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  1. #1
    Darin Redding's Avatar
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    Default white to ground is HOT

    Not being an electrician, but during an inspection today I tested a switched outlet in a home and found that the white to ground produced 120 volts. This occured in either of the switched positions. The light switch is wired with white on one pole and black on the other, both from the same romex.

    Anyone else run across this?

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  2. #2
    Joe Asta's Avatar
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Was the "hot white wire" attached to the brass colored screws or the silver colored screw?

    Was there another white wire (from a different Romex®) attached to the
    silver covered screw?

    If the "hot" white wire is attached to the brass colored screw and a different white wire attached to the silver colored screw, then the hot white wire should be marked as a "hot".


  3. #3
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Quote Originally Posted by Darin Redding View Post
    Not being an electrician, but during an inspection today I tested a switched outlet in a home and found that the white to ground produced 120 volts. This occured in either of the switched positions. The light switch is wired with white on one pole and black on the other, both from the same romex. Anyone else run across this?
    Not uncommon for electricians to use a NM cable from a receptacle outlet or light fixture to a switch as a "switch leg". As Joe said, the white should have been labeled as "hot". As for the other, I assume that you got no voltage between the black/white contacts. The white/black wiring may have gotten reversed at another outlet somewhere, but somehow that does not seem right.

    To answer your question... No, I have not run into that. Did you actually remove the switch and outlet from the wall?

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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    That was wired incorrectly.

    The black is the only one allowed to feed power to the switched outlet (light, receptacle, etc.) and the white is only allowed be used to return back to the switch.

    And, when the white is used in that manner, the white is required to be permanently reidentified to some other color other than white or green (i.e., black, red, brown, etc.).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
    Darin Redding's Avatar
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Asta View Post
    Was the "hot white wire" attached to the brass colored screws or the silver colored screw?
    Silver screw

    Was there another white wire (from a different Romex®) attached to the
    silver covered screw?
    No, same Romex


  6. #6
    Darin Redding's Avatar
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    I assume that you got no voltage between the black/white contacts.
    This is true.

    Did you actually remove the switch and outlet from the wall?
    I removed the cover plate.


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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Strangely enough I had to check on this for a client today. Prior to the '99 NEC it was permissible to use a white wire in a cable as a hot to a switch on a switch leg without remarking it. This was an exception, all other uses of white as a hot needed to be identified. In the '99 NEC the requirement was added (exception deleted) that the white in a switch leg needed to be marked as a hot wire. If I recall correctly it had more to do with a number of new devices needing a neutral at the switchbox than anything else.

    Anything built under pre-99 codes is very likely to have the white in a switchleg unmarked, and would be grandfathered code-wise.


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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post
    Strangely enough I had to check on this for a client today. Prior to the '99 NEC it was permissible to use a white wire in a cable as a hot to a switch on a switch leg without remarking it. This was an exception, all other uses of white as a hot needed to be identified. In the '99 NEC the requirement was added (exception deleted) that the white in a switch leg needed to be marked as a hot wire. If I recall correctly it had more to do with a number of new devices needing a neutral at the switchbox than anything else.

    Anything built under pre-99 codes is very likely to have the white in a switchleg unmarked, and would be grandfathered code-wise.
    Correct, but that was as the hot to the switch, not to the outlet. In the original post Darin stated the white was to the outlet.

    Thus, re-identified or not, the white is not allowed as the hot "to the outlet".

