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Old 07-30-2012, 12:28 AM   #1
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Miscolored THHN Switch Loop Without Ground Conductor

Was helping a friend recently and he let me into a situation where a contractor had installed a 4x4 jbox to move a light switch from one wall to another, removed the old switch, and nutted the wires at the jbox. Because the contractor failed to show for several appointments, he fired him. This, he had no switch and no kitchen light.

At the jbox, he has two romex coming in. One leads upstream towards the panel, the other is coming from the light. Both 14-2. Another recep on this circuit has a two prong device that looks very old. And this is a 1940s house. I'm going to assume there's no ground continuity back to the panel as its the old woven Two wire NM at the breaker. Didn't wanna take his panel cover off if I didn't have to.

So on his own, he pulled two pieces of 14 gauge THHN down the wall to the new switch as a switch loop. The connections look fine to me, but I have three questions:

1- He couldn't get the conduit past the blocking. Is THHN without conduit in an uninsulated interior wall allowed?

2- He didn't pull a ground. Is this legal if the ground doesn't go back to the panel anyway?

3- He used red/black instead of black/black. Can it be remarked to meet code?

Northern California. Not sure if NEC 2005 or 2008 applies in his county. Ill help him pull some Romex with my cable bit and fish tape if it's unsafe.


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Old 07-30-2012, 05:44 AM   #2
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1. No. The THHN wires may not pass into a gap of empty space or an unlined stud hole between where one piece of conduit leaves off and the next piece begins.

2. No, A ground wire (equipment grounding conductor) must be pulled to accompany the other wires. Exception, wires in approved metallic conduit with metal junction boxes to form a continuous path (a bonding) back to the panel for grounding purposes.

3. No remarking is needed. Red may be substituted freely for black, All colors besides green and white are for hot wires.

4. For the 2011 code and also for futureproofing, a (white) neutral also needs to be pulled.

5. It is against code to hang anything new off of a (grandfathered) circuit that does not meet code, for example a circuit that is not grounded.


The good conscientious technician or serviceperson will carry extra oils and lubricants in case the new pump did not come with oil or the oil was accidentally spilled, so the service call can be completed without an extra visit.

Last edited by AllanJ; 07-30-2012 at 05:59 AM.
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