Wire nut over neutral?

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Old 07-20-11, 08:33 PM
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Wire nut over neutral?

Back when I had an electrician doing some wiring for my remodel, he always just put a wire nut over the hot but never the neutral. I asked him why and he said it is not necessary, because if the hot is capped and there is no device connected, the neutral is dead and does not need to be capped.

I thought about it at the time and it made sense.

HOWEVER, as I am now checking his wiring, and also making some adjustments on my own...I think this is wrong.

I think this is only true if the entire circuit is not connected. But you can never be sure in a remodeling scenerio. Say you wired the boxes for two sconces, four outlets, two overhead lights on one circuit. You never know, may be out of necessity, you might connect one outlet to get power in one area, but the rest are still not connected to anything. As soon as you do that, isn't there power now going through all the neutral lines in each empty boxes that are not capped with wire nuts and this could be very dangerous?
 
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Old 07-20-11, 09:20 PM
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The neutral has almost zero voltage between it and ground as it is the grounded conductor. While there is a danger if the neutral has load on it, when there is only one neutral wire (or pigtail hanging out), the danger is minimal.

I would not suggest a homeowner or DIYer to do this, but as an electrician, we know the risks and how to avoid them. I would not leave a job site with only the hot capped where others can get at them.
 
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Old 07-20-11, 10:13 PM
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What I have seen several times is a bare ground wire with a wire nut on the end.
 
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Old 07-20-11, 10:22 PM
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no not the green ground wire and not bare LOL.

I mean the neutral white line. It is not always possible to remember completely which box is which circuit. So if you activate one outlet and the other boxes still have just wires, and only the hot black wire has wire nut over it, will the neutral wires of those boxes carry current? Most of them without wire nut will touch the metal box that they are inside of.

So the current is minimal?
 
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Old 07-20-11, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by MiamiCuse View Post
no not the green ground wire and not bare LOL.

I mean the neutral white line. It is not always possible to remember completely which box is which circuit. So if you activate one outlet and the other boxes still have just wires, and only the hot black wire has wire nut over it, will the neutral wires of those boxes carry current? Most of them without wire nut will touch the metal box that they are inside of.

So the current is minimal?
If done right the netural is not a issue but hot conductor it will have some issue if that ever engerized up but for myself.,, What I useally do is either engerized the whole thing or cap { wirenuts } off complety all it depending on the set up especialy with MWBC { multi wire branch circuits } that have a whole diffrent cans of worms if not carefull.

Merci,.
Marc
 
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Old 07-21-11, 01:40 AM
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I think almost all of us at one time or another have been whacked with stray neutral current. There's only one reason to not cap your neutrals, and that's because you're a tightass and don't want to spend an extra couple pennies on wirenuts, because you figure the fixture is going to come with them. (And fixtures don't come with wingnuts, they come with Marrettes, which I personally hate - It's too hard to get a good twist on them unless you use their stupid little tool.)
 
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Old 07-21-11, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by MiamiCuse View Post
So the current is minimal?
The current is not minimal IF there is a load on it. If you have a group of neutrals in a box (more than one) then I would cap it with a wirenut. If it is alone, or only a pigtail, then the danger is minimal as there is no current going through that single wire.

As you can see there is a lot of "IFs" So as a DIYer or homeowner I recommend capping all wires.
 
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Old 07-21-11, 10:06 AM
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The neutral is only dead when the breaker for the circuit is switched off (same as the hot). While the chance of getting a truly dangerous shock from a neutral wire is low, it is not zero.

If it was only me working on the job I would probably leave the neutrals exposed, but if I knew others might be around I would certainly cap them.
 
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Old 07-21-11, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
The neutral is only dead when the breaker for the circuit is switched off (same as the hot).
I would like to add that if it is a multiwire circuit ALL poles to the hots must to be off for the neutral to be effectively dead.
This is the reasoning behind the newer (2008) code requirement of multi pole breakers on multiwire circuits.
 
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Old 07-21-11, 11:40 AM
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In my case since I am checking, labeling, testing and in some cases making minor adjustments to the rewire, making sure all is good before sheet rock goes up.

I found one circuit can run to many outlets, switches and lights, often times it is not obvious which boxes belong to one circuit. So if I take one box and hook up an outlet because I need an outlet there temporarily, I have no idea how many other boxes nearly by "upstream" or "downstream" of it where the neutral wire not being capped is going to be an issue. And since all of my boxes and conduits are metal, the neutral wire coiled inside uncapped IS probably touching the box.
 
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