Can't determine neutral

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Old 09-10-16, 03:10 PM
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Can't determine neutral

Need help. Son is trying to install timer switch and for the love of god can't find neutral. guy who owned the house before was electrician by trade, so ALL wires inside that switch box are black. One is white and the usual ground copper.
Please, help
I have voltmeter. I can't find SIMPLE instructions on how to determine which wire is neutral in all that mess.
 
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Old 09-10-16, 03:17 PM
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If there is a neutral it will probably be four or more whites wire nutted to just each other. Do you have such a group of wires? It looks like you do.

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To verify use a polarized or grounded extension cord plugged into a correctly wired receptacle as a reference point. Insert one probe of a multimeter into the wire nut and insert the other probe into the narrow slot of the extension cord. It should read ~120v. It may take a bit of jiggling to get a good connection in the wire nut.
 
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Old 09-10-16, 04:02 PM
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OK.... I'm lost. Isn't neutral supposed to be NO power to it? ground to HOT = 120, neutral to ground = 0?
 
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Old 09-10-16, 04:31 PM
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You may have to pull the other switches out to gain access to the neutral bundle. Remove power to the circuit(s) first. You are correct. That is why Ray suggested probing the neutral bundle and the narrow slot on the extension cord (hot). You will get a reading of 120 volts.
 
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Old 09-10-16, 04:31 PM
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Older home?
There was no need for a neutral to run a simple switch loop.
https://www.google.com/search?q=swit...Jmmmbo3vxAM%3A
Only newer switches require a neutral.
 
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Old 09-10-16, 04:33 PM
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Yes, and neutral to hot is 120V. The narrow slot of the extension cord is hot...so if you measure hot to neutral you should see 120 VAC, as Ray said...
 
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Old 09-10-16, 04:34 PM
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Joe, he is looking for a neutral to connect to his new timer switch. Igor, that bundle of whites with the single cap is most likely your neutral bundle. Sometimes they are in the switch box and sometimes the neutral is left in the ceiling fixture and the wires to the switch are only looped.
 
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Old 09-10-16, 05:29 PM
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With power off to the circuit test for continuity between the bare ground and each wire. The neutral will show continuity because it's bonded to the ground at the panel.. Be sure no devices are in the on position on the circuit being tested.
 
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Old 09-11-16, 07:11 AM
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We got it connected.
2 black wires with tape were HOT and LOAD. He listened to me and simply connected them to proper terminals opposite to what he had done before, when switch was flickering.
I have been through this game when fussing with that GFI switch in MIL.
Here's exploded view of his wiring, just for the curiosity purpose. So it's not all black, it's white neutral, as it's supposed to be, then black wires for HOT and LOAD.
He was going to "hire electrician" for THAT?
Thank you folks.

 
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Old 09-11-16, 11:37 AM
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Thanks for the update. Quite often clients want electronic switches installed and all they have is switch loops. No neutral, so unless they want to pay to have extra wiring run, they are out of luck.
 
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