A hot white wire

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Old 03-30-14, 04:50 PM
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Exclamation A hot white wire

Hi, I am new to this forum and happy to be here. My son accidentally caused a socket to practically burn and of course blow the fuse. I removed the receptacle and am ready to replace with a new one but am bit confused (do not remember configuration, big mistake). The box has three cables (say Source, Left and Right) in it with each one having 3 wires. The black wire of the Source cable is indeed hot (voltmeter and light test). Also the white wire of the Left cable is HOT. There are some lights and sockets that depend on what is going on in the box where I am having the problem. I connected the HOT white wire of the Left cable to the black wire of the source cable along with the Left black wire and the Right black wire but this did not help. Then disconnected the HOT white wire of the Left cable but had all the black wires together. No luck there either. Can someone make a suggestion? thank you.
 
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Old 03-30-14, 05:06 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

First things first. We'll assume that you don't have any switch legs at that box. Tie all white wires together and leave a tail out for the receptacle.

What does that leave for "unaccounted for" wires ?
 
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Old 03-30-14, 05:09 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

First some questions:

How are you testing for ungrounded 120V power ("hot" power)? Are all of the wires disconnected from each other and any device when you're testing? Finally, is this receptacle controlled, in whole or in part, by a switch?
 
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Old 03-30-14, 05:10 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

Is this receptacle (what you call a socket), or half of the receptacle, controlled by a switch? Is the tab between the two brass screws on the old receptacle broken out?
 
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Old 03-30-14, 05:47 PM
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Exclamation

I probably confused you, there is no receptacle at this point, it got burnt and thrown away, all I am left with is the box that houses 3 cables, let's call them the Source, Left and the Right cable. I connected all the black wires together all the ground wires together and left the white ones just hanging. The Left white wire shows me 120 V against the ground bundle, shows again 120 volts against the source white source wire and 0 volts against the Right white wire! I also used a test light. There is no switch controlling what used to be the receptacle.
 
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Old 03-30-14, 05:55 PM
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You certainly did confuse us when you said you're replacing a receptacle. If there isn't a receptacle at this point.... why are the cables open....disconnected.

OK..... there was a receptacle and you are not choosing to replace it at this time.

The white wires need to get reconnected together just like the black ones.
 
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Old 03-30-14, 06:05 PM
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hmmm... I forgot one more thing. yesterday I did connect all the white ones together and got a short circuit...
 
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Old 03-30-14, 06:14 PM
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Ok..... so just so I have it clearly. You have three 2 wire cables. (no red wires)

It appears that maybe one of the cables is a switch leg..... even if not currently used to switch the receptacle.
 
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Old 03-30-14, 06:16 PM
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Yes, there are no red wires here at all. Each cable has a black, a white and the ground.
 
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Old 03-31-14, 06:03 AM
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So, assuming that ones of the cables is a switch leg, do you have some feedback as to what is really going on?
 
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Old 03-31-14, 08:08 AM
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do you have some feedback as to what is really going on?
A switch loop normally carries power to the switch on the white of the cable in pre 2011 NEC installations. See diagram.

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Old 03-31-14, 08:23 AM
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Let's back up a bit.

Turn off the power.

Disconnect all the white and black wires from each other but leave the ground wires all connected.

With nothing else touching one another, turn the power back on.

What wire(s) give a hot (120 volt) reading relative to ground?

Now turn off the power.

Double check to see that all wires that were live are now dead.

Excluding the cable(s) that had a hot wire, test the other cable(s) one at a time this way. Set your meter to ohms. Connect the meter probes to the black and white of the same cable. If you are getting some continuity (less than 100 ohms of resistance here) is there anything you can do, such as flipping switches or unplugging things, that make the resistance to go to near infinity?
 
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Old 03-31-14, 09:51 AM
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Ray2047, I understand your diagram, and the reason why current returns to the white wire. I just do not know how to use this information to fix the dead receptacles and switches. no matter what i do power does not return to these points.

AllanJ, when I got at home I will disconnect all the black wires but have not run this test yet. However, here is what I did last night:

When the white wires are disconnected here is what happens:

Black wire of the Source cable is hot against the ground
White wire of the Left cable is hot against the ground.
White wire of Left cable is hot against the white wire of the Source cable.
White wire of Left cable is 0 Volts against the white wire of the Right cable.

grounds are always bundled.
 
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Old 03-31-14, 11:16 AM
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What is the wiring where the load cables go?
 
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Old 03-31-14, 11:30 AM
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Ray2047 I am sorry i am not sure how to answer this one. All I know is I have three cables in a box that used to house a receptacle that burnt. One of the cables is the source as I described earlier. I do not have wiring details, it is an 80s house.
 
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Old 03-31-14, 11:41 AM
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Are you saying you do not know where the cables go? If not you need to look at any receptacle or light not working when the breaker is off. Open those boxes and using a multimeter set to ohms (breaker off) determine which have cables from the malfunctioning box.
 
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Old 03-31-14, 01:32 PM
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OK got you, yes I am aware of 3 receptacles in the room, and one multi-switch in the bathroom. They all depend on this box.
 
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Old 04-05-14, 01:24 PM
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Problem solved. I had a defective white wire that was closing the circuit, several times when I was trying to squeeze it inside the box.
 
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Old 04-05-14, 02:06 PM
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I had a defective white wire that was closing the circuit, several times when I was trying to squeeze it inside the box.
Glad you solved it, and thanks for letting us know what it was.

If one of your boxes is too small for the wires and devices that are in it you need to replace it with a larger box. Not doing so can lead to worse problems in the future - such as a fire.
 
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