/g.

The 10-2 I assume to be the Range. why wouldn't they simply have tapped the hot from the range, connected the two hots together, and connected the two bare grounds?

Also, if this 12-2, or whatever it is, wasn't there, what the heck is the AWG 10 doing? If they wanted to tap off the Range circuit, why not just run the AWG 12 directly to the Range outlet instead of employing a JB? AND, using the JB, why did they run AWG10 from the Range outlet, to the JB instead of running 12? This just looks silly to me.

The cooktop is 240 volts, so you do not have a neutral wire in jb#1.
Someone tapped into a hot wire, and used the bare ground as a neutral.
This is unsafe and should be removed.

irishMonster 10-21-2010 09:20 AM

Thanks for all your help here.

The cooktop is 240 Volts, so the current wiring coming into the house should be fine. I think the prudent thing to do here is to remove the wiring leading to JB#2 for now and let a licensed electrician figure out how to safely hook up the outlet coming from JB #1. I have other issues I need diagnosed right now so I can just add this to the list.

Thanks again and you will probably hear from me again in the very near future, :thumbsup:
Shawn


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