Neutral wires connected to the ground

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  #1  
Old 01-09-06, 08:47 PM
PLLNCAL
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Neutral wires connected to the ground

Is there a reason why 2 light switches (side by side) would have the neutral wires connected to the ground screw of the switches. We just bought the house and this seems odd to me.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-10-06, 04:31 AM
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It would be extremely unsafe to really have a neutral wire connected to a ground screw.

Are you sure this wire is really a neutral wire?

Are you sure this is really the ground screw?

What wires are connected to the two other screws on the switch?

Why don't you describe the entire setup. Perhaps we can help make sense out of this setup.
 
  #3  
Old 01-14-06, 07:49 AM
Do It Over Don
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I think I have the same thing as well. I had my service upgraded and all of the 110 circuits are 14 2 with a bare ground wire on 15 amp breakers. The black goes to the breaker and the white and ground both go to the ground bar in the Square D QO box. On the outlets the black goes to the hot side(brass colored) of the 2 prong outlets and the white goes to the neutral(silver colored)side.

The previous owner did do one thing that may save me some time in my 1st floor rewiring job. In the basement the wiring goes from the breaker to a junction box but the wire from the jb to the outlets is the old 2 wire w/no ground wire. So I should be able to use 14 2 w/ground from the new 3 prong outlets down to the jb's. "In Theory"
 
  #4  
Old 01-14-06, 08:12 AM
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Grounding wires and neutral wires can, and must, be connected together in one and only one place in your house, and that place is the panel housing your main disconnect. They must not be connected together anywhere else, such as at a switch or receptacle. Violating this creates a hazard.
 
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Old 01-14-06, 09:25 AM
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Don,

What you have at your house now sounds correct. As John stated, the grounds and neutrals are usually connected to the same place in the main panel.

I have a suggestion. If you are rewiring and replacing ALL of the receptacles on a circuit, then use 12-2 with ground. Then either directly wire to the panel or wire to the junction box and then replace the piece of 14-2 with 12-2 to the junction box. Finally replace the breaker with a 20 amp breaker.

Note that my suggestion is only valid if you are replacing ALL of the wiring. This includes and wiring to light switches and lights. A 20 amp circuit will give you one third more power at little additional cost. If you are only replacing SOME of the wiring, then use 14-2.

While working on this project, also consider splitting any circuits that are heavily used. When ungrounded wiring was used, they didn't run nearly as many circuits as they run in new construction today. This often causes problems with overloaded circuits and breakers tripping (or fuses blowing). Separating existing circuits into multiple ones will allow you to address this problem.
 
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Old 01-15-06, 06:55 AM
Do It Over Don
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Thanks for the helpfull info. It makes me feel a lot better knowing that the main box is wired correctly which makes the wiring I have done safe. For now I am only working on re-wiring one outlet and adding one outlet which are on the same wall. Once this is done, I plan on drawing the wiring diagram of the whole house and upgrading all I can to 12-2. As for loading and circuit breakers tripping. I haven't had that problem yet when going about our daily business. Since the house was on 60amp service when I bought it, there are minimal outlets per room. The largest single room is 400 sq ft and has 4 outlets on the same circuit which we use 1 for TV/VCR/Dish hookup, 1 for a computer, and one for a lamp all on a 15amp breaker.

If anything, when I rewire to 20amp and 12-2, I may combine some of the outlets which are on their own breaker.
 
  #7  
Old 01-15-06, 07:24 AM
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Back to the original poster.
A white is not always a neutral. If all you have are black and white in the box, and they are both connected to the switch, then this is what is called a "switch loop". It is perfectly legal and safe.
 
  #8  
Old 01-15-06, 10:06 AM
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  • A neutral wire connected to a switch is usually, but not always, bad.
  • A white wire connected to a switch is usually fine.
  • A neutral wire connected to a grounding screw is always bad.
  • A white wire connected to a grounding screw is always bad.
One of those four statements is likely the answer to the original question, but I have no idea which one.
 
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Old 01-15-06, 09:00 PM
PLLNCAL
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Smile

It was a neutral wire and it was connected to the grounding screw. I took it apart and did it correctly-everything is good. Thanks for your help.
 
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