If it is simple switch box with wires only for that it may be simple to
sort out which is which but crowded box with other wires pass through or
doing some thing else it may take a while to figure that all out. Our
one bathroom has 3 ganged boxes full of wires doing several things,
pump timer, IR heat lamp/vent fan, light fixtures..
In which case there WILL be a neutral in the box which could be
pressed into service, although if that neutral is associated with a
circuit on a different breaker or fuse it is technically illegal to
On Fri, 13 Dec 2013 01:40:16 -0500, email@example.com wrote:
More specifically, there should be *ONE CABLE* that has a black,
white, and bare (there will be more than one). In that one cable, one
that's not connected to a switch will likely be the neutral. Those
that are connected to mechanical switches should be marked clearly as
something other than neutrals (colored tape or marker) but
electricians are often sloppy.
On Friday, December 13, 2013 1:31:04 AM UTC-5, Jennifer Murphy wrote:
I'm trying to understand - you're saying that the hot wire was run to the switch, but not the neutral? So the switch box only has one wire in it? Why would anyone do that?
Most hot wires in a switch box should be black (with some exceptions); neutrals always white, and the ground either bare or green.
Could easily be a "switch leg" where the feed cable goes directly to the
switch box and then a 2 wire plus ground cable is dropped to the switch
box. The white in the switch leg should be marked with black or red
tape to indicate that it is not being used as a neutral. Perfectly code
compliant up until the latest revision.
To provide a neutral in this situation the switch leg would have to be
repulled with 3 wire plus ground cable. Also boxes should be
re-evaluated for box fill, one or both may need to be replaced with deep
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
On Friday, December 13, 2013 8:42:13 AM UTC-5, TimR wrote:
Noi, the switch would have both a hot wire and the wire going to the
light/load connected to it. The neutral would never be connected to
the switch. Most times, around here at least, the way the wiring is
run, the box has a neutral in it anyway. But until very recently, there
was no code reqt to have a neutral in the switch location.
Lazy electricians and cost cutting measures. The difference between sourcing
or sinking a load. These can confuse a novice. Proper application would
be that the neutral should pass through the j-box the switch is located in
with the hot being switched before continuing on to the switched device.
Preferable should be a more "proper" term, I suppose.
Usually the black tape on white wire is to denote a switched hot that is used
in the feed of a 3-way were both conductors in the romex are hots. For
a normal switch this is not necessary.
I realize this is not a perfect world and many will cut whatever corner that is
allowed to facilitate a "legal" installation however funky this may be. Most times
the dollar wins out over intuitive installation. People forget that what the
code states is "what is allowed", not what is preferred or is better.
Many only care about the "it passed" nature of the trade, not the quality and
down the road maintenance of the installation.
All you have to do is look in the junction box.
There should be one green or bare wire going from the junction box to
the metal mounting tab of your switch. That is the /ground/ and though
it is not energized /cannot/ be used as neutral.
Next, there will be one wire going to each terminal of the switch.
If there is a white wire in the junction box that is taped off...or
perhaps runs to some other circuit...then that is your neutral wire.
If there are no other wires in the box (or wires that are anything other
than white) then there is /no/ neutral.
NOTE: If one of the wires connected to the switch is white...it is /not/
a neutral but simply the wire going to the bulb. It may have a piece of
tape on it with a color other than white.
The wire coming from your fuse/breaker box to the switch box is the
"Line". The wire that goes from the switch box to what is being
switched, is the "Load" wire.
Now go to the load being switched. One wire is the "Load" wire from the
switch. The other wire is the Neutral line you need.
I think your best alternative would be to re-route the existing Neutral
line through the switch box. Otherwise you may need to run a new
Neutral wire from the fuse/breaker box to the programmable switch, and
on to the load.
Perhaps your electrician can advise you.
Perhaps is a very gentle word.
If someone with absoutly no understanding of electricity had got an
electrician in the firt place we could have saved this whole thread and
avoided a lot of rubbish from the semi literate.
If the house is wired with "romex" you cannot "add" a neutral - it
needs to be totally rewired to get a neutral.
Basically there are two ways of wiring a switched load, like a light.
You can switch the power TO the load - running the cable (line and
neutral) from the panel to the switch, and from the switch to the
load, with the neutral wire-nutted together, or you can switch the
power "from" the load - running the cable from the panel to the load,
and the load to the switch, wire-nutting the neutral together at the
light - and running a cable down to the switch where both black and
white wire can be "live".
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