Red wire used for ground?

Reply

  #1  
Old 12-23-12, 06:21 PM
H
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Red wire used for ground?

I have two the questions. I want to put a light switch and light in a closet by running power from an electrical outlet box in the basement. Opening the box I found what I think is a 14-3 gauge Romex wire. The red wire is attached to the green ground screw, and the ground wire is loose. The black wire is attached to one side of the outlet and the white to the other side.

1. Is the red wire being used as a ground, and should I worry about this?

2. The outlet has a pair of screws on each side. One screw has the white neutral wire attached to it, and one of the two screws screw on the other side has the black hot wire. Can I run a 12-2 gauge Romex wire from the two extra screws on each side (black to black and white to white) to the new light switch and light that I want to install?

Thanks in advance for your help
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-23-12, 08:02 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
The red wire is attached to the green ground screw, and the ground wire is loose... Is the red wire being used as a ground
It is it is a code violation and a safety issue. You need to find the other end of the cable and if the red is hooked to the ground on that end too it needs to be disconnected. To determine if the bare wire is a viable ground measure voltage between it and the black. If it is less then 105 volts you probably don't have a good ground and this circuit can not be used because by code an ungrounded cable can't be extended.
 
  #3  
Old 12-24-12, 07:36 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 13,610
Received 205 Votes on 182 Posts
Are you 100% sure it is not a bare copper wire going to the ground screw? Sometimes the copper can look red. It is rare for Romex to not have a ground wire, and if it doesn't, the cable is quite old.
 
  #4  
Old 12-24-12, 07:48 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
But the O/P wrote the ground wire was loose.

The red wire is attached to the green ground screw, and the ground wire is loose.
 
  #5  
Old 12-24-12, 08:42 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 13,610
Received 205 Votes on 182 Posts
I took that to mean that the wire was not connected securely to the screw. That would be odd. I have seen where people will color a red wire green and use that for an isolated ground, but that is pretty much pointless in a home.
 
  #6  
Old 12-24-12, 09:15 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
So we must wait now for Harvey to explain loose since it can have two meanings in this context.
 
  #7  
Old 12-24-12, 11:13 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 15,144
Received 85 Votes on 73 Posts
I wonder if they have xx-3 cable and the red was re-purposed?
 
  #8  
Old 12-24-12, 12:35 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 10,645
Received 85 Votes on 75 Posts
It is rare for Romex to not have a ground wire, and if it doesn't, the cable is quite old.
Hey now! I remember when romex was bought with ground or plain so it can't be that old!
 
  #9  
Old 12-24-12, 01:55 PM
H
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thank you for your responses.

The romex wire going into the outlet box has four wires. 1 black, 1 red, 1 white, and an uninsulated ground wire. This ground wire is loose. The "hot" black and the common white are screwed on to the outlet at the proper terminals. The red insulated wire is being used as a ground and is attached at the green grounding screw. Using an electric current tester I determined that the red is not hot. However, to be safe, and , as recommended by ray2047, I will follow it back.


Once I resolve the red wire question, can I use the second set of screws, mentioned in my initial post, to run a light to my closet?

Thanks again.
 
  #10  
Old 12-24-12, 02:45 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
You should be able to, but we won't know for sure until you trace the cable.
 
  #11  
Old 12-24-12, 04:31 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
If the bare ground if good yes you can use it. See my post #2 for testing.

Using an electric current tester I determined that the red is not hot.
If you mean a non contact tester the tester is not reliable enough to be certain and should be verified with an analog multimeter.
 
  #12  
Old 12-24-12, 04:44 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 58,639
Received 1,049 Votes on 973 Posts
.........and an uninsulated ground wire. This ground wire is loose.
Not to muddy the waters here but what do you mean by loose ?
Like not attached ?
 
  #13  
Old 12-24-12, 05:46 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
PJ asked:
what do you mean by loose
Yes we have asked you a couple of times. Is it just laying in the box unattached. Answer that question and test it and we can move on with helping you.
 
  #14  
Old 12-24-12, 07:50 PM
H
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Yes, the ground wire is unattached and apparently not in use.
 
  #15  
Old 12-24-12, 07:58 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
I'd almost bet the ground wire is open and someone re-purposed the red but that is a blatant code violation and must be removed.
 
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
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: