White Hot!


Old 07-10-04, 12:26 PM
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Question White Hot!

I am trying to troubleshoot a wiring problem I am having in an older house.
All of a sudden, the light in the hall started flickering when it was turned off.
I checked the switch then decided to open up the celing box. There is a whole mess of wired in it, 5 sets to be exact. I disconnected everything and was able to determine that there was a single hot wire coming into the box. The problem is that it is white! I checked the circuit breaker(s) and black is always hot.
Am I correct in assuming that this box must be fed from another box and the problem is probably in that box. Somewhere hot has crossed over from black to white. How do I find the problem?
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Old 07-10-04, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
It is a common misconception that white wires are not supposed to be hot. There are many legitimate (and many illegitimate) reasons for a white wire to be hot. Hot white wires at a switch are extremely common, and most often not a problem.

Is the flickering light a fluorescent? My first guess would be a problem with the light fixture. If that doesn't work out, then replace the switch. Wire it back up exactly as it was before, and don't try to correct this non-problem of the white wire.
Old 07-10-04, 01:58 PM
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Are you saying that 5 cables with one black and white wire per cable come into the light fixture box? Hope you remember how they connected. It is not unusal for a white wire to be hot, this usually occurs in switch loops. The switch that controls this light does it have a white wire connected to it? Are we dealing with a single pole switch or is this light controlled from two locations? Also what is it that you are trouble shooting and does it relate to the problem with the light or is this a different problem? This could be something as simple as a bad switch especially if they are the backstabbed type. If so move the wires to the screw terminals. I would say you have some problem with the switch since the light continues to flicker after you move the switch to the off position....RL

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