2 Black Wires in Box (Nothing else)

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Old 12-29-18, 05:17 PM
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2 Black Wires in Box (Nothing else)

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Size:  745.8 KBDear friends: I need your guidance:

1) I have a switch at home that works as on / off for two things together: 1) it puts on / off my front light outside my front door and also
2) it activates a receptacle (both outlets) simultaneously (this receptacle are outside the home on a different side). The outlets are about 7 feet above the ground and have no reset / GFCI.

Now what I wanted to do was replace the receptacle with a GFCI enabled receptacle. But am thoroughly confused on what to do as there are just 2 black wires. No white, no neutral.

any idea how can i go about changing the receptacle to GFCI. i dont need to make any other mods as everything else serves my purpose.

Also it looks to me that the wires are painted white inside the pipe cause may be the pipe was open during paint job but in reality the wires are probably black (?)
 
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Last edited by leon911; 12-29-18 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 12-29-18, 06:45 PM
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If the receptacle works normally, then somebody used the wrong color wire. One of the blacks are really the neutral wire.
 
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Old 12-29-18, 06:50 PM
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Thank you for reading my post.

1) yes Everything works fine... so could this be a double live wire scenario? like load and line scenario? considering that another bulb (front door of house) lights up when i push the switch?

2) if its more likely that just a wrong color wire is used, does that mean i can just try and plug that in a GFCI receptacle same way as its plugged in the old one? However.... wld a GFCI work when there is no ground?
 
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Old 12-29-18, 06:55 PM
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Presuming the receptacle works, one is the hot and one is the neutral. The installer should have used white for neutral, but ah well.

If you use a voltage pen, you can see which one is hot and which is neutral. A piece of white tape, while not 100% code compliant, I think would be a good fix. Then a GFI receptacle would work as expected.

It looks like it's piped with PVC conduit? You're missing a ground too. A GFI is allowed, but you'd need to attach the included sticker 'No Equipment Ground'
 
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Old 12-29-18, 07:11 PM
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Hmmm...

1) PVC conduit... the box is metal and the pipes in which the cables are in are also metal or so i think cause it feels metal ... its tough to say with all that paint on them... u know... lipstick on a pig home sale, they painted everything.
2) so when i use a voltage pen i am presuming i shld put the inside switch back on? which means breaker panel will also be on . ..

ofcourse like always i will switch breaker off again before actually unscrewing the wire. i will probably just cut the whole power to house when i unplug and reattach.

3) anyway to convert this to a grounded? without much work? like within the box itself?
4) finally anyway to reconfirm without the pen by looking at old receptacle screws which cld be the "actual" black
 
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Old 12-29-18, 07:12 PM
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Without seeing the front of the receptacle it could be a 240 volt receptacle.
It should have a ground though which could be the conduit. It looks like it might metal.
 
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Old 12-29-18, 07:20 PM
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The ground fault circuit interrupter receptacle unit will work perfectly well if you simply install it there.

Ideally you should first figure out which wire is the neutral so you can attach that wire to the silver screw or white lead on the GFCI unit. Using the wire that was attached to the silver screw of the old receptacle as the neutral is an educated guess.

If you take a porcelain ceiling lamp socket, add wires with alligator clips on the ends, and screw in a 100 watt incandescent bulb then by connecting the socket to one of the black wires and the box tab that you would screw the new receptacle to, if the bulb came on full brightness you will have determinedt both that the box is grounded and that the other black wire is the neutral.

If the box is not grounded you can string a bare or green wire of like thickness through the conduit to be the ground wire. This process is easier said than done.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 12-29-18 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 12-29-18, 08:21 PM
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I guess the most comfortable i am wth is an equal swap. So i may just as well replace the same apple to apple with a GFCI / if that would work without tampering too much?

So friends ... would below be a good approach?

I plan to
1) cut off the power
2) get the receptacle off its mount with wires intact
3) put power back on
4) use a non contact voltage tester to find the live among the two black
5) Mark the neutral wire
6) power back to off
7) plug the two wires to the new gfci
8) put a ungrounded sticker (?) am assuming that will be in new GFCI
9) put everything back into its box
10) put power on...

does that sound a good way to go about it?
 

Last edited by leon911; 12-29-18 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 12-29-18, 09:37 PM
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That would be the process.
 
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Old 12-31-18, 12:01 AM
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Guys, one last question... since there are only two wires going in the receptacle, how are both the outlets working when i put switch on? shld there not be 2 wires for each outlet (total 4) in the receptacle for both of them to work?
 

Last edited by leon911; 12-31-18 at 12:03 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 12-31-18, 02:59 AM
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The first receptacle would have four wires and the second receptacle two wires.
 
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Old 12-31-18, 05:27 AM
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Hi, are any of the other receptacles on the circuit outside?
Geo
 
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Old 12-31-18, 08:51 AM
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Hi ray:

am confused as I indicated that the box has inky two wires that are black

dear Geochurchi

as for something else being in the circuit. The switch I have is In my living room near the door. When I switch it on it puts my house “outside door” light on which is very close to the switch but it also activates both the outlets in a non gfci single gang receptacle (I assume that’s wht a receptacle with two outlets is called) . This receptacle is towards one side of the house about 40 feet away. Now that’s the receptacle I am trying to make a gfci but has only two black wires and somehow both the outlets in the receptacle / single gang work.
 
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Old 12-31-18, 08:56 AM
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Duplex receptacles come from the factory with brass tabs that bridge the screw terminals on each side. In typical installation those tabs are left intact to reduce the amount of wires needed in the box. Special cases like when one outlet of the receptacle is controlled by a switch and one outlet is always-on, the installer would break the tabs off and wire each outlet separately.

This situation just looks like the installer was too lazy/cheap to buy the proper color wires and used whatever black wire he had on hand.
 
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Old 12-31-18, 09:50 AM
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am confused as I indicated that the box has inky two wires that are black
So am I. The post I responded to seemed to say you had two duplex receptacles.
 
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Old 12-31-18, 10:35 AM
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Hi, what you have there is one outlet, you will remove it, keep track of which wire is on the silver screw, remove it and put it on the GFCI receptacle LINE NEUTRAL, remove the other wire from the brass terminal and install it on the LINE HOT on the GFCI receptacle, identify the neutral wire white by some means, white tape, spot of white paint, something.
If there is no ground wire in the box use the sticker that is usually provided to label the plate as such.
Geo
 
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Old 12-31-18, 11:25 AM
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Geo:

Thanks... will do the same so basically an apple to apple swap on the gfci. Just wanted to rule the probability that its some sort of a line in load out scenario. so if its just that its more likely that he used two black instead of one white i think i shld be ok.

Ray:

Sorry if my language came across inaccurate.

1) it is Just a regular wall receptacle that has places for two cords to go in. (pic is attached in first post)
2) It has only two black wires.
3) the switch that turns it on/ off turns on / off an additional bulb in the front of the house

ipbook:

thank you for your inputs as well.
 
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