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Hot and neutral touching inside of box for switch, causing short?


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04-15-18, 04:44 PM   #1  
Hot and neutral touching inside of box for switch, causing short?

I have a switch that mostly seems to be installed normally, outside of the fact that the box it is mounted onto is a little bit loose. Whenever the box is tilted at a certain angle, say when screwing on a faceplate, the white and black wires touch and this causes a short. The white and black wires are not touching on the exposed copper parts, but overlapping with each other on the parts that are supposed to be insulated. I can probably just move them away from each other to get the switch working properly again, but is that the correct way to fix that?

 
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04-15-18, 05:17 PM   #2  
Are you saying that the insulation is peeled too far back or damaged and wires are touch each other?
Or are you saying that insulated wired is touching each other and still causing short?

If insulation is damaged, you can just wrap it with electrical tape. And the later case is not possible unless the insulation is damaged.

 
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04-15-18, 05:29 PM   #3  
Looking at it, the ground wire seems to be attached to the box somehow? And the white and black wires are both attached to the switch.

lambition- Seems to be the second case. The insulated wires are touching and this causes a short.

 
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04-15-18, 05:36 PM   #4  
A photo would be helpful in this instance.
Are you sure the screw terminals on the side of the switch aren't touching the metal box?

 
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04-15-18, 05:52 PM   #5  
If the black and white are on the switch they are both hot if part of a switch loop. They must be touching something grounded. If they touched each other the light would come on.


 
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04-15-18, 06:05 PM   #6  
I've got the photos. Looking at things, I think I was most likely confused about what was happening. Tried moving the switch at different angles and the short seemed less associated with the wires touching and more with tilting the switch to the right, most likely.

https://imgur.com/BZ3V9OZ
https://imgur.com/R38k2EF

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Last edited by PJmax; 04-15-18 at 06:14 PM. Reason: addeds pics from links
 
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04-15-18, 06:16 PM   #7  
I don't see any burned/arced marks on the switch. It does look where I drew the red arrow that the insulation may be damaged. Look in the back of the box for a burned/arced area.


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04-16-18, 03:49 AM   #8  
By "short" do you mean it is tripping the breaker or blowing the fuse? Or do you mean that the switch doesn't work or the light flickers?
If it is the latter your switch is likely going bad and needs to be replaced.


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04-16-18, 04:55 AM   #9  
Could be a loose backstab .

 
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04-16-18, 12:23 PM   #10  
I would personally recommend a new switch and cleaning up the box (namely wiping the wires off in order to check their insulation).

But either way, you should move the wires from backstab connections to the screw terminals.

 
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04-18-18, 06:00 AM   #11  
I replaced the switch and it's working fine. I reinstalled it using the backstab method, not knowing there was anything wrong with that. Is it worth going back and changing it?

 
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04-18-18, 06:19 AM   #12  
Backstabs can work for years but are not as reliable as the screw terminals.
Now that the issue is fixed, you did not have a short. You had a loose connection . A short would trip the breaker.


Last edited by pcboss; 04-18-18 at 06:36 AM.
 
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04-18-18, 06:56 AM   #13  
Also just to be clear you have no neutral in the box. The white wire is a hot not a neutral. The white was supposed to be recolored or banded with tape black, red, or any color but gray or green.

Further the touching of the two hots would not cause a short. It would only cause the light to work.


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04-18-18, 07:36 AM   #14  
Thanks for pointing that out.

 
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04-18-18, 02:50 PM   #15  
you did not have a short. You had a loose connection
That is why I asked in my post (#8) Far too many times people will tell me they have a short, but when I ask if the breaker is tripping they say "no". That tells me they do not have a short, they have a broken or loose connection.


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