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Ground Wire is testing as hot

My tester ''lights up'' in my outlet box when I touch the white common wire and black not wire with the two tester leads, as it is supposed to. However,it also ''lights up'' when I touch the black hot wire and the copper ground wire with the tester. This is should not happen, correct? I am trying t ofind the original location of the ''hot wire'' in contact with the ground.

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Assuming you are in the United States, the convention with 120 volt ac circuits is that the Black is HOT, the White Neutral, and Green is Ground. Assuming your tester is a neon type light suitable for 120 volt ac circuits, the tester will illuminate when the tester leads touch the black hot and the white neutral, and also when the tester leads touch the black hot and the green ground. the tester should not illuminate when the leads simultaneously touch the white neutral and the green ground. It appears from your description that Your circuit description is operating correctly.. Surprise? ... your tentative assertion "when I touch the black hot wire and the copper ground wire with the tester. This is should not happen, correct?" this assertion (YOURS) is wrong, rather, it would be correct for it to illuminate between the black hot and the green(you say bare copper) ground. It sounds to me, if you need to ask this question, "YOU SHOULD NOT BE FOOLING AROUND WITH LETHAL 120 VOLT HOUSE VOLTAGES AND CURRENTS" I strongly recommend you should hire a licenced electrician. Besides getting electrocuted, you could set fire to the HOUSE, and maybe not when you are looking but when you are asleep, or away from home. PLEASE BE FORWARNED. thank you. Regards --- GooseBay_Camper

Posted on Sep 28, 2009


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I'm want to install a toggle switch/outlet but have 2 white wires and 1 black. It's a Pass & Seymour 691-WCC6 switch. Can I install this switch?

More information is needed.
Unknown what wiring device was there before, and which wires were connected to which screw terminals.
Wire color is not as important as knowing what wire is for.
If both white wires were connected together before, then they need to be put back same way.
Separate wires. Turn on power. Test each wire to bare ground. Tester lights up on Hot wire. The Hot wire is usually black.
In back of box are white wires twisted together and covered with wire nuts. These are the neutrals.
Test black hot wire to neutrals and tester will light up. If box does not have neutrals, then device cannot be installed to code.

Open following link for illustration of wiring:

Aug 01, 2011 | Pass & Seymour #660IGU 15A Ivory SP Toggle...

1 Answer

I have the 691tr-icc6 outlet/toggle. I would like the switch to control the outlet below it. So I can turn on and off the outlet as needed. , Where do I put the black and white wires that come to the...

You have switch plug combo with dark screws, brass screw, and silver screw.
Dark screws are for black Hot wire coming from breaker box.
Brass screw is wire going to Load that you want to turn on-off.
Silver screw is for white Neutral wire coming from breaker box.

To set up so switch controls outlet, you need 2 dark screws on one side of device that are connected by break-away fin.
Remove fin so dark screws are no longer connected.
One dark screw goes to switch, one dark screw to outlet.
Hot black wire connects to dark screw for switch.
Connect jumper wire from brass Load screw to the dark screw for outlet.
Connect Neutral wire to silver screw.

To test for Hot and Neutral:
Separate wires.
Turn power ON.
Test each wire to bare ground wire, tester lights up on Hot.
Hot is identified.
Test Hot wire to all other wires except bare ground, tester lights up on Neutral.

Mar 28, 2011 | Pass & Seymour #660IGU 15A Ivory SP Toggle...

1 Answer

I would like to know how to wire my timer to my breaker box and pool pump? it a t101m 120v.. my pump has a white and black wire and some to my timer to my box

Wiring diagrams for T-101 appear on following link:

Hot wire goes to terminal 1
Neutral to terminal A

Black wire to pump goes to terminal 2
White wire to pump goes to terminal A along with Neutral wire.

Electricians don't guess, they test.
So lets test wires for sure:

Separate wires.
Use ordinary 2-wire tester from hardware store.
Tape tester leads to wood sticks so hands are away from power.
Do not touch anything metal, stand on dry boards.
Turn power ON.
Test each wire to bare ground wire.
Tester lights up on Hot wire. Hot wire connects to terminal 1.
Hot wire is identified.
Test Hot wire to all other wires in box, except bare ground wire.
Tester lights up on Neutral wire. Neutral wire connects to terminal A.
Your other two wires go to Load.
Connect Load black to terminal 2
Connect Load white to terminal A

Add a comment for more free help.
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Jan 08, 2011 | RTO Intermatic T101M Timer Mechanism Only...

1 Answer

My out let has 2 black wires and 2 white wires and no ground. The out that I purchased has 2 black wires on the back I know where the white and black. Wires. Go from the wall. .**** what do I do with....

You purchased a GFCI outlet.
You posted under GFCI combo switch and receptacle.
If you have different device, then add a comment.

On back of device are markings that show Line and Load.
These markings are associated with screws on device.
Black Hot wire connects to Brass-colored Line screw.
White Neutral wire connects to silver screw located opposite Line screw.
If you don't know which wires are Hot and Neutral, the testing steps are shown at bottom.

Your other two wires evidently go to a light, fan, or motor that is operated by the switch.
This is where the two wires that stick out of GFCI device are used.
Your Black Load wire connects to one wire, and your White Load wire connects to other wire.