    From the 1996 NEC.
    - 200-7. Use of White or Natural Gray Color.
    - - A continuous white or natural gray covering on a conductor or a termination marking of white or natural gray color shall be used only for the grounded conductor.
    - - - Exception No. 1: An insulated conductor with a white or natural gray finish shall be permitted as an ungrounded conductor where permanently re-identified to indicate its use, by painting or other effective means at its termination, and at each location where the conductor is visible and accessible.
    - - - Exception No. 2: A cable containing an insulated conductor with a white or natural gray outer finish shall be permitted for single-pole, 3-way, or 4-way switch loops where the white or natural gray conductor is used for the supply to the switch, but not as a return conductor from the switch to the switched outlet. In these applications, re-identification of the white or natural gray conductor shall not be required.
    - - - Exception No. 3: A flexible cord for connecting an appliance, having one conductor identified by a white or natural gray outer finish or by any other means permitted by Section 400-22, shall be permitted whether or not the outlet to which it is connected is supplied by a circuit having a grounded conductor.
    Exception No. 4: A white or natural gray conductor of circuits of less than 50 volts shall be required to be grounded only as required by Section 250-5(a).

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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    OK.

    What do we have here? Do we have a receptacle or lighting outlet with a separate switch or do we have a McDougle switch (switch and receptacle combination? Or what?

    You CAN'T have 2 wires in the switch box and 2 wires in the outlet box. One of them has to have 4 wires.


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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post
    What do we have here? Do we have a receptacle or lighting outlet with a separate switch or do we have a McDougle switch (switch and receptacle combination? Or what?

    You CAN'T have 2 wires in the switch box and 2 wires in the outlet box. One of them has to have 4 wires.
    Quote Originally Posted by Darin Redding View Post
    a switched outlet
    I am presuming he means a switched "receptacle" outlet.

    Then again, though, he did say:
    The light switch
    However, I take as meaning "the switch" rather than specifying the "light" switch.

    Never heard the term "McDougle switch", always called them "combination switch and receptacles" or "combination switch and outlet".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Never heard the term "McDougle switch"

    You need to get out more


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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post
    Never heard the term "McDougle switch"

    You need to get out more
    You need to use the proper terms and not local terms from the front range - for the benefit of all.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Darin Redding "white to ground it HOT"

    Your post was short. But let me see If I can offer something.

    Were I live, many room depend on switch receptacles for lighting.
    A bedroom, a living, etc.. an outlet is any place in a electrical
    circuit you can remove power from. It could be a lamp socket or
    a duplex receptacle.

    A lot of duplex receptacle have a tab between the two half. Most electricians will wire the duplex receptacle so the upper part is hot
    all the time, and the lower half is control by the on/off toggle switch.

    Hope this helps.


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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    GOOGLE:

    No results found for "McDougle switch".

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Quote Originally Posted by Darin Redding View Post
    found that the white to ground produced 120 volts.
    Let's go back to Electricity 101 for a moment:

    "white to ground"

    I believe we all have made the same presumption: That Darin "meant" to say "neutral", "grounded conductor", etc., terminal ... however ... he actually said "to ground" - in no way, shape or form should white be connected "to ground" ... 120 volts on it or not.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    He didn't say that the white was connected to the ground, he said that he read voltage between the white and the ground (which indicates that it is carrying power). As mentioned earlier, many electricians used the white wire as a switch leg for light fixtures and in this case, my guess is that one of them stretched the rule and used the wite as a switch leg to the receptacle.

    Robert Sole
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Sole View Post
    He didn't say that the white was connected to the ground, he said that he read voltage between the white and the ground (which indicates that it is carrying power). As mentioned earlier, many electricians used the white wire as a switch leg for light fixtures and in this case, my guess is that one of them stretched the rule and used the wite as a switch leg to the receptacle.
    Oops!

    My bad ... guess I need to learn to read too.

    At least my other posts above were based on sound reading and comprehension.

    As my other posts have stated, the white was not allowed for a switch leg TO the outlet, only TO THE SWITCH with black coming back to the outlet.

    "my guess is that one of them stretched the rule and used the wite as a switch leg to the receptacle"

    No stretching of the rule - the code address for "outlets", it does not specify "lighting" outlet or "receptacle" outlet ... just "outlet". Dat pard I done read reel goode.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: white to ground is HOT

    Jerry don't ever stop answering threads. A cup Jerry always brighten my
    day.


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