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Old 07-11-2010, 09:58 AM   #1
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Wiring mystery


Hello all, I am hoping you can help me with a wiring mystery I am trying to figure out in my home. I have a floor receptacle in my living room which is connected to a wall receptacle in the basement. I was in the process of removing the floor box and when I disconnected the wires at the box I found that the receptacle in the basement was still hot. I then removed the basement receptacle and disconnected the wires at the box, leaving all wires in both boxes disconnected. I flipped the breaker back on and was surprised to find that I have a hot black wire coming into the floor box as well as hot black and white wires coming into the basement wall box, all of which are on the same circuit. When I tie everything back together at the floor box I end up with two hot black wires and one hot white wire in the wall box. The wall receptacle was backstabbed with the hot white wire to the bottom silver terminal and the hot black wire to the top brass terminal. Both the hot and neutral jumper tabs are in place on the receptacle.
I was thinking that maybe the white wire is controlled by a switch, but have been unable to find a switch in the basement that controls this wire. I have only a very basic understanding of electrical wiring and am wondering if these outlets have been wired correctly as well as how to wire everything back up after the floor receptacle is removed. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:00 AM   #2
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The fact that, when you have hot at both boxes when everything is disconnected makes me suspect that there is another junction where the supply is split and sent to both. The "hot" white wire is worrysome also. This makes me suspect a switch somewhere also, or perhaps a switch that was removed and wires tied together.

There are ways to wire this, but these mysteries are worth solving, in my mind. When moving forward, it is also worth considering what you plan to do with the wires currently feeding the floor box. Are you keeping the box and putting a blank plate over it, or is it your hope to make it disappear, entirely?

Keep in mind that it is not good practice to bury a box within your walls or floors, yet you need to find a way to terminate the existing wiring, or abandoing it? If abandoned, you will have to find out where is the other end to which it is tied to power and disconnect.
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:15 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I plan to move the existing floor box (I have access from the basement underneath) and make it an accessible junction box.

I agree that there is likely another junction point where the supply is split and will try to track it down. What baffles me is why the wall box and floor box were tied together when they both already have a supply coming to them. I would have thought that doing this would result in a tripped breaker or some other malfunction.
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Old 07-11-2010, 01:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
What baffles me is why the wall box and floor box were tied together when they both already have a supply coming to them.
Indeed, interesting. Perhaps there is some renovation in the past which would explain this. I still suspect there is another clue between the two boxes. Can you visually follow the wire between the two?
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Old 07-11-2010, 05:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by oberkc View Post
Indeed, interesting. Perhaps there is some renovation in the past which would explain this. I still suspect there is another clue between the two boxes. Can you visually follow the wire between the two?
Unfortunately, no because the ceilings are drywall. There is no ceiling in the mechanical room which is how I have access to the floor box. I will check out some of the other outlets down there to see if I can figure out which one is feeding it.
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Old 07-11-2010, 08:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cmaddy View Post
why the wall box and floor box were tied together when they both already have a supply coming to them.

would result in a tripped breaker or some other malfunction.
It's redundant wiring, I guess unintentionally.

The wiring is from the same side of the neutral, otherwise the 240 v would have been shorted.
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:25 AM   #7
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If you put the receptacle back, do not pigtail both hot black wires and do not connect the hot white wire to anything until you find out where it goes. You might as well individually tape over as unused the hot neutral and also the black wire in the same cable until you find out where they went or came from. At the same time connecting the wires from the other cable to the receptacle.
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