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BrandonD 10-08-2012 10:11 PM

Well pressure switch and outlet
1 Attachment(s)
I currently have a two pole breaker feeding a 240V two conductor & ground wire out to my well. The wire enters a box with an outlet. I am wondering if it is safe. One of the conductors goes to the well switch. The other conductor connects to the bottom right terminal of the outlet. A wire goes from the top right terminal of the outlet to the well switch. Another wire goes from the top left terminal of the outlet and connects to the ground pigtail. Is this correct and safe? The outlet works.

As a side question, how would I get the wires going from the outlet box to the switch in some sort of protective flex conduit? I couldn't find anything from Home Depot that wasn't too long. See picture. I've since replaced the wiring (and entire outlet box) with THWN.


BrandonD 10-08-2012 10:15 PM

Part of the reason I am wondering is because that top left terminal wire connecting to the ground pigtail actually goes to the pressure switch to do so (that's the wire nut pictured). Not sure why they didn't just connect it to the pigtail in the outlet box.

Missouri Bound 10-08-2012 10:40 PM

Is this located within a structure.? You have a few options. You can turn the pressure switch to allow a more direct connection with some flex tubing. You do need to install a bushing of sorts to protect the wires, and leave it as is. A few more pictures from different angles would help.

BrandonD 10-09-2012 07:16 AM

Hi Missouri Bound,

Thanks for your response. It is not within a structure. I will try to get more pictures today after work. But the wiring as described is safe? As I understand it, they have the neutral side of the outlet being tied to the ground. I did not think this was entirely safe? But to fix it I'd not only have to pull a 3 conductor wire from the back of the house to the well but also figure out how to replace the 2 conductor run from the main panel in the garage to the back of the house.

joed 10-09-2012 07:38 AM

You can NOT connect a 120 volt receptacle to that well switch. There is no neutral present. Using the ground for the neutral can be deadly. If you need 120 volt power then you need to run a new circuit.

BrandonD 10-09-2012 07:47 AM

Bummer. I didn't think it was safe. Was it acceptable at some point to tie the neutral side of a outlet to the ground? The house was built in 1989 and has always been on well water. The softener is what's plugged into that outlet and always has been. Is is so dangerous that I need to run 115' of extension cord to power the softener and disconnect the outlet ASAP until I get a new feed out there?

I guess that's further motivation to get my shed subpanel finished, as the shed is maybe 10ft from this. I could run a new GFCI 120V circuit from this to power the softener.

AllanJ 10-09-2012 08:08 AM

The 120 volt receptacle should be immediately disconnected. Remove both all hot wires from the gold side and all wires from the silver side. A ground wire may remain connected to the green screw. Using ground (equipment grounding conductor) as a neutral was improper as far back as I can remember.

The new 120 volt feed for a receptacle should not come into the existing box with the 240 volt feed. Have a new box for the 120 volt receptacle. Technically you may not have multiple feeds for 120 volts and/or 240 volts coming into the same outbuilding, if you have a separate well house where the well and water softener are located.

BrandonD 10-09-2012 08:23 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Here is a diagram of the wiring in case I screwed up the description or have an incorrect understanding of it. I think I'm correct though because I'm pretty sure the neutral is indeed tied to the ground.

I am going back to the house within the next couple of hours just for a bit. I will flip my well breaker off. Then when I get home I will take the hot going from the 240V main to the outlet, disconnect it from the outlet, and connect it to the terminal on the pressure switch that the other hot outlet terminal is going to now, correct? Where does the ground from the 240V service line go since it won't be connected to anything after I remove the outlet? I'm assuming I connect it to the ground screw in the pressure switch (pictured in the above photo)?

The well is not in a building, it is all exposed (including softener). So I can keep the 240V feed dedicated to the pressure switch and run a new 120V line, box, etc for the outlet?

And to confirm, I can run a temporary extension cord to power the softener until I get the new outlet wired up? Or is that so unsafe too that I need to take tomorrow off and finish my subpanel and run a new 120V outlet to it?

AllanJ 10-09-2012 08:47 AM

Changing my mind slightly: You don't have to take tomorrow or the next day off. I don't call it an emergency.

IMHO it's a tossup, safety wise, between using the extension cord or leaving everything as-is until the weekend.

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