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Old 02-07-2011, 09:35 AM   #1
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


Hi guys -
First time posting on here, found a sticky situation that I can't wrap my head around. I replaced all of the receptacles and light switches in my 33 yr old bedroom. On one of the receptacles I found a neutral to ground jumper. When I put in the new outlets I did not copy that part of the old wiring. But now the outlet and a nearby light swith/light won't work. My assumption is that the previous owner or electrician used the ground as a neutral. I won't do that. So the two questions I have are - 1. There is a neutral attached to the outlet - where is it going? how do I trace that? and the #2 - How do I get this outlet and light to work without putting neutral to ground? Will I have to run a neutral from somewhere else?

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

Matt

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Old 02-07-2011, 11:08 AM   #2
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


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Hi guys -
First time posting on here, found a sticky situation that I can't wrap my head around. I replaced all of the receptacles and light switches in my 33 yr old bedroom. On one of the receptacles I found a neutral to ground jumper. When I put in the new outlets I did not copy that part of the old wiring. But now the outlet and a nearby light swith/light won't work. My assumption is that the previous owner or electrician used the ground as a neutral. I won't do that. So the two questions I have are - 1. There is a neutral attached to the outlet - where is it going? how do I trace that? and the #2 - How do I get this outlet and light to work without putting neutral to ground? Will I have to run a neutral from somewhere else?

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

Matt
Could you get a picture of the outlet box you are describing? It would help in figuring out what is going on there. Were the old receptacles 2 prong? (no ground?)

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Old 02-07-2011, 11:23 AM   #3
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


You must prove you have a functional neutral and ground. The receptacle and light will work without a ground but will not work without a neutral. Sounds as if the neutral is open and they were using the ground as the neutral.
You need to go to the panel first and find the correct breaker and see that the circuit is connected like it should. Then you need to start looking into the receptacle and light switch boxes until you find this dropped (loose, disconnected) neutral.

To verify. Put tester (could be a light bilb tester) between the neutral and hot. If you have power here, its not an open neutral. Check this first. Then post back.
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:39 AM   #4
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


Look for a loose neutral in a still working receptacle, possibly in an adjacent room.
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Old 02-07-2011, 05:14 PM   #5
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


Okay - got home from work finally and could take another look at it - I have 2 pictures - one of each. It appears from closer inspection that the neutral in the light switch box is tied to ground. No other outlet has a loose neutral or isn't working. I also checked the breaker box and it is wired correctly. When I test voltage - when the light switch is turned on - I get 118v from white to ground, and when switch is off - I get 118v from black to ground. when I try black to white - I get 90v when switch is on and 5v when switch is off. The light switch power shows correctly because it feeds the outlet and the light fixture (2 black wires on light switch - power coming in and going out to outlet.) the white coming into the box with the red wire nut (the light switch box) is the neutral that is tied to ground. In the receptacle box - The wire nut is the hot white/black going to the fixture and the white in the receptacle is coming from the fixture. It appears that I might have to run a wire to act as neutral from light box to outlet box - maybe? thanks for your help so far!

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Old 02-07-2011, 05:57 PM   #6
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


Looks to me like you have a switch loop for the switch. Some one wanted power to run something else. There was no neutral so they used the ground for the neutral connection. This has created a very dangerous situation by running current on the ground wire.
What ever is on that new extension needs to find a different power source.

The double wire under one screw is also wrong.
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Old 02-07-2011, 07:53 PM   #7
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


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Looks to me like you have a switch loop for the switch. Some one wanted power to run something else. There was no neutral so they used the ground for the neutral connection. This has created a very dangerous situation by running current on the ground wire.
What ever is on that new extension needs to find a different power source.

The double wire under one screw is also wrong.


It is a switch loop - their is a receptacle between the switch and the fixture. And the 2 blacks are not under 1 screw - one is under the screw and one is in the hole in the back. Is that not acceptable? I know you can't put 2 wires under 1 screw but thought that this was an acceptable way. This is a 30+ yr old house and I was just trying to change the outlets and switches to white from ivory. this is what I found while doing the change.
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:17 PM   #8
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


The wire connection is OK if one is in the hole. However it needs to be removed anyway because the ground being used for the neutral is the major concern. It needs to be removed and recabled to a source that has a neutral.
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:10 AM   #9
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Ground to Neutral jumper found in house


This may not be the reason it has been done but twice (once recently) I have seen this done where at some point the neutral has failed in a cable going to a wall light. The "solution" was for them to simply use the earth (ground) wire instead.

In the UK, oilder properties usually only have an RCD (GFCI) for the sockets and other major hardware - so the lighting circuit will not trip if the earth wire is abused in this way. It isn't safe and you are right not to use it - but folks do.

Might be worth checking the integrity of the earth to the lighting fitting. IF the light fitting is plastic it is clearly less of a concern than if it metal. If it IS metal and the earth is used as a neutral, then the whole light fitting will go live if it is switched on and the ground connection in the house goes open circuit for any reason - as the power will flow through the bulb and try to return through earth which if floating will simply rise to live potential - as will everything else in the house connected to the earth whenever that lamp is used and the earth is left floating.

Admittedly a floating earth is rare - but CAN happen when someone is renewing an Earth bond at the CCU (fusebox) or doing some other work on the main Earth+Neutral strap in the house depending on the earthing system used - PME etc.

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