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Old 02-02-2013, 06:12 PM   #1
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I have a main service box that has push buttons instead of switches like I am used to. Arenít the BLACK wires supposed to be going to the buttons instead of the white wires?
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:16 PM   #2
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Yes. It must have been backwards day.

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Old 02-02-2013, 06:17 PM   #3
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Also given that the white wires carry the power how is this switch working with only black wires going to it? The two white wires joined together in the background have power in them according to my wand tester. The black wires to the switch does not resister power with the light switch turned to on, but when I turn the switch off there is power inside the black wire.
I am very confused, but I am sure one of you smart guys can tell me what is going on. Thank you in advance.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:20 PM   #4
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It seems like they are switching the neutral in this case. A switched neutral will accomplish the same task as switching the hot, but it is not legal.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by crescere View Post
I have a main service box that has push buttons instead of switches like I am used to. Arenít the BLACK wires supposed to be going to the buttons instead of the white wires?
Are you in the mood to re-wire your whole house?
If so... you might want to do the panel as well.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:26 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
It seems like they are switching the neutral in this case. A switched neutral will accomplish the same task as switching the hot, but it is not legal.

Really? I never knew that! How can the neutral carry power?
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:29 PM   #7
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The neutral is the return path. Break the return path, and the load will not work.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:35 PM   #8
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I have to do something because some of the outlets are wired right while others are not. For example the GFCI has the white (power) wires going to the neutral side, and the black wires going to the hot side. When I try to test the GFCI it will not trip.
So what is the best way to proceed? The box is not tight or big and this is only a small two bed house. I could reverse the wires in the box and then go to every outlet and every switch and hook them up according to what the box should be, Now I have some outlets registering with reverse polarity and others ok.
What would you do?
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
The neutral is the return path. Break the return path, and the load will not work.

So if I reversed the wires in the main panel the switch would become "legal." Right?
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:46 PM   #10
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Really? I never knew that! How can the neutral carry power?
The neutral is a current-carrying conductor. It also happens to be intentionally grounded at the main service entrance.

If you have 120 Volt circuits, then the white wire should be connected to the neutral bar, and not to the circuit breakers. But there are instances where the "white" wire may be connected to the breakers, in the case of 240 Volt circuits, for example. They should be marked or taped with another color if this is the case.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:56 PM   #11
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white wire should be connected to the neutral bar, and not to the circuit breakers. But there are instances where the "white" wire may be connected to the breakers, in the case of 240 Volt circuits, for example. They should be marked or taped with another color if this is the case.

Kbsparky. I know that in a switch loop situation the white wire is attached to the power wire, but here the white wires are mistakenly attached to the power at the main panel and yet it is the black wires that are carrying power to the light switch. I think K buz is saying that since white wires carry return power they are energizing my switch. I did not know this was possible, so I learned something today.

So I am asking if I make the wires right in the main panel by putting black to power and white to neutral I should make the switch in the picture correct without having to rearrange the wires.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:17 PM   #12
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It would be great if you went back and added your location to your profile. May just explain why your wirings a little differant.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crescere View Post
Kbsparky. I know that in a switch loop situation the white wire is attached to the power wire, but here the white wires are mistakenly attached to the power at the main panel and yet it is the black wires that are carrying power to the light switch. I think K buz is saying that since white wires carry return power they are energizing my switch. I did not know this was possible, so I learned something today.

So I am asking if I make the wires right in the main panel by putting black to power and white to neutral I should make the switch in the picture correct without having to rearrange the wires.
Without knowing how EVERYTHING is wired in the home, I would not go and just switch the whites to the neutral bar and the blacks to the breaker. You may reverse the polarity.

Have you ever wondered why one of the prongs on a plug is wider than the other? Take a look at a modern receptacle. The slot on the left will be wider than the slot on the right. This is so the plug can only be inserted into the receptacle one way. So the wider prong is always the neutral and the more narrow prong is the hot. If you reverse the wires in the panel without checking that all the receptacles in the home have the black going to the correct side, you could put the "hot" on the wiring intended for the neutral.

Does that make sense?
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:26 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
Without knowing how EVERYTHING is wired in the home, I would not go and just switch the whites to the neutral bar and the blacks to the breaker. You may reverse the polarity.
Agreed

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Have you ever wondered why one of the prongs on a plug is wider than the other? Take a look at a modern receptacle. The slot on the left will be wider than the slot on the right.
The above would only apply if the receptacle is mounted ground down.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:00 PM   #15
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I have the main box pictured above. The outlets and switches all work, but some test reverse polarity. These are wired with the black on the brass screw and the white on the silver for outlets. So my thinking is that if I correct the box these will be made correct. Just like the switch I have pictured above will be made correct since the black wires will power the switch and the white will be neutral as it should be. I think I am right on this.

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