Residential Home wiring help!

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Old 02-10-14, 12:16 PM
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Residential Home wiring help!

Hi everyone, first time posting and i'm hoping I can get some feedback on a wiring issue i'm having. I'm installing some cabinets on a wall in my townhouse in NJ. IT will be a dry bar so no sink or anything besides a wine cooler. I need to relocate the out further along the wall and pigtail off of it to add another receptacle further up the wall. However when I pulled the outlet out of the PVC box I saw some wiring I wasn't too entirely familiar with. It has 2 neutrals running to one side of it and a hot running to the other side. There are also 2 hots and a neutral running into the PVC but all three of these wires were capped together with a wire nut. I was under the impression a neutral and a hot shouldn't even touch. The outlet is also a switched wall outlet. I've already purchased all the materials to run the extra outlet however I'm not sure where to pigtail exactly given the current layout of the wires in the PVC box. Can someone shine a little light on this setup? I also have attached a picture to best show how the wires look coming out of the wall. Thanks for your help!
 
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Old 02-10-14, 01:01 PM
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Just because a wire is white does not mean it is a neutral. One common example is switch loops where power comes in at the receptacle or light. It is permitted to use the white of a 2-conductor cable to carry power to the switch. By code the white wire must be redesignated some color other than white, gray, or green using bands of colored tape, felt tip marker, or liquid electrical insulation but often that is not done.

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Old 02-10-14, 01:11 PM
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Thanks for the response! However when I looked inside the box there are 2 feeds of wire coming into the box. Off the to of my head I can't recall exactly which color wire from the 2nd feed is going to the outlet but then the previous owner capped off the remaining wires. I haven't seen or can't see the need for 2 feeds of wire coming into the box. So my assumption was that the wires coming into the box are true of their color.
 
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Old 02-10-14, 04:12 PM
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You could have a power in, a power out and a cable going the the switch.
 
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Old 02-11-14, 07:12 AM
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I took a picture of the switch controlling power to the outlet when I got home last night. Does it seem that the power is running to the outlet and then a white and black are running to the switch? Would that mean there's a hot white wire on the outlet?
 
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Old 02-11-14, 07:19 AM
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Does it seem that the power is running to the outlet and then a white and black are running to the switch?
Yes, please see my diagram in post #2. This is the common method found and is often the case they forgot to redesignate the white some other color such as black or red. Your picture also shows a potential future failure point. The wires need to be moved from the backstabs to the screws.
 
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Old 02-11-14, 07:40 AM
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Thanks Ray! Is there a basic volt meter you would recommend I can pick to see which wires are the hot wires? Since i'm pigtailing off that outlet I want to make sure I wire the new outlets correctly. Also I planned on removing the switch with the backstabs as I came across a few older posts saying these eventually fail. Thanks again for the help!
 
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Old 02-11-14, 07:52 AM
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Analog multimeters are better at "ignoring" induced voltages then a cheaap digital meter. For an analog multimeter you don't need to spend more then $8-$15. Buy just a multimeter. They sometimes come in a kit that includes a bunch of near useless junk. To determine if a wire is hot you measure between the wire and a known good ground. If you get ~120 volts it is a hot wire.
 
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