Replacing bathroom fixture for daughter in 1940 vintage house. Original
wiring to the outlet has the neutral stripped and purposefully connected
to the metal outlet box before extending on to connect to the fixture..
All wiring is 2 wire. I failed to notice if the wiring was run in metal
conduit, but it may be. I left it as is for the moment until I can get
back there with a meter and run some sanity checks. It seems to me that
when the light is on, touching the fixture and the water faucet a few
feet below would zap you. It has been this way for 60 years and there is
no reason to touch both, but it could happen.
I do not have an electrical reference that covers wiring practices of
that era, so I do not know if there was a reason for this or if it was
normal practice. I feel confident in working with home electrical
challenges on normal circuits, but this one unnerves me. Do any of you
electricians or old timers" know if this was normal for the era and
should it continue being connected that way with the new fixture?
Ah! I should have caught the "fixture" part.
Yes, a grounding conductor run in the wall to the Cold water supply
would help. You could verify that it is an effective ground by
connecting a test lamp (~60 watt) from the Hot wire to the ground.
Technically, using a water pipe so far from the service entrance
is a violation today, but I would certainly prefer it to nothing...
Grounding an outlet to a cold water pipe is how one in a
bathtub can be killed. Grounds to water pipe must only be to
remove current. Safer to disconnect that neutral to ground in
the box AND only use two wire outlets - and install a GFCI in
the breaker box for that circuit. Why a GFCI in the breaker
box? Because you don't know how many more times an earlier
owner hated humanity - doing only what was convenient rather
than what is required and necessary to protect human life.
Do not connect neutral to ground in outlet box. Do not
ground to water pipes. Some locations so worry about this as
to require steel bathtubs to be grounded by a dedicated ground
wire from bathtub to breaker box - so that any current leaking
into the bathtub will be immediately removed by a dedicated
Speedy Jim wrote:
I agree with this on all accounts.
As far as the OP. Instead of doing all of this monkeying around. why
not just replace the old cable by running some new romex from that
fixture right to the breaker box and be done with it.....
One other thought, and this may or may not be up to code where you
live, but you could run a single strand of insulated green wire
alongside of the existing cable. Run it from the fixture to the
breaker panel. At least this way you are safe, even if it is not the
Personally, just replacing the wire is the best and easiest, unless
you got to start knocking out walls,
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