switch cuts neutral for light

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  #1  
Old 10-13-02, 07:17 AM
J
jayrichmond
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Question switch cuts neutral for light

I went to install a new light over our breakfast bar. I cut the power, disconnected the old light then I restored the power to check the wiring. So I tried my test lamp across the hot wire and the neutral, not the ground, and to my surprise it lights very dimly. What I found was that the hot wire was still hot no matter what position the switch was in. So then I tried the neutral, it is indeed the wire that some fool had hooked up to the switch. This indeed sounds like a job for my electrician. I guess I'm checking to make sure with others that I am correct about this. The hot wire should always be the one connected to the switch. Since this circuit goes to a light fixture I'm sure that this type of wiring could cause a small power drain. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-13-02, 07:45 AM
J
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Your analysis is partially correct. Yes, the neutral should never be connected to the switch -- it should always be the hot. However, if there is one white and one black connected to the swtich, then that white is NOT a neutral. Do not assume that all white wires are neutral.

But even if the neutral is incorrectly switched, there should be no glow on the tester with the switch off. And there should be no power drain.

Something else is going on here.

Were you extremely careful to connect the new fixture to exactly the same wires that the old one was? And were you careful not to disconnect any connections except the ones connected to the old light? I hope you didn't make the mistake of assuming that black-to-black and white-to-white is always the proper way to connect a light.

Can you provide more details? We will be able to spot the problem if your descriptions are good enough.
 
  #3  
Old 10-13-02, 07:59 AM
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jayrichmond
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Thanks for your reply. I did not yet install the new fixture. I do understand that at the switch the wire is only used to complete the circuit so the white and black are used as a loop for the hot wire. Believe me I never assume, that's why I use my test lamp and my test meter. I like to check all my circuits before I reconnect. The test lamp does glow dimly at the fixture with the switch in the off position and the hot wire is hot regardless of the switch position. Only the neutral wire is "switched". So, does it sound like a job for my electrician to run the wire correctly?
 
  #4  
Old 10-13-02, 08:01 AM
J
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I agree. Time to call the electrician. You have something strange going on. Let us know what the electrician finds.
 
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