I was rewiring a room in my house and noticed a ceiling light was wired black to ground connection. Apparently it has been working correctly for years. Previous owner said they separated switch from outlets to change switch to light fixture and that is only way it worked.: White to white with black to ground.

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    Sounds like they re-purposed a ground wire as a hot. It's against code. – Tyson Jan 20 '18 at 23:40
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    Can you post pictures? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 20 '18 at 23:51
  • Yeah, that's wrong and could be very dangerous. Have that inspected by a reputable electrician. – ArchonOSX Jan 21 '18 at 1:12
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    This is a great example of someone saying "it has been working correctly for years". When in fact it has been working but not correctly for years. Just because someone has somehow made something work. It does not mean it was done correctly. Needless to say the electrical industry has rules for reasons that the untrained do not understand, but I can tell you that they are there for a reason. Mainely preventing what we call a burn or shock hazard. Which is a nice way of saying we are trying to prevent a disaster – Retired Master Electrician Jan 21 '18 at 14:47
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    I can also say that the main reason I and others are part of this exchange is to help others and prevent them from doing what you just discovered. Good luck on your repair. – Retired Master Electrician Jan 21 '18 at 14:48

That is quite wrong for small 6-40A branch circuit wiring:

Anywhere in the world, grounds can only be green, yellow/green stripe, or bare wire. And the reverse applies: wires of those colors can only be grounds.

Anywhere in North America, neutrals can only be white or gray. The reverse isn't true in multiconductor cables - whites can be re-tasked to be hots if neutral isn't needed.

Hot is any other color.

While using a black for a ground isn't a red-alert safety problem, the question is, what's he using for a hot!!!?? Using a bare ground wire for hot or neutral is downright unsafe.

Map the wiring, find both ends of a cable, and reallocate its wires to the correct usage by changing it on both ends.

Beware: sometimes color changes like that are done as a workaround when a wire breaks.

As Ed Beal points out, none of this applies to large 50+A circuits or to feeders and service entrances.

  • For regular branch circuits I agree but with feeders in conduit all the conductors are black and have phase tape to show if they are neutral, ground or L1,L2. – Ed Beal Mar 8 '18 at 14:23

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