Is it normal to have your common wire go to your switch?


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Old 08-09-14, 01:48 AM
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Question Is it normal to have your common wire go to your switch?

Ok, I just bought a house and did some remodeling a couple of rooms, now I'm trying to jump into a junction box to put in an outlet on a wall that I just put up. I'm no pro electrician, but I've done this a couple of times. But this one has me a little confused. Power going in to the junction box connects the COMMON wire directly to a switch, and the hot wire is going to another box that goes to two light fixtures. The switch has the common wire going in the top of it and a black wire in the bottom going back into the junction box that I'm trying to jump into, then connects to a common wire that goes back to the box that goes to the light fixtures. I see no signs of grounding. Shouldn't the hot wire go to the switch? And the common wire head to the lights? Would this be polarized wrong? Is it safe? Or am I just thinking it all wrong? Any and all advice would be appreciated.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 03:16 AM
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Welcome to the forums! Just to help a little. There is no "polarization" to AC service. There is a hot wire and a neutral. Not sure what you are referring to with the term "common". For your receptacle you will need an uninterrupted hot and corresponding neutral. So if you make a connection, it must be before the switch in order for the receptacle to be hot all the time.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 07:09 AM
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The switch has the common wire going in the top of it and a black wire in the bottom going back into the junction box that I'm trying to jump into,
The term common is not relevant to this discussion as Larry pointed out. Do you mean you have a white and black wire on the switch. If so then it is a switch loop and both are hot. Neither is neutral and you do not have a complete power source for a receptacle.

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Note: While code requires the white be remarked a color other then white or gray or green it often is not.
 
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Old 08-09-14, 08:58 AM
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Ok, from your diagram, my lights are hooked up opposite. From the power in cable. The white one goes to the switch not the black one. That is what confuses me. Every diagram I can find shows the black (hot wire) going to the switch. Not the white one.(I was referring to that one as the common). I do realize that you often have a black and white wire on the switch, but I thought that it always was the (hot) wire that was leading to the switch from the power in cable. Not the white (neutral).
 
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Old 08-09-14, 10:13 AM
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Not the white (neutral).
Just because it is white doesn't mean it is a neutral. Look again at the diagram there is a white (not neutral) on the switch which has per code been remarked black.
 
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Old 08-10-14, 10:03 AM
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Thanks for trying to help, but I must not be clear enough. Let me try one last time. In this diagram and every other one I have looked at, there is a POWER IN CABLE that has a black wire (which is hot at that point, right) going to the switch. In my situation, that POWER IN CABLE runs the black wire (which is hot right, because it is from the breaker box to the junction box)to the lights not the switch. Take a look at my modified diagram. The arrows are pointing to the wires I am looking at.
 
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Old 08-10-14, 11:38 AM
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If this is what you mean it is not the recommended color code thought it will work. You end up with the very confusing two whites connected to the light. Even more confusing if it's a newbie who believes white is always neutral.

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Last edited by ray2047; 08-10-14 at 11:53 AM.
 

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