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Old 10-11-2011, 09:12 PM   #1
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Receptacle Question

Hi, new here, long time lurker first time poster.

I'm really interested in this stuff but don't work in any of the trades. I work in sales at a hardware store and have for most of my adult life.

Anyway wondering if I'm right about this.

I was at a friend's house going through an inspection report trying to help her with some noted issues. Several receptacles have no ground continuity even though they are wired as such. I was checking some adjacent receps and did solve and fix a ground/hot reversal. I noticed a particularly long ground wire that when pushed back into the box was touching the hot screw.

That really has nothing to do with my question, but I figured it might give me some street credit.

I have yet to solve the lack of grounding problem but while checking other receps I came across something that I don't understand. One recep had a single 12-3 NM wire attached to other wires in the box. The ground and neutral were landed correctly but the red and black hots where both landed on the brass screws. I figured it was a split recep but I looked and the tab was not broken. Both hots, when disconnected, had 120 volts to ground. Why was this not a dead short?

I was thinking that perhaps someone had brought the power from 2 breakers on the same phase. I'm not sure why they would do that. What are the other possibilities? Very curios. I'm sure I missing something.

Thanks so much.



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Old 10-11-2011, 09:30 PM   #2
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The most likely explanation is that this was supposed to be a split switched receptacle, and the red wire is fed from a switch on the wall in that room while the black is constantly hot. They are not on different legs, in fact that 12/3 probably comes only from the switch box. If you break the tab (or just remove the red wire temporarily) and play with the switches in the room, you'll probably find that one of them controls it. You can break the tab to make the receptacle half-switched.


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Old 10-11-2011, 09:33 PM   #3
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Thanks, that makes sense. I thought that might be the case at the time, so I broke the tab and started flipping switches. Didn't find one that had an effect so it left me confused. I'm entirely open to the possibility that I just missed the switch.

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