Hot White Wire joined with Neutral White Wires

Reply

  #1  
Old 09-30-05, 11:05 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Sonoma
Posts: 45
Hot White Wire joined with Neutral White Wires

I was moving a recepticle location. In the current recepticle there were other wires that were joined- going to other places (of which I do not know)

The bundle of white wires contained one white wire that was hot. All the others were neutral. I took the hot white one out and put a twist cap on for safety. Now everything works, except some other outlets and a light in another room in the house. Obviosly this hot white wire was doing something. What I do not understand was why it was bunch in with the neutral wires. Should I just put it back with the netural wires or put in in the hot wire bunch.

Help please!
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 09-30-05, 11:15 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
What is a "bundle"?

A "hot" white wire cannot be electrically connected to "neutral" white wires without shorting out the circuit. If by "bundle" you meant that they were electrically connected, then your statement is impossible.

Normally, hot white wires are connected to hot black wires, not to neutral wires. Clearly by capping off the hot white wire, you deprived some downstream outlets of power.

My guess is that you don't have an accurate record of how things were connected before you started.

I'm tempted to tell you to connect the hot white wire in with the hot black wires, except that this would be a guess, and I hate guessing on electrical work--it's dangerous!
 
  #3  
Old 09-30-05, 11:27 AM
scott e.'s Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Anderson, IN
Posts: 412
could the white wire have been painted white? I have seen where wires will look completely white, however when you scrape off the sprayed on white paint, they are actually black. (open boxes when painters sprayed the room.)
 
  #4  
Old 09-30-05, 11:31 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
I suspect that the white wire was not, and is not, hot, but rather that it appeared to be hot using a digital multimeter or because the poster was reading voltage through a device.

What you should do is to put everything back as you found it. If you aren't sure how you found it then you have to do some analysis to figure out what is what.
 
  #5  
Old 09-30-05, 11:44 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Sonoma
Posts: 45
By bundle- I mean wires connected together with a twist cap.

It is very strange. I no expert, but have done wiring in the past. I connected the hot white to the black wires (twist cap) and the same outlets/lights did not work.

Now get this- I connected the hot white wire to the other neutral wires (twist cap) and everything works fine!! No short. This is the way they were connected before.

In the connection box are a group of grounds connected, group of blacks connected, group of whites connected and a Red and Black wire connected by a twist cap.

The romex (12/2 with ground) that the hot white wire come from- the black wire is connected to the red wire by twist cap.



I can tell the hot white is hot, by using the tester that light a little bulb.
I touch the hot white and the ground with the tester's wires and it lights up. I touch the other white neutral to the ground and the light does not light up.

Can you make any sense of this.
 
  #6  
Old 09-30-05, 11:53 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
You are reading current through some device. A light bulb most likely. The white wire appears to be hot because the other end (after going through the light bulb) is hot. Turn off the switch that controls this load, or unplug the device and the white wire will not appear to be hot.
 
  #7  
Old 09-30-05, 12:10 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
I can't tell you how many problems we've seen here because somebody tried to "fix" something that wasn't broken. When in doubt, leave it alone.

Good work on this one Bob!
 
  #8  
Old 09-30-05, 12:18 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Sonoma
Posts: 45
Thanks for the replies. I will leave it as it is.

Bob,

This is how I understand your explanation. The hot wire connects to a device(light bulb) and lights the bulb and the white wire contains the electricity that is not used by the light bulb and seeks the ground? Is it something like this?
 
  #9  
Old 09-30-05, 12:31 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Not quite. All of the "electricity" is used by the light bulb when it is operating, and none of it is used by the light bulb when it is not.

We're talking voltage here. When you have an open circuit (such as when you had disconnected that white wire), all of the voltage present on the input side of the bulb (the black wire) is present on the output side of the bulb (the white wire) too. There can be no voltage drop without current, and there is no current in an open circuit.

It sounds like you have a curious mind, so you might want to pick up a few books on home wiring from your public library and learn how this stuff works. Seek first to understand the differences and relationships between current, voltage, power and energy. These are all components of "electricity".
 
  #10  
Old 09-30-05, 12:36 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Let me see if I can explain it a little easier to understand.

Electricity must make a complete loop between the hot wire and the return wire. When this happens, the light bulb lights or the hair dryer blows hot air or the vacuum cleaner sucks, etc.

Consider the case of a light with a single incandescent bulb controlled by a wall switch. In normal operation with the switch on there is a complete path through the light bulb and the light bulb lights. With the switch off, the break occurs in the hot wire. You could just as easily (but not as safely) switch the neutral wire and have the same thing. That is essentially what you did when you turned power on with the white wires all open.

When you used your tester to check for voltage, you found voltage on the neutral wire. The voltage is present because there is voltage present, through the light bulb.
 
  #11  
Old 09-30-05, 04:53 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Sonoma
Posts: 45
Thanks Bob and John. Your explanation make sense and I should probably read up on this. Everything works as it did before and I have my new GFI recepticle in the location I wanted. I never took the time to find out which recepticle or light was the problem, but everything is as it was.

I really find DoItYourself.com to be a great help. I have had plumbling questions too and the answer have been helpful. I will be remodeling two bathrooms so I am sure I will have future questions.
 
  #12  
Old 09-30-05, 05:17 PM
rocmay
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Exclamation hot white neut.

I have seen this done in a lot of mobile homes. I bet they ran the neut. or white wire as a hot instead of making another run back to the panel. You said that when you undo the white whire a light in bedroom does not come back. Check another light close by to see if you see a white tied with black some where. I bet you will find it then. If go to your local hardware store. They make a plug in checker for recetables it has three lights. IT will show you a cross or short. ot it will check ok. If you are in a mobile home. I bet the bathroom light or fan, has a white tied into the hots black wire.
 
  #13  
Old 09-30-05, 06:40 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
rocmay, although your explanation might apply to another house, it does not apply here. There are no longer any mysteries in TennisHacker's situation. We understand it completely and can explain all of his observations.

There are some legal situations where a white wire is not a neutral (mostly in switch loops and 240-volt circuits), and of course an infinite number of illegal situations where a white wire is not a neutral. However, this is not either of those situations. This white wire really is a neutral. But even a neutral wire can have voltage if you disconnect it. That's why it's important to treat neutral wires with respect. You can be killed by a neutral wire too.
 
  #14  
Old 09-30-05, 06:56 PM
Speedy Petey's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,455
This is another reason not to work live. If this circuit were dead it would appear as any other neutral.

I also whole heartedly agree with John and the others not to assume something is wrong just because it seems odd. Especially when you are not sure of what you are doing.
 
  #15  
Old 10-01-05, 08:17 AM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: port chester n y
Posts: 2,117
By "hot wire" I guess that you are referring to a Black conductor.

One possiblity for a Black conductor connected to one or more Neutral conductors is that the cable was damaged, causing a "Ground-Fault" in the Black conductor.With the White wire intact, the solution was to reverse the standard Black/White connections.
 
  #16  
Old 10-01-05, 08:50 AM
Speedy Petey's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,455
Actually Racraft's explanation above is dead on. He is reading voltage on a disconnected white through a connected load.
It's basically a neutral with a load looking for a place to go.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'