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    ma0641's Avatar
    ma0641 Posts: 15,675, Reputation: 1012
    Uber Member

    Jul 25, 2011, 06:18 PM
    Hot neutral
    Now I'm asking one! Was doing a job for a customer, swapping outlets due to room color change. Pulled 1 outlet and noticed 1 black and 2 neutrals. Thought that a bit odd so I turned power back on and tested the circuit. Black/ground 120VAC. Pulled the neutrals off and measured white to ground for [email protected], [email protected]. So I have a hot neutral. However, in the configuration as wired, even with a hot neutral, plugging a light into either outlet side, worked the light and nothing tripped? Customer told me never had a problem. What's up?
    hkstroud's Avatar
    hkstroud Posts: 11,929, Reputation: 899
    Home Improvement & Construction Expert

    Jul 26, 2011, 12:17 AM

    Here is the best I can come up with Brian.

    Let's say I have a room without a ceiling light. Only a switched outlet for a lamp. But I want a ceiling light. I'll just go buy a light fixture and run the wire to this switch right here. So I buy a light and run my cable to the switch. I take take the white wire off the switch and connect it to my white. I connect my black to switch. I know what I'm doing. Electricity is simple it's just white to white and black to black. Don't know why electricians get so much money. But the light doesn't work. I don't understand, I know I have current at the switch, I checked between the switch and ground.

    I ask my buddy or maybe I come to AMHD,

    "Why doesn't work"?

    "Because you have a switch leg, you don't have a neutral at the switch."

    "OK, I don't understand but I'll fix that. I'll just run a white wire from that outlet over there. No need to run a cable, I only need a white wire for a neutral."

    I hook it up and the light works.

    Along comes Brian.

    "Two white wires, what the @#$% is that "

    So you unhook and turn breaker on to check voltage. The circuit neutral will show 0 volts to ground as it should.

    Assuming the switch to the light is on, current will pass through the switch, through the light bulb to the end of the wire you have in your hand. Your meter will show 120V between it and the ground. You didn't notice the light go off when you disconnected the neutral because you had the breaker off. Breaker won't trip because it is a neutral.

    What ever the white wire is connected to will not work as long as you have it disconnected from the outlet.

    Easily corrected by rewiring, doing away with the switched outlet and using the cable between the outlet and the switch as a hot and neutral and pulling out the extra white wire. Do you remember replacing a switched outlet?

    Best I can do.
    ma0641's Avatar
    ma0641 Posts: 15,675, Reputation: 1012
    Uber Member

    Jul 26, 2011, 12:52 PM
    No didn't replace any, at least yet. Probably have 15 to do and this was#3. What I couldn't understand was if I have a hot neutral and a hot black on the same outlet, why does the light work or does it just use the unhot neutral as the return. And when the 2 neutrals are on the same outlet, in reality both are hot-or maybe not. Everything works in the room. It's almost like a 240 outlet except they are on the same breaker feed. Never ran into this before. House is 40+ in a rural GA area, don't know who built or wired house but most of the outlets have straight screws so you know they are pretty old.
    BrokenD's Avatar
    BrokenD Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Nov 29, 2012, 07:22 PM
    Hi , this is brokend , I think I had something like that once. One black two whites, and one white was hot. What I found out was the hot white was coming from another recaptical that had a clock plugged into it. Wired the two whites togather, with a short jumper wire, and use one wire to the receptical.

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