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Old 08-23-2011, 01:20 PM   #1
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Three conductors at light, two always hot... WTF?!


Been working on moving from a power-at-light situation to a power-at-switch situation so I can power an in-box nightlight that requires a neutral. Almost had it figured out, until I found this...

The plan was to move the incoming line NM from the light to the switch, keep the existing switch leg but turn the white back into a neutral, and pull a second run from the switch to the light.

The new run is pulled, and I'm ready to put it into the light box. I was expecting the light box to have line in, switch leg out, and maybe another branch coming off. While the connections were terrible (twists with huge globs of duct tape), I had the 6 wires I was expecting.

Three conductors at light, two always hot... WTF?!-light1234.jpg

With all wires disconnected, separated and nutted individually, and this one circuit breaker turned on, I expected my voltage detector to show juice at #1 only.

Instead, it's showing juice at #1, #2, #3, #7, and #8. Again, all are disconnected, nutted and separated by air space.

Any ideas?

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Old 08-23-2011, 02:19 PM   #2
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Three conductors at light, two always hot... WTF?!


I had assumed 3/4 and 7/8 was each end of the switch leg. I was correct on closer inspection (with some help jiggling the wires, with the circuit de-energized, while I watched from above). I wish they had marked #4 hot so I didn't have to do all of that.

5/6 both showing no juice, I decided to see what was downstream. They ran about 10' under ducts and through fiberglass bats, and then were stapled to the side of the garage firewall... where they branched in-line. No junction box, no wire nuts, just twisting and tape. One leg went through the firewall and to the rear patio light. This circuit is not on a GFCI breaker, and there is not a GFCI receptacle upstream of the light. The other end was about 10' long, curled up into a pile of blown-in cellulose, and just ended there. Not even nutted or taped. Yeah, it was a live leg end sitting in a pile of insulation. I'm glad I didn't step on it and that it didn't start a fire!

I removed all wiring downstream of the light box. All of that danger is just not worth it. I have two lighted ceiling fans on the patio, so we can use those while I plan a new dedicated GFCI-protected outdoor circuit.

The switch leg was in a white fabric casing with red writing. It was pretty easy to tell apart from the line side, which was in a silver fabric with black writing. There was enough that it made it down the wall cavity and into the switch box.

I found the cause of the odd readings... the clamps had been tightened too hard during its install, a serious gouge was in the line side, and the box was energized. This is an ungrounded installation. The wires that didn't read hot were the ones far enough away from the box to not require a junction, while still being able to trim off the damaged section.

I'm about to install the devices back in the box. Can anybody tell me why we didn't get fried when we touched the chandellier before? I'm thanking my lucky stars for that!

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Old 08-23-2011, 04:01 PM   #3
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Three conductors at light, two always hot... WTF?!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Thadius856 View Post
I had assumed 3/4 and 7/8 was each end of the switch leg. I was correct on closer inspection (with some help jiggling the wires, with the circuit de-energized, while I watched from above). I wish they had marked #4 hot so I didn't have to do all of that.

5/6 both showing no juice, I decided to see what was downstream. They ran about 10' under ducts and through fiberglass bats, and then were stapled to the side of the garage firewall... where they branched in-line. No junction box, no wire nuts, just twisting and tape. One leg went through the firewall and to the rear patio light. This circuit is not on a GFCI breaker, and there is not a GFCI receptacle upstream of the light. The other end was about 10' long, curled up into a pile of blown-in cellulose, and just ended there. Not even nutted or taped. Yeah, it was a live leg end sitting in a pile of insulation. I'm glad I didn't step on it and that it didn't start a fire!

I removed all wiring downstream of the light box. All of that danger is just not worth it. I have two lighted ceiling fans on the patio, so we can use those while I plan a new dedicated GFCI-protected outdoor circuit.

The switch leg was in a white fabric casing with red writing. It was pretty easy to tell apart from the line side, which was in a silver fabric with black writing. There was enough that it made it down the wall cavity and into the switch box.

I found the cause of the odd readings... the clamps had been tightened too hard during its install, a serious gouge was in the line side, and the box was energized. This is an ungrounded installation. The wires that didn't read hot were the ones far enough away from the box to not require a junction, while still being able to trim off the damaged section.

I'm about to install the devices back in the box. Can anybody tell me why we didn't get fried when we touched the chandellier before? I'm thanking my lucky stars for that!
Probably because you were not grounded.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:49 PM   #4
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Three conductors at light, two always hot... WTF?!


Well thank goodness for that!
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