Yeah, I _knew_ that and got crossed in response way back and had it as
both...my bad... :(
OP should verify the _real_ neutral is ok on the same circuit and
there's not some other wire there that is supposed to have been the hot
that is now the ground or such....
It's funny, because about 50 years ago, my uncle, a licensed
electrician, installed wiring for my parents garage, and used a green
wire for a hot. He probably just used what he had on hand. I
remember this because years later I added a third wire to that garage
circuit, so I could get 220V in the garage for a compressor. I
noticed that green wire and knew it was not to code, and since I
wanted to pull another wire thru the conduit, I attached a black and a
red to the green one and pulled the two new ones with the green wire.
I just saved the green wire for grounding on other jobs. My uncle had
died from old age, so I could not ask him why he used green.
BUT....... I'm wondering if green could legally be used as a hot wire
50 years ago? Just because green is not code as a hot wire NOW, does
not mean it was always against the code back in the old days. I have
seen every color imaginable used for hot leads. Black, Yellow, Orange,
Red, Purple, Brown, Light blue, Navy blue, Pink, and others.
Well, it was. AFAIK, the NEC has always mandated green for ground.
And all of those meet Code. "Every color imaginable" is permitted to be used
for ungrounded (hot) conductors, except:
d) green with yellow stripe
The first two are reserved for grounded (neutral) conductors, and the last two
for grounding conductors. Anything else is OK for hot wires.
I'm the original poster, OP. Just to clarify:
The flex metal conduit is attached to the garage outlet box and to the
breaker box. It has the hot green wire and the white neutral wire
The green wire is attached to the breaker, and the white wire to the
breaker box's neutral & ground bus bar.
I would consider disconnecting the green wire from the 20A breaker and
pulling it through the conduit, with a proper replacement black wire
attached and trailing if it were a straight run from the breaker box
to the garage outlet. But since there are living room outlets also on
this circuit, and they are NOT fed from the garage outlet box, there
has to be a junction box in the wall or attic between the breaker box
and the garage outlet. Therefore, I can't pull the entire wire
through without gaining access to that hidden junction box, and
unhooking the wires (probably green also!) which are feeding those
other outlets. And due to the VERY small crawl space & loose
insulation in my attic, I'm not going up there. Based on my own
intuition and the opinions of other posters, I'm simply going to mark
each end of the existing green wire black, post a warning inside the
breaker box that there's one green wire that's hot, and leave it
As for the questions about whether the circuit is properly grounded, I
would assume the short green grounding wire from the new outlet to the
screw in the metal outlet box, and the metal conduit from the outlet
box to the breaker box should be adequate. I measure 117 VAC from the
outlet's hot wire to the outlet box screw, which to me means the
ground path is intact.
One question I do have is: Can I just use a black magic marker to
paint the ends of the green wire or do I have to use, as others
suggested, black electrical tape?
It may be, then again it may not be. You should read Bud's post.
It was found that the steel wrap on BX (AC) cable was not adequate and the
1962 Nec required a bonding wire installed. Current Nec doesn't allow
metallic flex as an equipment ground in lengths over six feet, probably for
the same reason.
That depends on your personal comfort level. NEC says "no."
Personally if I were to repull wire I would pull an add'l conductor
through for a definite ground as per modern practice, assuming that
there is enough room to do so. I'd pull out the green and pull another
green and a black or red behind it. If you're "frugal" you could pull a
black and a string through with the green, then pull the green (and
another string just in case) back in with the string.
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
Oh for crying out loud. Wrap some black electrical tape around the
wire on both ends (breaker box and outlet). Continue the wire using a
black wire and forget about it. Yes it's a code violation, but not
the end of the world. The wire itself is the same thing, just the
color of the insulation. The black tape (or red tape), will correct
the code violation.
However, if you have any electricians work on your wiring, be sure
they are professionals, and intelligent enough to work on your wiring
without getting killed. If one does die, just stuff him in your
breaker box, and dont forget to give him coffee every morning.
What do you expect that to accomplish? The OP never said he's missing a
neutral wire -- he said some previous person used a green wire as a hot
conductor. How will running a white neutral wire change that?
My point is that he can put the right colors into the conduit. The green
can be used as a ground, etc.
One of the justifications for conduit is that you can install what you need
and pull out what you don't need.
Since there is wire installed, all he has to do is pull one wire and measure
it and pick up the lengths and colors (& sizes) he wants at the home depost
Good point; cos we have a situation with a few 120 volt and 240 volt
outlets on the same circuit above a garage work bench (concrete
floor) and near the garage door.
I guess the proper answer is get a double pole GFI equipped breaker
(Square D type) for the whole circuit?
The reason for the 240 volt outlets is that we have a few tools of
that voltage (both UK vintage and surprisingly a 1950s 'Miller Falls'
US electric hand drill!) and couple of cordless battery chargers
brought from working in the Middle East, that are also 240 volt.
And darn it, I forgot to 'Edison' wire the regular 120 volt outlets at
the time. Not that it matters there will not be heavy load on them
anyway. Also we have a heavy 240v welder outlet on an individual
breaker in an adjacent room anyway.
I've seen similar wiring schemes in 50's wiring in Los Angeles, which
required conduit wiring at the time. Evidently at one time green was
not reserved for use as a grounding conductor. You may be able go
grandfather in what is in place now, but if you're extending the circuit
use another color.
Also keep in mind that flexible conduit is not suitable as a grounding
conductor, although it may have served such a purpose at one time. If
feasible you may want to consider running a new hot wire from the
breaker to the first outlet, leaving the green wire available for grounding.
I believe that existing , previously approved wiring is inherently
grandfathered provided it hasn't been altered . If his entire house was
wired using green conductors for the hot legs, it might give credence to
your theory, but as it was just this one circuit,it's more likely that it
was just sloppy work. The original wiring didn't use an equipment ground and
didn't have grounded outlets. To be Nec compliant, the Op should not have
replaced the non grounding outlets with grounding outlets, unless he pulled
an equipment grounding conductor through the greenfield.
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