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Old 06-03-2013, 11:54 AM   #1
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Small sparks/arcing through neutral wires in duplex?


Sooooo, I'm replacing some old non-grounded polarized duplexes with grounded ones.

I'm getting a small bit of arcing from the neutral as I try to wiggle the wire off the old duplex. By small I mean pretty faint, but I can hear a tiny "bzzz" when it happens. I've seen/heard bigger sparks from shuffling across a carpet and touching metal.

Breaker is off and I confirmed ( via a non-contact voltage tester ) there's no power coming into the box.

The duplex is the first of a run of 6 that are switched, so I have a 14/2 hot in, a 14/2 for the switch loop, then a 14/3 going out to the other duplexes in the chain.

I have the new duplex attached to the hots and ground, while the old duplex is still hooked to the neutrals, it was me making the neutral X-fers did I see the arcing.

Do I have cause for concern, or should I un-hook the hots and do neutrals first?

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Old 06-03-2013, 12:07 PM   #2
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Small sparks/arcing through neutral wires in duplex?


Your neutral is being shared by another circuit. Culprit in older homes is usually a 3-way switch set up where they have "borrowed" the neutral from a nearby circuit that is different. Be careful with this... there is enough kick there to give you a nasty shock.

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Old 06-03-2013, 12:36 PM   #3
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Small sparks/arcing through neutral wires in duplex?


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Originally Posted by HouseHelper View Post
Your neutral is being shared by another circuit. Culprit in older homes is usually a 3-way switch set up where they have "borrowed" the neutral from a nearby circuit that is different. Be careful with this... there is enough kick there to give you a nasty shock.
Thanks, and I think I found the offending circuit, now time to find where the overlap may be.

Foyer light started to flicker, when I attached a neutral to the new duplex, and got the little arcing....
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:03 PM   #4
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Small sparks/arcing through neutral wires in duplex?


Are you providing GFI protection for the ungrounded receptacles? You just cannot change from 2 to 3 prong devices.
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:42 PM   #5
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Small sparks/arcing through neutral wires in duplex?


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Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
Are you providing GFI protection for the ungrounded receptacles? You just cannot change from 2 to 3 prong devices.
The Romex has grounding, panel is grounded, so I''m pigtailing the existing ground wire(s) to the new outlets and to the metal boxes. House has plaster over gypsum walls with those old school metal boxes.

I assume that's the correct way to "re-wire" grounded receptacles? If there was no ground wire present and/or I didn't see the panel ground, I'd be in this section a whole lot more, LOL.

Not that household electric current is anything to laugh about.
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