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I want to connect the wiring from my shed into a junction box on the ceiling in the basement. I opened the box to see what I was dealing with, I figured it should be simple, there is only 2 wires going in. but i am confused- black to black, and both white wires just loose on their own. How do I connect my new wire into this box?

picture  of box

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This does look very strange and is not a standard configuration (although I can make up possible explanations, but that would be guessing). Can you get any more info about what the wiring is on the other end of each of these cables? –  bib Sep 18 '13 at 16:32
    
My guess (and it is merely a guess) is that someone is picking up the neutral from another circuit at the end of one of those lines, or terminating to ground. –  Chris Cudmore Sep 18 '13 at 16:33
    
think the 2 wires go to 2 wall outlets controlled by a light switch. I think the switch maybe originally controlled 1 of the outlets, and this was done to add an outlet on the other end of the room to be controlled by same switch? now what? can I hook power to my shed to this? or better to find another source? – –  Bchef Sep 18 '13 at 16:41
    
That would probably mean that the second outlet formerly had an always live hot (black) that is now capped in that outlet box and the neutral is still connected. If that is hte case, this black is switched and will not meet your needs. Test this by turning the power on and checking with a non-contact tester (carefully!). When switch on, hot, when off, not. If that is NOT the case, then your theory is off and you probably need deeper analysis. –  bib Sep 18 '13 at 17:07
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2 Answers 2

This looks like it used to hold a light fixture that was controlled by a switch. One white conductor is a grounded (neutral) conductor, the other is a switched ungrounded (hot) conductor (presumably).

To verify, follow the cable in both directions (one direction at a time, unless you have a split personality) and see if it eventually runs to another light fixture or a switch.

Alternatively, you could carefully connect a multimeter to the two wires. Then run about wildly flipping switches until either a reading is displayed, or the reading goes to 0.

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think the 2 wires go to 2 wall outlets controlled by a light switch. I think the switch maybe originally controlled 1 of the outlets, and this was done to add an outlet on the other end of the room to be controlled by same switch? now what? can I hook power to my shed to this? or better to find another source? – –  Bchef Sep 18 '13 at 16:41
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You should be supplying power to your shed through a dedicated branch circuit, not tying into an existing circuit. –  Tester101 Sep 18 '13 at 16:45
    
@Tester101 Duh! –  bib Sep 18 '13 at 21:27
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I would rectify why that hot doesn't have its neutral running with it. If its (either white wire) an old switch leg its absolutely the wrong color and I would proceed very carefully and inspect every inch of that house's wiring. More likely as mentioned its probably power to a switch and getting a neutral down the line. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be nutted together (the ground wire also, definitely) But if it is power to a switch then its not connected at the other end either anyway. Making future additions unnecessarily complicated as all of your wires aren't hooked up like you think they would be. GFCI's don't like funny business on the neutral so keep that in mind.

Close that box and go about your life. Romex is pretty easy to run. While your at it and have your load center (breaker box) open, add a convenience outlet next to it so the next time you feel like cheating its right there for you.

-nuts should be spun so much that the wire winds around it self making a better psychical hold.

-use something bigger than #12, or you may have bad voltage drop depending on the distance.

-always run more capacity then you need at the moment. You will find something to plug in where that just isn't enough for you and be wishing you had.

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