Finally there are 2 screws left on GFCI device.
These screws are used if the Hot and Neutral wires go forward to another switch or receptacle box. This would require another Black and White wire in the box, and all devices from the GFCI forward would be protected by the GFCI.
As you know, the way electric circuits work is a Black Hot and White Neutral leave the circuit breaker box and travel to a junction box. From the junction box, the Black Hot and White Neutral travel to the next box, and then the next box, and so on until the last box is reached. Each box contains a switch or plug or combo device or a light fixture. In your case, the Black Hot and White Neutral may not send power forward to another box, and may just be a switch box that has a single wire to the light fixture, and that is the end of the circuit.

How to test for Hot and Neutral wires:
Separate your 4 insulated wires.
Turn power ON.
Test each wire to bare ground wire.
Tester will light up on Hot wire.
Now Hot is Identified.
Test Hot wire to each other wire in box, except bare ground.
Tester lights up on Neutral wire.

Add a comment for more free help.
Also take advantage of fixya phone service.
For a price, fixya expert speaks to you via phone while you test the wires and wire the device.

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1 Answer

If I am trying to find the 'hotwire' for lights how do I do that? Do I touch 1 wire and the junction box then the other and the junction box and whichever lights the instrument that is the hot wire?

Test for hot wire:
By code, hot wire should be black.

Take photo of wiring so everything can be put back.
Remove wires from device.
Separate wires for testing.
Use ordinary tester.
Test each wire to bare ground wire.
Tester lights up on hot wire.

Now test for neutral wire.
You know hot wire.
Test each hot wire to other wires (except bare ground)
Tester lights up on neutral.

If you do not have a tester, take ordinary wall lamp.
Plug on wall lamp has 2 prongs.
Prongs should have a hole.
Spread prongs apart.
Wrap bare copper wire into hole on prong1.
Turn on power.
Test prong2 to each wire.
Light comes on when prong2 touches hot wire

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1 Answer

I to want replace a regular duplex outlet with a TM818-WCC6 and want just the outlet switched. How do I wire it?

The Pass and Seymour plug-switch combo has 3 screws
There is a dark screw on one side .... the black Hot wire from breaker box connects here

There are silver and brass colored screws on other side of device

The white Neutral from breaker box connects to silver screw connects here >>> this will give power to your receptacle
The black wire going to Load (light, fan, motor that you want switch to control) connects to brass colored screw ... the switch controls power to Load

How to test for black Hot
Remove devices and separate wires
Turn on power
Test each wire to bare copper wire
Tester lights up on black Hot wire
How to test for white Neutral
Test black Hot to each white wire
Tester lights up on Neutral

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1 Answer

We can't figure out which is positive and which is common.

If I understand correctly, you are trying to identify wires inside a 3-way switch box?

Common wire is the wire that connects to dark-colored screw. Before taking wires off 3-way switch, it is customary to mark the common wire.

If you already have switch out and can't remember which wire went to dark colored screw I suggest you put old switch back in place and try the wires on different screws until both 3-way switches work correctly. Don't worry, circuit simply doesn't work if wires are placed on wrong screw.

You may also be trying to identify Hot and Neutral wires.

Hot is usually black, Neutral is usually white.

Here's how to test. Separate wires. Turn on power. Use ordinary tester. Tape tester leads to wood sticks so hands are away from power. Test each wire to bare ground wire. Tester lights up on Hot wire. Next, test Hot wire to each wire (except ground). Tester lights up on Neutral.

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Utilitech Wall Timer #0192773 does not switch landscape lights on? Replaced Intermatic that had 3 wires. Black to Black, blue to black and red was capped. Utilitech came with 4 wires - black, white,...

Old timer: Intermatic EJ500 & ST01C timers have a battery. Battery operates the clock motor. Red wire is for 3-way circuit [a hallway with 2 switches is a 3-way circuit].

Utilitec timer, clock runs on 120Volt circuit instead of battery. So clock has to have power.

How to connect wires:
Black timer wire connects to hot wire from breaker box.
Red (or blue) timer wire goes to landscape lights.
White timer wire connects to white neutral wire [or if no neutral is available, connect to bare ground wire].
Green timer wire goes to bare ground wire.

How to find black hot wire and white neutral wire inside box
: Disconnect and separate wires so you can test. Use ordinary tester. Power is on. There is only 1 black hot wire inside each electrical box. Test each black wire to bare ground until tester light comes on > that identifies the black hot wire. Next, test black hot wire to white wires until tester light comes on > that is the neutral wire. Exception: This test does not necessarily work with 3-way switches since they reverse each time switch is thrown.

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1 Answer

What does open neutral on my gb circuit tester also hot/ground reversed mean

An open neutral means that neutral, or common wire is not connected somewhere. If for example you test a outlet in a room, and the tester shows that you have an open neutral, Then somewhere along the circuit the neutral is not connected properly. In rooms most outlets are connected in series to each other, so if you have an open neutral in one outlet, it can affect all the other outlets too.

Hot/ground reversed means that the hot wire and the common wire are installed in the wrong order.on the outlet,you have a hot side (black wire)and a common side(white wire)and the hot wire is installed on the common side instead of the hot side and the common is installed on the hot side.This show up on the tester this way because the common and ground tie into the same bar in the panel.

Fix the open neutral first as this can show incorrect reading on the tester on all outlets after the open neutral.

Aug 03, 2009 | Gb Electrical Electrical Supplies

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