3

I have three 14/2 wires coming in to a box. The wire on the left goes to the garage door opener outlet. The bottom right goes to a single light switch and connects to the light as well. The other wire goes to a junction box that goes to some of the outside lights and their switches.

Why would the light switch white wire go into the wire nutted black wires? (Not understanding that at all).

I was basically planning to add an extra outlet to garage and was going to add one more wire in here but now I’m confused. Also they used that one terminal for two screws which seems like a no no. (This is a prior homeowners contractor work or maybe original).

enter image description here

enter image description hereenter image description here

1 Answer 1

8

It's White, not Neutral, and it's probably (almost certainly, really) a switch loop. (So it's Hot.)

Per current code it should be remarked with red (my preference) or black or any other "hot color" at the ends, but it's common to encounter switch loops that were not so marked, either from before the code change or from workers who ignored the code change.

Additional pictures confirm it's a switch loop. Save some future pain and pull/twist/poke a pin in the holes of that switch to remove the wires from the "backstab holes" that go bad, and put them on the side screws that don't go bad.

Cut a short piece of white wire and connect it to the two white wires (that are Neutral) on the one screw of the lamp fixture with a wirenut or other suitable connector, and connect the free end of it to the screw on the fixture - it is indeed incorrect for that type of screw to have more than one wire. If you are planning to add an outlet, go ahead and add the neutral from that outlet to the bundle.

Since this appears to be an open/accessible garage situation, one option you might want to consider would be to go ahead and replace the 14/2 to the switch with a 14/3, thus bringing that switch box up to current code. You are not required to upgrade "grandfathered" work that was acceptable when installed unless making major revisions, but if it's easy to do, you might at least consider doing that. You could re-use the 14/2 for your new outlet.

4
  • Certainly, and IIRC the white wire is required to be always-hot when it's used as part of a switch loop (white can't be switched-hot.) That requirement is actually to prevent confusion when a future person (like @Irish) goes to make a fix/change -- the idea is to identify the white wire as being hot right away, not later on when a switch is flipped and equipment is damaged! Jan 10, 2021 at 16:45
  • I will admit I am relatively new to electrical work but being extremely careful before doing any changes until I fully understand it. Based on your response and google it looks like this is the case. If they had used 14/3 so they had the red wire which I am familiar with, in the light switch and the light box would that have just capped off the white wire on each end? One other question too. Based on this the box is 20.8 cubic inches. What is the box fill ( I get 7 since there’s 3 14/2 wires each with one ground counted only once). Jan 10, 2021 at 16:54
  • 4
    14/3 is common in new work, since Neutral is now required at switch boxes. If wired with 14/3 the white would be connected to neutral at the power supply end, and capped off if not needed by the switch at the switch box. 14/2 is a cable (not wire) containing two wires and a ground - Please ask another question rather than dragging out comments if you want to get into box fill, and if asking that question, shoot a picture that clearly shows the inside of the box all the way to the back.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 10, 2021 at 17:21
  • @Ecnerwal If I were to have put that white wire with the Other whites would the breaker trip immediately? Jan 13, 2021 at 1:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.