electric moron here

I have an old house. I am trying to put in an electric socket where one existed before. It has a white wire, black wire and one with no insulation. The only combination of wires that light the light on my tester, is the black wire and the one without insulation. This does not seem right to me, but like I said, I am a moron when it comes to electricity! Is this outlet unusable? If so, what is the proper way to hook it up. TIA
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Do you mean the one without insulation lights when your test light is grounded to the box or to the black wire
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when it is connected to the black wire.

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go down to the library and get the time life book on home wiring and read it. not just enough to fix what you got, but the whole book. take you an hour and youll learn tons. and you will no longer be an electricity moron.
randy

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And then you too, can give electrical advice on USENET!
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Larry wrote:

One of two things.
The wiring has a problem and trying to work with defective wiring, especially when you don't have a lot of experience and knowledge can be deadly. Your tester should show power between the black white and between the black and ground (bare). Don't attempt to use the wire until you find out what is going on. I can be dangerous. Hooking it up could cause dangerous situations in other areas of your home. You were wise to ask the question. I suggest a pro for this situation.
It also could be that you are making some sort of error in your testing. If that is the case I also suggest calling in a pro as you would like the skill to safely do the job.
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Joseph E. Meehan

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No, you can't use it the way it is.
Somewhere the white wire has become disconnected. You must trace the circuit and repair it. Aside from not working, it is a potentially dangerous situation and I would recommend not using that circuit until it is fixed.
Fortunately it is also a very simple problem and should not require an electrician if you read up a bit on electrical. (It is possible that the wire has broken inside a wall and that would be a major job; but it is also very unlikely.)
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Thanks, I will look for the broken wire. If I can't find it ... I will call an electrician. Thanks again!

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Some outlet boxes are connected to a wall switch. Maybe someone ran the white ground wire through the switch box instead of the black hot line. Check to see if there is a wall switch, probably near the door, which seems to have no useful function. Switch it on and see if the outlet works properly.
Another slim possibility is that someone ran the white ground wire through the fuse instead of the hot line.
Having worked on a lot of old houses and buildings, I've seen all sorts of bizarre electrical work.
Paul
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Is this outlet controlled by a wall switch. I have came across homes where the neutrals were switched instead of the hots.
Robert R
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Larry wrote:

Go get a cheap ( < $15) volt/ammeter). and a neighbor/friend/handyman who knows electricity.
You need GROUND, neutral and hot. No insulation would suggest GROUND. The neutral is attached to ground at the pole. But don't freely swap them. One is for electical conductance, the other is for safety.
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You either have faulty open neutral (white wire) or you have a switch that's open in the neutral wire and it controls the electric socket. The bare wire is ground. You should get a reading between the black wire (hot wire) and neutral and between the black wire and the ground.Look for a switch. If that fails, look for an electrician. Ron

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Larry:
L > I have an old house. L > I am trying to put in an electric socket where one existed before. L > It has a white wire, black wire and one with no insulation. L > The only combination of wires that light the light on my tester, is the L > black wire and the one without insulation. This does not seem right to me, L > but like I said, I am a moron when it comes to electricity! L > Is this outlet unusable? L > If so, what is the proper way to hook it up.
As the others said, nope, go look for the broken white wire. I would be inclined to look in the next outlet. Outlets are frequently run in series, from one to the other.

If the output from Outlet1 is bad then Outlet 2 and 3 will have problems. If the input to Outlet 2 then effects Outlets 2 and 3 also; just a matter of where the site of failure is.
There are several ways of doing the wiring. One way is to connect the input wire to the "top" screw on the duplex outlet and the output wire to the "bottom" screw. There is a link, a piece of metal, joining the two. If the link should fail (open up) then downstream outlet(s) will not work properly. Also the "bottom" outlet of the duplex outlet at the site of failure won't work properly! (A-ha!)
Easiest way to check would be to use a $10 outlet tester. This is a small device, about half the size of you fist with three prongs on one end and three LEDs on the other. The pattern the LEDs light up in wil tell you if the wiring is correct or not -- easier and faster than using the meter! :) Test both the top and bottom outlets.
(Note: I put quote marks around 'top' and 'bottom' as the top could be on the bottom, or even left and right depending on how things were done. If the feed goes to the bottom outlet it doesn't matter; it's electrically the same.)
- barry.martinATthesafebbs.zeppole.com
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