Adding electrical outlet question


hello - I am adding a couple of outlets in my unfinished basment, something I have done before (though never in this house - new (1985) house) However, with this circuit, when I add an outlet (black/white/ground NM), and I test the outlet with circuit tester , I get "hot/neutral reversed". When I flip the switch that I believe is at the end of this circuit, (this switch controls an overhead light, and only has cable going into it) my circuit tester (on my "new" outlet) changes from "hot/nuetral reversed" to "hot/ground reversed". As far as I know, there is nothing (outlet, junction box, switch) between my new outlet, and the wall switch. The light switch has a black wire, and white wire that has been painted black going in, as well as bare ground. Any suggestions as how to wire outlet, re-wire wall switch? Many thanks, -paul
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It sounds like you've connected an outlet to a switch leg. If there were only two wires in the switch box, connected to the switch, you don't have a neutral, which is required to feed an outlet

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well there were technically 3 (black, white, ground)...
is it possible to add an outlet to a "switch leg"?
thanks,
-paul

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Nope. Not unless you repull the switch leg with 14/3 or 12/3 instead of the 14/2 and 12/2 that is there now.
nate
Paul wrote:

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The ground doesn't get counted as one of the circuit wires. So there were only two. In addition, the black paint on the white wire is supposed to tell you that *both* wires need to be treated as black (hot), and that the white wire is not neutral.

No. The "switch leg" contains two conductors that, if connected together, turns on a lamp or outlet located somewhere else. You don't have both (unswitched) hot and neutral, so you cannot connect an outlet.
I'd like to take this opportunity to suggest that you find a book about DIY electrical work and read it before you do any more additions to your basement. There are a bunch of conventions you need to follow to ensure that your changes (a) work, (b) are safe, and (c) can safely be worked on by someone else. Even if you aren't worried about having your work meet electrical code (so it will pass an inspection), it should still follow these conventions and standards for the other reasons listed above.
    Dave
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Paul, the simple solution is, you must find another receptacle to tap off of, don't use the wires going to the switch. Just find another receptacle, fish the cable to that box, connect color to color on the receptacle or the splices in the box that tap off to the receptacle.
the only way you could tap off a switch box is if there are 2 or more white wires in that box spliced together that are not connected to the switch. In that case, you tap off the black wire on the switch and the white wires spliced together.
Incidentally, if you ever extend a circuit by tapping off an existing circuit, don't use the little holes in the back of a receptacle for extending to a new branch that will have several receptacles on it. Those cheapey connections aren't worth a hoot for carrying current. Splice the wires in the box with wire nuts along with a black and white wire, short pigtails, that you will connect the receptacle back to.
Agree with you getting a book from Lowe's or somewhere on DIY Homeowner electrical.
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Thanks again for the advice!
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Where did you get the wires that you connected to the new outlet too?
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wrote:

devices. Something is reversed or loose or shorted out somewhere. The painted white in the switch box indicates a switch leg, so it isn't the 'end' of the circuit. You need to go upstream from the box that switchleg is hooked to, all the way to the breaker. Something is bass ackwards. I also recommend a DIY wiring book- they will show what colors are supposed to be on what screws, and what colors are wirenutted together where.
aem sends...
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Thanks!
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The wire was running from behind a finished wall (from the finished side of the basement) to the switch; however, between the switch and the place I was placing the outlet, the wire went back behind the wall.

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You, or someone before you, has violated one of the color rules.
Green or bare wire goes to ground. There should be ground screws on the receps. Metal boxes should have a ground stinger.
White wire goes to the silver colored screw. If anyone has done this wrong upstream it will give you the signal.
Colored wire, usually black, goes to the brass colored screw. A recep will work if wired incorrectly, but will result in a back fed neutral.
A switch leg at a switch has only ground and an interrupted hot. Using Romex, an electrician uses both the black and white as hots through the switch to operate the light. The white is NOT a neutral in this circumstance.
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http://www.faqs.org/faqs/electrical-wiring/part1 /
http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/homewiringusa/2002/pictures/index.htm
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Excellent advice - thanks for info!
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