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Old 12-30-2013, 09:25 AM   #1
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


Doing demo down the basement and the light switch has one wire going to it (no markings on the wire which is odd) and it has a black and white only. There are no other lights on this circuit just outlets so I'm guessing they "hacked" this together and just used one wire to make the run. Is this okay?

I don't know where the wire comes from, it comes down from the header in the ceiling and I have no way to trace it.


Last edited by RyanD; 12-30-2013 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 12-30-2013, 09:34 AM   #2
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


One wire?
Do you mean one piece of romex with black, white, and bare ground?
Pretty common, called a switch loop. Whoever installed it was supposed to wrap a piece of black tape around the white to make it legal because it's not a neutral wire anymore.
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=...electedIndex=0

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Old 12-30-2013, 10:27 AM   #3
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


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One wire?
Do you mean one piece of romex with black, white, and bare ground?
Pretty common, called a switch loop. Whoever installed it was supposed to wrap a piece of black tape around the white to make it legal because it's not a neutral wire anymore.
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=...electedIndex=0
Yeah, one piece of romex, it's just gray without any writing which seems odd but I guess they did this switch loop thing you speak of. Thanks.
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Old 12-30-2013, 10:47 AM   #4
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


Look closer, gray in most cases could be UF which is mostly used outside.
Printing would not last underground so most often it's embossed into the insulation.
If it does happen to be UF no big deal it's just more expensive and harder to work with when installing.
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Old 12-30-2013, 12:18 PM   #5
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


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Originally Posted by RyanD View Post
Doing demo down the basement and the light switch has one wire going to it (no markings on the wire which is odd) and it has a black and white only. There are no other lights on this circuit just outlets so I'm guessing they "hacked" this together and just used one wire to make the run. Is this okay?

I don't know where the wire comes from, it comes down from the header in the ceiling and I have no way to trace it.
That "light" switch probably controls one of the outlets in the room.
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Old 12-30-2013, 02:35 PM   #6
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


It is not "hacked" together. It is definitely a switch loop, and since there are no lights it almost certainly switches a receptacle, or even half a receptacle.

This is extremely common and perfectly fine. What makes you question this?
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:09 PM   #7
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


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It is not "hacked" together. It is definitely a switch loop, and since there are no lights it almost certainly switches a receptacle, or even half a receptacle.

This is extremely common and perfectly fine. What makes you question this?
Just odd seeing a white wire used as hot.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:13 PM   #8
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


Another vote for a Switch Loop. Grab a copy of the Black & Decker "Complete Guide to Home Wiring". The latest one comes with a DVD, with the 2011 NEC codes on it also. The best thing, is that you have some good pictures of the most common wiring methods used for lighting & receptacle branch circuits.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:20 PM   #9
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


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Just odd seeing a white wire used as hot.
and that is what makes it at least somewhat 'hack'. the white conductor needs to be identified/marked as being used in a switch loop, since it is no longer a grounded conductor. you were right to question it.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:58 PM   #10
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


Correct, you are certainly right to question the white wire.

I would not be so hasty to brush this off and say "it's fine". There's still the possibility that the white wire is hot. The most common mistake is what you mentioned - they just didn't recode the white wire as black. If they didn't know to do that, it's possible they made a worse mistake, which is wiring this switch loop on the neutral wire. In other words, the light or outlet picks up a hot wire from a different direction, and then runs this switch loop to the neutral. This is a potentially dangerous situation, where the circuit appears to work just fine. For example, a light is connected to the switch, and the light turns on and off just fine. However the problem is the light is off, but still has a live hot wire connected to it. You wouldn't know that if changing the light bulb, or worse working on the circuit with the switch off but the breaker on.
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:06 PM   #11
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


if installed properly, the white wire at the switch should be hot (for a switch loop).
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:31 PM   #12
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


It did control a light and there was only a switch so does this mean this wire goes to the light and there is another power source going to the light too?

Here is the switch.
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?-2013-12-30-10.18.01.jpg  

Last edited by RyanD; 12-30-2013 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:40 PM   #13
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


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It did control a light and there was only a switch so does this mean this wire goes to the light and there is another power source going to the light too?
open up the light outlet, you should see at least two cables in there, one going to the switch in question and the other as the incoming power source. power flows from the incoming cable, down to the switch, back up to the light and then back to the panel.
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:10 PM   #14
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


It's hot when the power is on, if that helps. So I'm guessing (next step is the light) that the re is power there that runs down the wire to the switch and then back through the other wire to the light. Like you guys have said.
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:18 PM   #15
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Switch has pos/nutrual, is this okay?


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It's hot when the power is on, if that helps. So I'm guessing (next step is the light) that the re is power there that runs down the wire to the switch and then back through the other wire to the light. Like you guys have said.
That's exactly what's happening.
It is also VERY commonly done and it's called a switch loop. Incoming Power is at the fixture and not the switch.

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