why is the white wire hot

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Old 02-09-10, 05:09 AM
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why is the white wire hot

when I connect the two black wires the white wire going to the switch becomes hot even though the white wires are not connected. The only thing I can think of is that a nail /screw went through the wire or it was nicked when the sheet rock was hung and the black and white are touching. Is there any other way this could happen?
 
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Old 02-09-10, 05:46 AM
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Hot wires (temperature) can cause a fire. I suggest you call an electrician ASAP to be safe.

Otherwise we would need a lot of details as to the specific circuit, what type of switch, how this is wired, what the switch goes to, etc.

This could take a lot of back and forth. And by that time your house could have burned down due to the hot wire!

But anyway, what does the switch go to?

How many connections on the switch? 2? 3? 4?

Is this a regular toggle switch? Or a dimmer?

What does the switch go to?

Where are you connecting these two black wires? What do the black wires go to?

Is this new construction or a remodel?
 
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Old 02-09-10, 07:09 AM
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It's a single pole switch. The feed appears to be fine, The white is not hot. Only the white on the wire running to switch becomes hot when I connect the blacks. I have disconnected the hot feed so the house will not burn down (hopefully) . It's a new construction (finishing the basement). Something had to go through the wire somewhere - I just cannot figure out where. I guess it's time to start cutting the sheet rock.
 
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Old 02-09-10, 07:51 AM
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what type fixture is the switch controlling ?. Seems like it could be a bad switch that's not interrupting current, causing the neutral return to become live.
 
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Old 02-09-10, 07:52 AM
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What does the switch go to?

Where are you connecting these two black wires?

What do the black wires go to?
 
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Old 02-09-10, 07:59 AM
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What does the switch go to?

Where are you connecting these two black wires?

What do the black wires go to?

^ hey Bill, my guess would be the black wires are wired to each terminal.

how and why is the neutral exposed (how did you find out it was hot)
 
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Old 02-09-10, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by damstenger View Post
It's a single pole switch. The feed appears to be fine, The white is not hot. Only the white on the wire running to switch becomes hot when I connect the blacks. I have disconnected the hot feed so the house will not burn down (hopefully) . It's a new construction (finishing the basement). Something had to go through the wire somewhere - I just cannot figure out where. I guess it's time to start cutting the sheet rock.
It sounds like you have done some new work and you are connecting a black and white cable going to a switch to a black and white power source cable. When you connect the blacks your white is showing hot before you connect it to the power source white ... is that correct? If so you may be using an inductive non contact tester or you do have a short to the black and white.... do one or two things with the black and white going to the switch. Disconnect it from the power source and the switch test continuity between the black and white. If continuity you have a short and you will have to find the short. If not then use a different tester that is a contact tester with a light that shows that the voltage is not inductive (false) to the white wire. When you connect the blacks a magnetic field is produced and the white may show hot from the induction voltage to the white wire using a non contact tester. This voltage will be false.

If you by chance connected the whites and blacks and the breaker did not trip off when you placed power on the circuit then I would say the voltage is induced on the white and a short does not exist. Do the testing to be sure unless you have a breaker tripping.
 
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Old 02-09-10, 10:20 AM
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Do you mean electrically hot or thermally hot. I see some answers that assume the first and some that assume the second. I think Bruto nailed it but if ,as another poster thought ,the wires temperature was rising significantly then there is a danger of fire but the breaker should be tripping.
 
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Old 02-09-10, 01:28 PM
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Thanks - I took Bruto's advice and he was right on.
 
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