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#595230 - 02/27/10 06:57 AM Light fixture still "hot" with switch off
TJbear Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/09
Posts: 341
Loc: WNY
Replaced a light fixture yesterday. For the hell of it decided to use my inductance tester at the bulb sockets. With the switch off, it still had current at the sockets. This fixture is at the end of the line. It goes power cable to switch, then cable to light. Nothing after that.

Would this be an indication of a switched neutral or am I missing something? I looked in the switch box and it appears to be wired correctly. White wires tied together, black wires to the switch terminals......

Something screwed up "upstream" of the switch? Thanks.

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#595231 - 02/27/10 07:35 AM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: TJbear]
code_ceis Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/29/09
Posts: 7433
Loc: Seneca Nation
Very common a big misconception with deadly results. "If the light is off no power there." A very standard configuration is power to the light then a switch leg to the switch. Also a three way light may always have power in the box depending on switch layout. That is why when DYIs want to add a receptacle next to a switch it does not work. No neutral only power in and out. ALWAYS turn of the breaker or pull fuse before working on any circuit.

From your description it sounds like the hot and neutral may be reversed. If it was a non contact tester it may be phantom voltage.

If you unhook feed in switch box then test to see if power is on the black not white. Turn of breaker when unhooking.
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#595232 - 02/27/10 07:52 AM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: code_ceis]
TJbear Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/09
Posts: 341
Loc: WNY
In this case it's power to the switch box, then the light(bedroom light). Just one cable into the light box. It seemed as though the "shell" of the light sockets were hot and the center terminal was not. But like you said, with a non-contact tester, it can be hard to tell for sure whats going on.

"Upstream" of this switch is a closet light, then it's switch, then a junction box. Or something close to that order(junction IS at the beginning, though) Guess I have some trouble shooting to do. I was just in the junction the other day and it is wired correctly so perhaps something is reversed in the closet light or switch. I will do the test you suggested on the original switch first. Thanks.


Edited by TJbear (02/27/10 07:57 AM)

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#595233 - 02/27/10 11:51 AM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: TJbear]
3phase Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 6849
Loc: Licensed Electrical Contractor...
TJ, it is possible there is a switched neutral but a noncontact can give a false reading sometimes. Do some checking to make sure that the shell of the screw in part is not connected to the line or Black wire. Although it does sound like the neutral to the light is switched which is not the correct way to do it.
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#595234 - 02/27/10 12:20 PM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: TJbear]
brooksnb Offline
Super Handyman

Registered: 03/03/07
Posts: 2143
Loc: New Brunswick , Canada
It soundfs like it's wired the way it "used " to be done...hot at the light not in the switch box...actually I prefer not having my switches hot...but that's me.
They changed that around not that many years ago (here) because people seem to think there was no current at the light just because it was turned off...sound familiar ?? ALWAYS shut off the breaker regardless...then use a tester just to be %100 certain.
I suspect the whole house has been wired the same way at one time...did you check other switches/ fixtures ?
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#595235 - 02/27/10 12:38 PM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: brooksnb]
TJbear Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/09
Posts: 341
Loc: WNY
I NEVER assumed the power was off at a light fixture with the switch off, even before I had an iota of electrical knowledge, lol. I will do some investigating tonight and see whats up. Thanks.

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#595236 - 02/27/10 12:54 PM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: brooksnb]
jdevlin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 8146
Loc: Welland Ont. Canada
Quote:

It soundfs like it's wired the way it "used " to be done...hot at the light not in the switch box...actually I prefer not having my switches hot...but that's me.
They changed that around not that many years ago (here) because people seem to think there was no current at the light just because it was turned off...sound familiar ?? ALWAYS shut off the breaker regardless...then use a tester just to be %100 certain.
I suspect the whole house has been wired the same way at one time...did you check other switches/ fixtures ?





There is no "used to be" about it. It is still a common way to wire a switch. Power at switch or power at light are very common ways. Neither is right or wrong. It just depends if the power source is closer to the switch or the light.

It could have been a false reading of hot. Those tick tester are not 100% correct 100% of the time.
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#595237 - 02/27/10 02:50 PM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: jdevlin]
brooksnb Offline
Super Handyman

Registered: 03/03/07
Posts: 2143
Loc: New Brunswick , Canada
Quote:

There is no "used to be" about it. It is still a common way to wire a switch. Power at switch or power at light are very common




First thing...please understand that I don't wish to argue your point ...

It wasn't that long ago that I posted a thread here refering to this same thing and I was severely slammed because I was running my hot wire to the box and switching the neutrals...which was a common practice in N.B.and Quebec several years ago...I may be wrong but from what I can tell TJ is experiencing the same thing that would occur as a result of this wiring method.
I since spoke with a contractor that told me that all hot (in this area) must be run into the switch box ...and switched on the hot side...perhaps he just said that because it's a safe bet and there are times that a lot can be run and dropped to the switch...I won't pretend to know...lol
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Dennis Just another trouble making Canadian....

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#595238 - 02/27/10 06:04 PM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: brooksnb]
jdevlin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 8146
Loc: Welland Ont. Canada
Sorry switching neutral was never the norm. I guess I misunderstood. Switch loops switching the hot are still normal.
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Please do not Private Message with questions that can be answered in a Forum. I will not respond.

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#595239 - 02/27/10 09:29 PM Re: Light fixture still "hot" with switch off [Re: jdevlin]
TJbear Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/27/09
Posts: 341
Loc: WNY


Looks like it was just false readings. I removed the light and then tested the wire leads. Black was hot and white was neutral as it should be. Wierd.

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